Leaving Besancon, it was time to get back to the French countryside! In my Lonely Planet “France’s Best Road Trips” (Buy this awesome travel guide here!) I had read about a roadtrip through the Jura region and decided this was definitely an area for me :-). Famous for Vin Jaune (Yellow wine) and Comte cheese, subalpine but still strikingly beautiful and not that frequently visited by tourists.
Still having company from the Netherlands, we took off for a new adventure! 🙂
Starting the Roadtrip through the Jura Region – Arbois
The first day, we were headed for Arbois and the little villages in its surroundings such as Poligny and Pupillin. Rolling hills, lots of wineries and cheese shops everywhere! A crazy beautiful drive and lots of pitstops. Some cute villages with amazing patisseries! The weather was clearing up beautifully so everything looked great 🙂
I was very eager to try out one promising way to find a free camping spot in France: France Passion. A nationwide network of farmers opening their land to tourists travelling in their campervan. You pay a one-time fee of €40 and then can stay everywhere for free. The farmers hope to sell you some of their produce, but this is not mandatory. Also, your camping car has to be self-sufficient. Some farmers offer water, very few offer toilets and basically no one offers electricity.
The first farm we tried out was a wine farm (of course 😉 ).
France Passion – Caves Clerc – Mantry
GPS N 46.79662 E 5.55874
We got a lovely warm welcome when we arrived at the winery in this tiny village. The old gentleman showed us where to park the camper and I just couldn’t keep smiling. A beautiful stretch of grass, in between the apple trees and the vineyards. Parking right there, putting the solar shower on the roof and enjoying the silence and fresh air while enjoying a bottle of wine and some cheese. Good life!
Part of France Passion is that you (can) show interest in the products of the farm and potentially buy them. When you stay at a winery, this is of course no punishment! The winery itself was very small but lovely and has been run by the same family for ages. The gentleman proudly showed his “Cave” with barrels of 250 years old. We got to taste about 7 wines, including the famous “Vin Jaune”. This yellow coloured wine ferments in barrels for at least 6 years and three months. Not necessarily my favourite wine, but great to see how its made!
Another great way to learn more about wines in different regions is through wine travel guides. These kind of guides will explain more about the different wine regions, grapes and hot-spots to go tasting.
So the thing that seems to happen with staying with France Passion is that you stay for free, but leave with at least €40 spent on wine 😉 But then again, supporting a local farmer and ending up with some delicious wines, things could be worse..
Waterfalls in the Jura Region
So, this runs in the family, but I love waterfalls. Tripadvisor said there were some great waterfalls in the vicinity so these were immediately put on the itinerary 🙂
The first waterfall we hit was “Cascade de Tufs”. It was a beautiful drive through the village of Baume Les Messieurs and some sort of canyon getting there. A couple of cars, not too many at the parking lot. We had a slightly expensive drink at the pretty hotel/restaurant and it had a lovely view on a mini waterfall.
We then walked up the hill, where also the access to the caves was. We were a bit confused as the signs for the waterfall were gone so we went into the ticket office to ask where it was. Surprise surprise, it was supposed to be the mini waterfall we had a view on at the restaurant! That explained the price of the drinks 😉 Slightly disappointed we hiked up the canyon which was very rewarding with great views.
On the way back we made a quick pitstop in Baumes Les Messieurs, a tiny village close the waterfalls. Beautiful nature and a super cute village, I can totally recommend having a short walk around!
Waterfall Effort number 2: the “Cascades de Herisson“. Supposedly the biggest and best waterfall around. It was close to our campsite (see below) so it would only be a short drive. We followed the signs, there was again a very expensive restaurant and again almost no water! It has to be said though that if water runs, this is probably a stunning place. You could walk behind the waterfall and also hike up and see it from the top.
All in all: disappointment! I will be back for more! Probably in fall or spring, when the snow melts and there should be more water 🙂
Bonlieu – Camping L’Abbeye
Our base for exploring the waterfalls was camping L’Abbeye in Bonlieu, close to the lake of, you can guess, Bonlieu. There were some nice walks around the lake and the water of the lake was lovely and refreshing!
The camping itself was good to relax a bit, do laundry, use wifi and plan for the next couple of days. It was also close to some viewpoints over the lakes in the area. We decided to check out “Belvedere des 4 Lacs”. Warning here: the sign is pretty much hidden. Take the small trail through the bushes, because the roads lead nowhere (we found out after 2km 😉 ). The viewpoint itself is pretty, but a bit crowded!
For dinner, we decided to splurge and get ourselves a lovely dinner in a restaurant. We were originally looking for “Coq au Vin Jaune” made with the local yellow wine, but it seemed impossible 😉 We ended up in Restaurant Aux Truites Bleues which was amazing!
After Bonlieu we wanted to see what this huge lake on the map was all about. We took off to a free camping spot in Orgelet, close to Lac de Vouglans.
Camperspot Orgelet and Lac de Vouglans
GPS N 46.52264 E 5.60761
This was a great free camperspot! A large grassfield, trees, toilets, shops close by. The only minus point is that there are not many restaurants around. We ended up having dinner in a rather fancy place called La Valouse, which also has a price tag :-). But it was a great dinner with high quality, local food!
Orgelet itself is a nice small village and makes a great base to explore Lac de Vouglans. It’s a 15 minute ride to the swimming spots on the left side of the lake, and about 30 minutes to the other side. The first time we went was on a Sunday, which was a big mistake. The whole area had flocked to the lake and it was super crowded and difficult to find a parking spot. When we finally found a place, the whole beach was full!
We decided to come back next morning (Monday morning) and rent a canoe to explore the lake. At Plage de Becellin was a lovely small beach with sand and a grass field. It had a little office with plenty of canoes and waterbikes. We rented the canoe for half a day. This allowed us to explore all the little inlets on the edges of the lake. We even found some small waterfalls and hidden beaches. Great trip!
France Passion – Earl Piet-Thouverez – Morbier
GPS N 46.56571 E 6.02490
As I needed to keep heading south in the direction of Geneva we looked for a place to stay near Les Rousses. We found a cow farmer associated with France Passion in a little ski village called Morbier. Again we got to stay on a nice grass field with great views!
The cute town of Les Rousses is about 30 minutes away and makes for a lovely visit. It’s very touristy, but makes a good (final) stop of your roadtrip through the Jura region.
We had dinner at La Taverne Comtoise which is also a France Passion location. It says in the book they are closed on Monday and Tuesday evening, but this is outdated information. I was happy with the choice for the other place in Morbier, as the Taverne was really just a parking lot.
After Morbier, it was time to say goodbye to my partner in crime 🙂 and I moved on by myself in the direction of Lake Geneva.
Summary of my roadtrip through the Jura Region
I would go back to travel the Jura region any time! Great wineries, good food, not too touristy, great lakes to swim in, cute villages, good campsites and hikes and beautiful nature. What else can you wish for! Let me know if you have any more questions about this roadtrip through the Jura Region or anything else!