Standing a little over 800 metres above sea level, Pontarlier is both the main town of the Upper Doubs region and the home of absinthe, a legendary and somewhat controversial beverage. To fully enjoy the Jura Mountains experience, make the most of all the region has to offer: local produce, cultural visits, excursions and outdoor activities galore.

Explore to your heart's content


Set in the mountains near the Swiss border, Pontarlier is a charming little town with some fabulous surprises in store for heritage fans and curious visitors. So take the time to stroll along the streets and discover the local history by visiting:

Added bonus for young explorers: The "Pontarlier à pas contés" trail offers a fun way to visit the town, packed with games and riddles. Just follow the pawprints of Ponti the Lynx.


A joint history

Pontarlier and absinthe

Absinthe production has played a leading role in the renown and economic development of Pontarlier. The town and the beverage share a local chapter in 19th-century history. Indeed, in 1900, there were no less than 25 absinthe distilleries operating across the town, until its production was prohibited in 1915 in the interest of public health. It was alleged to drive people insane!

It is in production again but today there is only one distillery in Pontarlier, although many traditional distilleries have appeared in the surrounding area. Listed as a Living Heritage Enterprise, the Pontarlier distillery invites you to visit as it unveils the secrets of this controversial drink.

Find out more about absinthe


Salted meats smoked in the famous "tuyé" smokehouses, drinks made from fruit and distilled or macerated plants, cheese made with delicious milk from the cows of our mountains... Here you'll be able to sample the full range of excellent local products from Upper Doubs.

Route de l'Absinthe / Guillaume Perret
Well worth the detour!

The absinthe trail

From Pontarlier, take the absinthe trail for a fifty-kilometre trip across the Jura Mountains and into Switzerland. Along the way, there are nearly 80 sites that have links with the "fée verte" (its French nickname, meaning "green fairy").

The major advantage of this itinerary is that it can be done on foot or by mountain bike.


Discovery of the Absinthe route
Route de l'Absinthe / © Guillaume Perret
Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
Special mention

Joux castle

Don't forget to visit the castle of Joux, right next to Pontarlier!

This icon of the Jura Mountains is a history hotspot and a gem of military architecture. Towering some 100 metres above the Cluse passage, a natural narrow passage on the crossing of the Jura massif. Here you'll be walking in the footsteps of 2 tragic figures, Berthe de Joux and Toussaint Louverture.

See Joux castle

AMB Photothèque/BFC Tourisme
Ski de fond, Métabief AMB Photothèque/BFC Tourisme
BFC Tourisme
Raquettes BFC Tourisme
Sophie COUSIN/BFC Tourisme
Ski alpin Sophie COUSIN/BFC Tourisme
Michel JOLY/BFC Tourisme
Rando pédestre, Les Fourgs Michel JOLY/BFC Tourisme
Michel JOLY/BFC Tourisme
Balade en VTT Michel JOLY/BFC Tourisme

Thrills in the great outdoors

On foot, by mountain bike…

Pontarlier is a beautiful mountain village nestled amid a landscape of spruce forests, lakes, springs and waterfalls that has built the reputation of the Jura Mountains. At the gateway to the Upper Doubs region, a larger-than-life natural playground, Pontarlier makes the ideal base for your adventures in the great outdoors. Located just a stone's throw from some key sites, it invites every member of the family to have fun in any season, be it walking, cycling, snowshoeing or skiing!

Check out these activities below!

Maud Humbert / BFC Tourisme
In all seasons!

The Gounefay Complex

Have you heard of Gounefay? In the mountains above Pontarlier, this is one of the favourite places of the residents of Pontarlier. Set in the Larmont estate, it offers a range of facilities, services and activities, all within a vast network of trails waiting to be explored at any time of year

Special mention for the Grand Taureau hiking route which takes you from the complex to admire a superb panoramic view over the town against the backdrop of the Alps. 

Recommendations of places to stay and places to eat in Pontarlier

A few suggestions for your next trip to the Jura Mountains

En résumé
A propos
Ski de fond, Métabief AMB Photothèque/BFC Tourisme
Raquettes BFC Tourisme
Ski alpin Sophie COUSIN/BFC Tourisme
Rando pédestre, Les Fourgs Michel JOLY/BFC Tourisme
Balade en VTT Michel JOLY/BFC Tourisme
À propos
Maud Humbert / BFC Tourisme