Maison du Parc in the village of Lajoux from 3-4 September.
With lush forested mountains and fertile valleys, this breathtaking part of the department is an unpolluted nature haven where flora and fauna thrive. Among the varied wildlife you might spot here are chamois, lynx and capercaillie, a type of large grouse.
The area exudes a feeling of space and calm. Small villages and Swiss-style wooden chalets dot a landscape which is mostly agricultural and inhabited by those who seek a rural retreat far from the pressures of city life. Some hamlets are so remote they don’t have mains water; instead the large roofs capture and channel rainwater which is then filtered for washing and cleaning.
Mountain meadows teem with wildflowers in the summer months; the most noticeable is the gentian flower, a tall robust plant with yellow flowers whose roots are used to make a local liqueur, liqueur de gentian, a thick concoction drunk mostly by hardy locals and unwitting tourists.
These lush green valleys are home to the region’s famous Montbéliarde cows – the only breed allowed to make the famous Comté cheese. The area is home to 200 fruitières (co-operatives) that use traditional methods to produce Comté cheese between March and September.
During autumn and winter, the cow’s milk is used to make Vacherin cheese, also AOC-certified, and used to make fondu and raclette – a popular mountain dish in which melted cheese is poured over potatoes.
TOWNS AND VILLAGES
The outstanding natural beauty of Jura isn’t the only string to its bow. The department is home to a number of historic towns and villages. Jura’s largest town is Dole, a designated ville d’art et d’histoire situated on a hillside overlooking the River Doubs. With narrow winding streets dating back to the 15th century, the Old Town is centred around the magnificent Baroque collegiate church of Notre-Dame. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is also worth a visit and houses a collection of mainly French paintings from the 15th to the 20th century.
South of Dole is departmental capital Lons-le-Saunier, a spa town that sits between the River Bresse and the mountains. The town boasts a good selection of restaurants, pretty arcaded