The border between France and Switzerland has played an important role in the history of the Jura Mountains. In this small region, the cradle of a common culture, the two countries share not only their mountain peaks but also their expertise and heritage. Explore this cross-border region by on foot, on skis or by visiting local producers to sample Franco-Swiss specialities!
One foot in France, the other in Switzerland
In the Jura Mountains, many of the summits create a natural border between France and Switzerland, separating "French Jura" from "Swiss Jura". Tucked between two countries, they invite hikers to go and admire the amazing scenery.
Crêt de la Neige
The Crêt de la Neige, the highest peak in the Jura massif, offers a stunning view over Lake Geneva and the area lying on the other side of the border at the foot of this peak.
There are plenty of easy walks as well as more challenging hikes to do here, such as the GR9 trail that follows the ridges to offer the superb views that unfurl on either side of the border.
One ski in France, the other in Switzerland, at the resort of Jura sur Léman
The ski slopes of the Jura Mountains also have a cross-border dimension. Wintersports fans can now ski on both sides of the Dôle massif from the resort of Jura sur Léman.
Take to the smugglers' trails
This Franco-Swiss region has also been the cradle of smuggling activity in Doubs! In the 8th and 9th centuries, men laden with sacks of tobacco, wrist watches or even farm animals would follow the secret, craggy trails to reach the other side of the border without getting caught by the customs officers, then known as "gabelous".
In the heart of the Doubs Horloger regional nature park, 4 hiking trails have been marked out to take you along the paths once used by smugglers.
Long-distance trekking itineraries to discover the gripping history of smuggling as you explore the natural setting and its dizzying views.
Doubs Horloger Regional Nature Park
Located further to the north of the Jura Mountains, this nature park also offers access to a border region where the river Doubs flows, marking the boundary between France and Switzerland, shaping the landscape with waterfalls and offering beautiful views over lush green valleys that invite hikers of all levels to come and admire the scenery.
Cross-border culture and expertise, from absinthe to clockmaking
This Franco-Swiss region has a unique culture:
- a history of watchmaking that has boosted the economy on both sides of the border for a very long time,
- but also absinthe distilling, a spirit made from local plants.
The Time Museum in Besançon
The Watch Museum in Villers-le-Lac
Bottle of Absinthe from the Marguet-Champreux distillery
Watchmaking craftsmanship has played a significant role in the culture and heritage of the Jura Mountains for over 300 years. It was here in the heart of what is now known as the "Pays Horloger" (watchmaking country) that the great names in French watchmaking emerged, such as Pequignet, Herbelin and Utinam. Back then, farmers kept busy during the winter season by working for French and Swiss watchmakers, which explains why this unique expertise of precision developed here.
But this Franco-Swiss region isn't famous just for its watchmaking expertise. It is also home to another, completely different kind of traditional production, that of Absinthe. This local spirit distilled from plants that grow in the region is also known as "La Fée Verte" (the "Green Fairy"). Following a troubled history, it was relaunched in 1805 by Henri-Louis Pernot at his distillery in Pontarlier and has become the region's iconic beverage.
A railway that retraces watchmaking history
The Watchmakers line is a railway link running between Besançon and Le Locle in Switzerland, to plunge you into the history of this unique heritage.
A trip packed with discoveries about the origins of the watchmaking industry, but which also explores the lush green landscape of Doubs, its different fields of expertise and its culinary specialities.
During the trip, you'll also see some unique pieces, such as the Foucault pendulum installed in the tower of the Time Museum in Besançon.
- Practical info: the watchmakers line is a standard TER regional service. To enjoy this adventure, simply purchase a train ticket for the Besançon - La Chaux-de-Fonds line!
Stops you must not miss on the Watchmakers line
The absinthe road
This 48 km itinerary between France and Switzerland takes you back into the history of this iconic beverage from the Jura Mountains, between plantations, museums and distilleries.
Starting at Pontarlier, the “absinthe capital”, the Absinthe Road takes you to Noiraigue in Switzerland, stopping along the way for guided tours and tasting sessions!Tout savoir sur cette route
Spend the night in two countries at once!
But expertise isn't all that is shared in this region straddling the border between 2 countries. Because at the Arbézie hotel and restaurant in Les Rousses, you can sleep right on the border and, instead of having to choose, enjoy the culinary specialities of both countries.
Battle of the cheeses
While the region's industrial heritage and crafts are shared between France and Switzerland, when it comes to making cheese, each country defends its own expertise!
Whether it's between Comté from the Jura Mountains and Swiss Gruyère, or Mont-d’Or versus the famous Vacherin, the battle to decide which is the best cheese is still being fought
So, which side will you take?