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Motorcycle Tour Through the Swiss Jura
Let's start our journey at the extreme western end of Switzerland. The mountain ranges of the Jura stretching out between Basel and Geneva have a fascinating character all of their own: peaks rising to above 1600 m, high, isolated valleys, Alpine pastures, forests. The Jura is the perfect region for explorers and anyone who enjoys beautiful unspoiled scenery.
From Lausanne to Neuchâtel
The starting point for the tour of the Jura is Lausanne (1) on Lake Geneva, headquarters of the IOC, a university city and host to many congresses. The best route to use as a warm-up is the road following the edge of the lake in a westerly direction to Morges. Then you ride to Aubonne, passing through the vineyards of the "Cote", and on via St. George to the Col du Marchairuz, which will take you up to above 1400 metres, surrounded by the solitude of high mountains. On the other side of the pass lies the Vallée de Joux and its lake sharing the same name. This valley is known as the cradle of the art of watchmaking, and so the watchmaking museum Espace Horloger, in the village of Le Sentier, is a non-negotiable stop for anyone who really wants to get to know this region and its inhabitants.
Another historic site is a fortification near Vallorbe dating from the Second World War. At that time it was intended to secure the nearby border with France, and now it is a site worth a visit. The route then passes through Orbe and leaves the mountains for the time being, leading to Yverdon on Lake Neuchâtel. From here onwards the road becomes considerably more challenging again, passing first through Sainte-Croix and the Col des Etroits to Fleurier in the Val-de-Travers. From here you head down the valley to Couvet, famous amongst other things as the place where the legendary herb-based spirit absinthe was invented.
Tucked away behind the railway station here is the junction of a little road leading to the greatest natural phenomenon in the region, the Creux du Van. It is absolutely worth making the detour to see this semi-circular cauldron of rock with its vertical walls towering 160 metres above you. From here you ride back down to Couvet and then follow the valley back to Neuchâtel (2). Alternatively you might decide to tackle even more bends and ride north to La Brévine and on via Les Ponts-de-Martel and La Sagne as far as the old road that links the watch-making city of La Chaux-de-Fonds with Neuchâtel (2). Anyone who still hasn't had enough can ride towards Neuchâtel (2) as far as the junction for Cernier and Dombresson. Just before the road reaches the Col des Pontins there is a small road branching off to the right; this leads to Col de Chasseral.
Standing 1607 metres above sea level, the Chasseral is one of the highest peaks in the Jura and the view from there is simply stunning. You look down almost 1200 metres to the lakes below, and in clear weather you can see far away into the Alps and the peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The descent on this small mountain road is yet another highpoint in terms of landscape. And the best way to unwind at the end of the day's riding is with an absinthe by the "Quai du Port" in Neuchâtel (2).
- Top image: Creux du Van: A highpoint on any tour of the Jura. It's a must see! © swiss-image.ch/Roland Gerth
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1 Maps note
To ensure you are able to try out our touring suggestions for yourself, the gpx downloads provided here offer a large number of intermediate destinations. This means they have a high data volume and cannot be directly represented on every sat nav system. To modify this, you can import these gpx files into the routing program suitable for your sat nav, and then divide them into portions digestible for the device. The final file size is then dependent upon the sat nav model and the accompanying software version. If you do not have routing software, this file can also be edited in the standard online routing systems. They offer the appropriate conversion tools for virtually all devices on the market.