Saignelégier, le Marché-Concours national de chevaux. Foto/Photo: TES.

Hiking in the Franches-Montagnes

The hiking trail in the Franches-Montagnes offers everything that the Jura has to offer in winter. Snow-covered meadows, beech, oak, pine forests, rocky cliffs, streams, farms, fens, and villages alternate.

The hike starts in Saignelégier, the capital of the Franches-Montagnes (canton of Jura). This area is the bastion of Swiss horse breeding. The national horse market (le Marché-Concours national de chevaux), which takes place on the second Sunday in August, is considered the canton’s most prominent (folkloristic) event.

The Étang des Royes and the quarry (Carrière) des Royes are remarkable hiking tracks. The quarry for the extraction of marlstone owes its existence to the collision of the continental plates of Africa and Europe 230 million years ago.

The result was the Alps and the Jura, surrounded by seas. This limestone developed on the seafloor over millions of years. Fossils in the limestone bear witness to the presence of oceans.

The creation of the Étang des Royes is of considerably more recent date. It is a remnant of the last ice age, 10 000 years ago. The many water sources in the Jura also led to the formation of peat bogs.

As early as 1589, a grain mill powered by water power was located at the Étang des Royes. Today, it is a nature reserve without industrial activities.

The village of Pré-Petitjean (Montfaucon), a little further on, has a railway station as a link for the weary and a good restaurant for hungry hikers. The village is also the seat of Le train à vapeur des Franches-Montagnes (Steam Train of the Franches-Montagnes).

The walk continues to the train stations in La Combe and La Combe Tabeillon through a picturesque setting of cliffs, streams, small gorges and along the Étang de Bollement, a nature reserve.

The Swiss Alpine Club (Schweizer Alpen Club, SAC/Club Alpin Suisse, CAS) regularly organises hiking trips in this area (and elsewhere).

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