Last June, Amélie from the Hellolaroux blog went to tackle the Grande Traversée du Jura, an itinerary that crosses this border mountain range from Mandeure to Culoz. She set out to walk for 16 days along this legendary hiking trail, taking notes and photos along the way as she explored the most beautiful landscapes of the Jura Mountains. Here she describes 4 sections, the must-dos of her itinerary, to be discovered in 4 days for an easier version of this fabulous hike!
The Crêt de la Neige and Reculet summits
Featuring the highest elevation of the Jura Mountains, the Crêt de la Neige is the most alpine and most dizzying section of the entire GTJ. To get the most out of your hike, I recommend you spend the night at the Loge refuge, accessible from Lélex. At the crack of dawn, you'll be ready to tackle the final ascent to reach the rooftop of Jura at an elevation of 1,720 metres. My own experience was that the mist refused to lift and I found myself surrounded by dense, stubborn fog.
Until all of a sudden, the fluffy clouds dispersed to offer me a 360° view, the most spectacular on the entire itinerary! At that point I was doing a tight-rope walk along the ridges of the High Jura Nature Reserve.
The Crêt de la Neige is, of course, the one everyone wants to accomplish, the big "must do" that nobody can resist. But these ridges are best appreciated as an ensemble, since the Reculet and the Grand Crêt are every bit as unique.
The Retord plateau and the Valserine losing streams
The following day we arrive in the town of Bellegarde. The best part of this stage of the GTJ is the descent into the depths beneath the town to discover the Valserine losing streams. This life-sized canyon carved out by the waters of the Valserine is the perfect place to cool off. In a soothing, lush green setting, you can follow the turbulent waters along a dedicated path in a succession of riverbanks and natural cavities.
Next, the itinerary leads out of the town and towards the Bugey region and the Retord plateau. In summer or winter, this is a heavenly playground for lovers of the great outdoors, with its beautiful forests and valleys. From one side to the other, we cross it via the Crêt du Nu to reach the Arvières chalet, our cosy overnight retreat.Découvrir les Pertes de la Valserine
The Grand Colombier and the Fenestrez panoramic viewpoint
The legendary Grand Colombier is the final stage on the GTJ hiking trail. Just outside Culoz, this summit in Ain is well-known to cyclists and offers superb views over Bourget Lake and the Alps. I was fascinated by the contrasting spring flowers, green pastures and grey clouds, although I do hope you'll have perfect weather with a clear sky. With a bit of luck you'll even get a gllimpse of the famous Mont-Blanc.
Next I arrive at the Fenestrez panoramic viewpoint. One last look at this impressive mountain range, to say goodbye and, with slightly aching knees, begin my final descent to Culoz. What an adventure! Here ends a 4-day expedition across Ain on the GTJ hiking trail.
Made it to the end? Then you can be proud of yourself!Découvrir le Grand Colombier
The Grande Traversée du Jura still remains a little-known long-distance hiking trail, that beckons you to explore this unspoilt wilderness. It is a challenging route that requires some degree of long-distance hiking experience but is very accessible nevertheless.
In terms of landscape it has everything, a whole mix of bucolic scenes, fields, pastures, forests, peaks, lakes and a river.
Places to stay on the GTJ trail
Check out places to stay along this 4-day itinerary in the southern part of the massif.
Discover the GTJ in its entirety
You'll find other sections of the GJT and full details of Amélie's full experience on the Hellolaroux travel blog!
A hike of 400km and 16 days to cross the mountain range from North to South via 3 French departments.
Amélie from the Hellolaroux blog
Amélie, blogger and adventurer, walked the entire GTJ trail in July 2021
This summer I couldn't resist the call of this new adventure on the natural border between France and Switzerland. I succumbed to the charm of Jura, this mid-elevation mountain range with varied landscapes, from the winding River Doubs to the dizzying summits. Not forgetting the spring flowers in full bloom that I photographed from every angle, and the proud people who are so welcoming. If you fancy a change of scene, filling your lungs with fresh air and walking alone between lakes, rivers and forests, the GTJ is the trail for you! Don't be put off by the length of the itinerary (400km), as it can be split into shorter sections. In this article, I suggest an easier hike of 4 days on the GTJ, through the most beautiful settings of Ain in the south of the Jura Mountains.
Amélie Blondiaux - Hellolaroux