The grand traverse of the Jura mountains (‘the GTJ’) is a bike trip that runs the entire length of the natural border between France and Switzerland. It was originally created in the 70s as a long cross-country ski network. Twenty years later, when mountain biking was exploding as a cycling discipline in France, the trails were adapted for summer as the first MTB ‘grand traverse’.
- LA MAISON
- LA VIE
JURASICK PARK – Riding The Jura Mountains
As you know from previous adventures, at PCR Gravier we have a real taste for such rough stuff gravel cycling and post-lockdown the Jura mountains were a perfect choice. So we decided to go and mix it up between 6 friends, 6 bikes, over 4 days with a lot of cameras and one big 16mm video camera that weighs 100kg.
1 // G for Gravel
To say that the GTJ serves up a lot of gravel would be an understatement. The route lists a lot of tracks certified has gravel but (…there is always a but…), it has to be believed that some parts of the landscape are really still in the dinosaur era here, with the amount of rocky scree that lies in the undergrowth.
Our traverse really is ‘all-terrain’ with a fair amount of muddy single-track, rocks and so much wooden MTB ‘North Shore’ that we lost count in the first two days. This is clearly the feature you will come across the most on the GTJ.
NB : we also tested the Olympic ski jump at Chaux-Neuve, but the take-off lacked a bit of gravel for our taste.
2// T for Time Out
We don’t see these trips as a big sporting challenge, our style is more often to appreciate the places and, to do so, we stop on the terraces of the small villages. This works well as the Jura has at its disposal a good number of small bars and café for us to hydrate ourselves. So much so that the time on the terraces has been introduced into the established PCR Gravier measurement of fun that is the ratio of photos to kilometres. To this we have now added the challenge of stopping on at least two terraces per day.
Spoiler Alert : we managed it with flying colours.
Whoever said ‘time out’ also said ‘holiday house’. And, as luck would have it, Pierre’s family have one at Mouthe. It’s the kind of house that’s so big you need a climbing rope to mount the stairs between the different floors. Needless to say, our tents stayed in our bags and we find ourselves lounging inside, sipping on the local specialty liquor, Pontarlier Anis. Or as the locals call it “Le Pont”.
And then, the cabins. Everyone loves cabins and we can’t talk about the Jura without mentioning the cabins. For us, they manage to come just at the right time : before a storm that nobody had predicted on the first day, or arriving perfectly for a lunchtime stop on our way towards the town of Les Rousses.
The cabin stops are the perfect moment to practice your harmonica skills, throw stones, our start a game of ‘little pig’. In summary, as you might have guessed, cabins equal leisure to us.
3// J for Jurasick
The landscapes of the Jurassic Park film are well known, but it’s certain that the next sequel could be shot in the Jura mountains. With the two camps that we made - one on the side of the cliff and one in the forest, we can confirm there is no lack of pretty places to pitch a tent. The Jura allowed us to reconcile ourselves with Mother Nature, after she’d been a bit rude with us via her weather behaviour in the past. Maybe confinement has chilled her out, who knows.
We have seen dinosaurs, in resin, of course, but at a scale of 1: 1. Although, it’s impossible not to notice that it’s our bovine friends who reign as kings over the park. A cow is less impressive than a T-rex, we grant you. But on the other hand, we have seen all colours and all sizes!
In any case, the Jura is a playground well-preserved and protected and the grand traverse is as well marked as it is maintained. In fact, it’s so well done, we want to return quickly!