The Jura Mountains of Northern Switzerland – le Chasseron

One of the most enduring memories of childhood holidays to the alpine regions  was that wild and relatively unpopulated area of forested, mist shrouded hills that we passed through on leaving the lowlands of France and before sighting the high peaks of the Alps.

The Jura Mountains run along much of the Swiss frontier with eastern France and their unspoilt nature has changed little since those early visits. It is the largest area of forest in France and some of the valleys do indeed resemble those of the Alps further to the south though the mountains themselves are pastoral and pleasant rather than imposing for here are no 3000 metre peaks to challenge the hiker; indeed the 2000 metre contour plays no part on maps of the Jura. What the traveller will find however is a timeless country with family friendly mountains, tumbling rivers and beautiful lakes set in deep forest. In short nature as it was intended.

Jura mountain view

Typical landscape of the Jura looking towards Lac St Point from Grand Taureau

The highest of the Jura peaks is the Cret de la Neige (1718m) overlooking Geneva in the South while other notable summits include Chasseron, Chasseral and Mont Tendre though their names are little known outside of France or Switzerland. The closest to our base of Pontarlier was the Chasseron (1607m or 5273 ft) which rises above St Croix just over the border in Switzerland. So it was on one day in August, here that we headed for a mountain adventure complete with four year old Daniel and one year old Benjamin in his buggy.

Following the minor road to Les Rasses and Hotel Chasseron from St Croix soon brought us to a left turn for the hotel which led up through forest to emerge in open meadows above. This is as far as you can drive unless you are a guest of the hotel to where a dirt road continues beyond the gate. This gave Benjamin’s buggy no problems and brought us to the hotel on the end of the summit ridge of the Chasseron.

Chasseron summit plateau

The summit plateau of Chasseron in the Swiss Jura

Looking north from Chasseron

The view from the summit of Chasseron north into France

The views across Lac de Neuchatel towards the distant Alps are awesome though the shining snows of the Bernese Oberland appeared somewhat faded by the summer haze. Beyond the hotel, an easy path (though not for buggies) leads to the summit in five or ten minutes walk to reveal a sheer drop off that comes as a surprise after the easy terrain so far. Don’t let the kids run off ahead here! The view north towards France is across a beautiful green and forested valley towards Pontarlier and the plain beyond while all around are the verdant hills that typify the landscape of the Jura Mountains.

Pete Buckley April 2013

limestone rock formations of Chasseron

The summit and the limestone cliffs on the northern side of Chasseron

The drop off on Chasseron

Looking towards France from the edge

About Pete Buckley

Hi I'm Pete and I'm a UK based outdoor enthusiast, part time writer and photographer. My work includes action adventure novel The Colonel of Krasnoyarsk as well as a couple of travel stories recounting firstly a campervan adventure around New Zealand and then a week on foot in the Swiss Alps, hiking from the Eiger to the Matterhorn. The subject of these pages is predominantly hiking in the English Lake District (which is near where I live), North Wales and the Scottish Highlands as well as cycling; from rides with the kids to trail riding in the Highlands of Scotland and other wonderful places... Thanks for visiting.
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4 Responses to The Jura Mountains of Northern Switzerland – le Chasseron

  1. LensScaper says:

    Good to see another post from you, Pete. We have driven through the Jura countless time from Pontarlier over the top through Les Hopitaux-Neufs to pick up the Autoroute towards Lausanne on the way to the Rhone Valley. Never had an opportunity to stop, always pushing on. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the rolling country though.


  2. Pete Buckley says:

    Hi how’s it going? I thought it was about time we had a bit of a look around the Jura as we always headed straight through too. There’s a nice campsite just past Pontarlier where we had a really good week. Thanks for the comment.


  3. Shivya says:

    I haven’t been to Switzerland, and to be honest, I thought I was kind of over Europe after coming home from my last trip. Not even close, your post made me realize. The mountains look gorgeous, the drop even more – I can almost imagine standing at the edge, looking at France. Looking forward to reading more from you, Pete!


  4. Pete Buckley says:

    Thanks Shivya – I’m glad you enjoyed reading. To be honest this region was somewhere I’d passed through before but never really looked at. I enjoy your posts too!


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