Discover the Joux valley

Discover the Joux valley

If you arrive on this article, it is probably that you already know the Joux Valley in Switzerland and looking for possible activities in summer. That’s good, that’s the subject of my article!

But if you stumble here by chance, during your travels on the internet, I suppose you are wondering where it is, this pretty Vallée de Joux?

Nestled in the heart of the Jura mountains between the French departments of Doubs and Jura, this Swiss enclave belongs to the canton of Vaud. Made up of the towns of Chenit, Lieu and Abbey, it is mainly renowned for being one of the historical cradles of Swiss watchmaking and, more recently, for having hosted certain competitions of the Youth Olympic Games during winter 2020 (in a world where the Covid did not yet exist).

Still not very touristy, the Vallée de Joux is therefore a destination of choice if you want to discover the authenticity and charm of Switzerland just a stone’s throw from the French border.

Here is the selection of my favorite activities if you come to stay there for a weekend in summer.

Hikes

One of the flagship activities of the Vallée de Joux, like the rest of Switzerland, is obviously hiking.

Mont Tendre

It must be said that the highest peak of the Jura on the Swiss side, Mont Tendre, overlooks the valley on one side and offers an exceptional panorama of the Lake Geneva basin the other. In clear weather, the magic operates when Mont Blanc is revealed in front of us.

The advantage of Mont Tendre is that many trails of varying difficulty provide access. And with a little luck you may come across Highland Cattle, these long-haired Scottish cows 🙂

Duration : around 4 hours round trip
From Les Bioux : 14km / 600m vertical drop
From the Col du Marchairuz : 17km / 450m vertical drop
From the Col du Mollendruz: 20km / 550m vertical drop

The Dent de Vaulion

With its form recognizable from afar, and although slightly lower than Mont Tendre, the ascent of The Dent de Vaulion is my preference. It must be said that the panorama is, in my opinion, even more spectacular with its plunging view over the valley and its two lakes.

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valley of joux from dent de vaulion

And if you like a challenge, nothing prevents you from combining these two trails for a beautiful day loop!

Duration : around 3 hours round trip
Distance : 7 km
Elevation : 480m (from Le Pont) – 380m (from the Pétra Felix pass)

The Mont d’Or

Although located on the French side, it is also possible to climb Mont d’Or from the Vallée de Joux.

There is no lake here, but high cliffs. Always with Mont Blanc in sight.

Duration : around 5:30 a.m. round trip (from Le Pont)
Distance : 21km
Elevation : 800m

Doubs-mont-dor-cretes

Around Lac de Joux

Finally, the last, quieter option is to walk around Lac de Joux and / or Les Brenets.

I advise you to do this loop early in the morning to have the chance to meet chamois, many in the area.

Duration : around 5h30 the complete loop of the 2 lakes
Distance : 26km
Elevation : 225m

joux lake
joux lake

Nautical activities

Lake Joux being the largest lake in the entire Jura massif, you will have the choice between various and varied nautical activities to refresh yourself in water that can compete with the Mediterranean with its 25 ° C in summer.

If you are a fan of sunbathing, there are many beaches along the lake. However, I advise you to move away from the most popular areas and find a small cove where you can settle in peace for an afternoon.

Unmissable, the paddle and the pedal boat allow you to enjoy this giant swimming pool, far from the hustle and bustle (relative, we are in Switzerland!) On the shores of the lake.

You can even try your hand at water skiing or kite surfing in this enchanting setting.

Other nature activities

The caves of Vallorbe

Impossible to come to the Vallée de Joux without visiting the caves of Vallorbe!

To the rhythm of a “sound and light” you will stroll through the galleries along the underground river, marveling at the karstic formations sculpted over the millennia. The highlight of the visit is the great hall, nicknamed the Cathedral because of its size and its incredible “architecture”.

underground river

The JuraParc

While I’m not a huge fan of these animal parks, I can’t really fail to mention the JuraParc, one of the top attractions in the area.

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Thanks to the walkways that overlook the parks, you will be able to see wolves, bears, bizons, alpacas and deer in particular.

It is not really an activity that I recommend because I consider that these wild animals do not have to be locked up for the pleasure of the men. Now the decision is between you and your conscience.

Gorges du Nozon and Dard waterfall

From Romainmôtier, where you can visit the abbey, a pretty hike will take you to the sublime Dard waterfall.

The most motivated can then continue to the Nozon gorges.

cascade

Culture and heritage

The abbey church of Romainmôtier

I had the opportunity to visit the abbey church a bit by chance and I wondered how I could have missed this site for so long!

The village of Romainmôtier is already super cute in itself with its little cobbled streets and stone houses. But what about the abbey church! Beautifully preserved with its murals, you can even come and listen to many concerts throughout the year.

The military fort of Pré-Giroud

The artillery fort built and used during the Second World War is a must-see if you come to the Vallée de Joux.

Dug in the rock, its visit allows you to discover the conditions of the 200 soldiers who lived there as well as the weaponry used at the time.

Watchmaking museums

How to talk about the Vallée de Joux without talking about watchmaking? And here it is not the museums on this theme that are lacking.

Between the villages of Le Sentier and de l’Abbaye (pronounced “Abeille”), you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to learning more about the history of watchmaking or watchmaking techniques.

The other museums

And if the watchmaking industry is like it was in the year 40, rest assured, other equally interesting museums will allow you to discover the cultural riches of the region.

In particular, you will be able to learn more about the manufacture of Vacherin-Mont D’Or, a famous Swiss cheese specialty. The museum of iron and railroad tells. as for him, the history of this industry and its development through the ages.

railway track in the fir trees

As you can see, there is no shortage of activities in the Vallée de Joux. The most difficult will surely be to choose among all those available to you!

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Useful information

How to get there ?

  • By car : The Vallée de Joux is approximately 1h45 from Besançon, 1h15 from Geneva and 1h from Lausanne. Coming from France, you will not need to buy the Swiss sticker to get there since the valley is literally behind the border.

  • By train: As everywhere in Switzerland, the Vallée de Joux is very well served by train. A major advantage, it is located right next to the TGV line which connects Paris to Lausanne in 3 hours! All you have to do is get off at Vallorbe and then take a bus or a regional train to reach the valley a few kilometers away. The bravest can even reach the shores of the lake on foot in just 2 hours.
  • By plane: the nearest airport is Geneva. You will then have to take the train to reach the city, rent a car or carpool!

Where to stay

As the valley is located at the border, you will therefore have the choice between accommodation in France or Switzerland. The valley being quite popular with the Swiss in summer, don’t wait too long to book 🙂

If you are a fan of camping, a free camping site with many pitches is located just outside the village of Pont, on the edge of the lake. Perfect for small budgets, but very quickly filled in the summer!

Other sites for motorhomes are available around the lake.

Where to eat ?

Although there are many restaurants on the shores of the lakes, my little advice is to eat a very traditional meal in one of the alpine chalets.

I am far from having tested them all, but my preference (for the moment) goes to the restaurant bar The Croisettes accessible from the Col du Mollendruz. The advantage is that you can see Highland Cattle, these long-haired cows from Scotland. The downside (for vegetarians) is that it is also one of the specialties of this restaurant. At least it’s a local product. But I reassure you, their choice of fondues and other cheese specialties is also super good!

Useful links

If you want more information to visit the Vallée de Joux, you will find what you are looking for on the tourist office website of the valley.

Other activities in the region

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valley of joux
valley of joux

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