Grand Traverse of the Jura
The Grande Traversée du Jura (or GTJ) is a fabulous journey over the Jura mountains crossing through France and parts of Switzerland. Located not far from Geneva, the journey is made on classic cross country skis. This 142km long-distance ski trail was first completed in 1978 and is nearly all on prepared, pressed tracks.
Our route starts in the Haut Joux, Switzerland and finishes at Giron in the Ain département crossing the Jura and the Haut-Jura regional nature reserves. The ski route with it's varied terrain and relief can't fail to impress you with it's natural charm and beautiful landscapes. The inhabitants take immense pride in their local produce and culture - and this journey offers a taste of it all.
Each day we aim to cover approximately 20-30km of the tracks whilst carrying a small day pack. Each night we arrive at our hotel or gite to find our luggage waiting for us.
- Make a continuous 6-day ski tour across the Jura
- Ski 142km on prepared trails - Ascend 2685m - Descend 2705m!
- Stay in characterful accommodation in gîtes and hotels
- We are one of the few operators offering this classic ski journey
- All luggage transported for you - so carry just a day pack
GRADE UPDATE: the GTJ traverse is designed for those that can confidently get on their skis and go! We grade this trip as an intermediate/advanced trip. On our first day we will spend time to find our ski legs but we do expect participants to be able ski a variety of terrain and longer journeys of 20-30km in length. Participants should be able to ski at a good pace and have mastered a controlled snowplough for both undulating and any steeper descents. You should be at a very good fitness level and be able to ski up to 6 hours per day.
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Sitting on the border of both France and Switzerland, the Jura, a limestone plateau, lies very close to Geneva. Steeped in history, geology and gastronomy it also has mountains that go on for miles, but unlike the jagged peaks of the Alps it's of the 'Nordic rolling' variety. This unique trip which gives a real sense of making a journey is all on skis. Despite its popularity it's not unusual to ski all day without seeing any other skiers.
Bespoke Jura Trips
This trip can also be organised as a bespoke holiday where the itinerary can be changed to match the quantity of days, ski locations and distances that suit the requirements of your group.
Day 1 Meet in St Croix - Switzerland
The group meets at a typical hotel in the small Swiss town of St Croix. Your guide will be at your accommodation in the afternoon to assist with organising any ski hire and to brief you on the days ahead. The town has ATMs, a tourist office, post office, sports shop, supermarket and pharmacy, useful for any last minute purchases. We eat in a local restaurant tonight where many local dishes are available.
Day 2 Les Fourgs to Metabief
We begin our Jura crossing by taking a short taxi transfer to the trail head at Les Fourgs where we can buy our GTJ ski passes. We allow time to find our ski legs and get used to the equipment before skiing along gentle terrain through pine trees and across snow covered meadows. From here the ski trail continues up and rises over to Metabief, a small ski town and our destination for the day. Accommodation is in a small hotel. Some small shops are accessible here. Total distance skied: 20km Ascent: 230m Descent: 350m.
Day 3 Metabief to Mouthe
Depending on the snow level we may take a short transfer to the trail head or in good winter seasons we leave Metabief and directly rejoin the trail. We climb into the woods and join a network of trails where we climb to the plateau of Mont d'Or. Alternating through forest and clearings used in summer as pasture for cattle. Their milk is used to produce local Mont d’Or cheese and where flowers of meadows help produce the unique flavours. The local produce includes ‘appellation contrôlée’ designations for good wine and cheese. The local cheese producers are called Fruitières and produce Comté, Morbier and Mont d’Or and Bleu de Gex. After lunch we enjoy skiing gently downhill to Mouthe and La Source du Doubs (the river source) a short final climb takes us to our accommodation at the family run 'gîte' Chez Liadet for the night. Total distance skied: 29km Ascent: 630m Descent: 500m.
Day 4 Mouthe to Chapelle des Bois
The next three days of our journey take us in line with the race course of the world famous Transjurassiene, France's longest cross-country ski race. The Transjurassienne is the most important cross-country ski event in France and is held in February each year. The course starts in Lamoura and a variety of races traverse up to 76kms of hilly ski trails before the finish line in Mouthe. Thousands of skiers from across the world congregate to attempt the event which takes place over 2 days. Our journey takes us into fabulous pines woods and past summer meadows linking us to Pre Poncet for lunch. As we enter the Combe des Cives the terrain angle eases for an enjoyable ski to a well earned cake stop at Chalet Anges. Another hour or so brings us to Chappelle des Bois and tonight we can enjoy the hospitality of 'Coco' in the 'gîte' Chez l'Aime. Total distance skied: 26.5km Ascent: 390m Descent: 370m.
Day 5 Chapelle des Bois to Les Rousses
Chapelle des Bois in the Haut Jura boasts first class ski trails and it's quite often to pass practising race teams here. From Coco's gîte we take to the trails once more and initially ski to Bellefontaine before starting to climb into the Forêt Risoux. Once our main climb is complete we now enjoy rolling well pressed trails all the way to Les Rousses, the home to the French National Nordic Ski School and where several Olympic champions have come from this area. There are over 220km of pisted cross country trails for those with enough energy! A relatively easy day means there is usually time in the afternoon to wander around the specialised cross-country ski shops, enjoy afternoon tea, buy local produce or visit the village cheese farm. Total distance skied: 17km Ascent: 345m Descent 385m.
Day 6 Les Rousses to Lajoux
We leave Les Rousses and first cross the meadows towards Premanon and the wooded entrance to another popular ski location, visited by many ski teams the Forêt du Massacre provides excellent views and some first class skiing. The Forest, houses some of the oldest fir trees in France and is named after an ancient battle in the area, very close to the Swiss border. Our high point for the day is in the heart of the forest at chalet 'La Frasse' where we can enjoy a well earned coffee and cake stop before our rolling descent to the delightful village of Lajoux. Total distance skied: 21km Ascent: 425m Descent: 340m.
Day 7 Lajoux to Giron
Our final day and one of the toughest to complete our 180km traverse. We leave Lajoux for the Bellecombe or 'beautiful bowl' which is an open pasture winding it's way along side the Haute Jura chain and limestone crest where we have opportunities for plenty of lunch and stops for hot drinks along the way. After a series of climbs we reach the high point just under the Cret au Merle (1448m), a fitting spot to bask in our achievements as the end of the journey nears. To complete this fantastic journey we make a gradual rolling descent through the forest to the trail end at Giron where a vin chaud and celebratory meal awaits! Total distance skied: 28.5km Ascent: 665m Descent: 740m.
Day 8 Departure
Today is departure day and the package ends after breakfast. Giron is a village approximately 30 minutes drive away from Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, a mainline TGV train station. We will arrange and include a group transfer down to Bellegarde today. You will need to arrange onwards travel by train from Bellegarde to Geneva. From Bellegarde it takes about 1 hour to get to Geneva airport costing approximately 12 Euros. Alternatively, depending on group numbers, our taxi transfer can continue onto Geneva airport taking another 45 mins and costs around 80 /100 Euros this could be shared by up to 5 people. The total travel time by taxi from Giron to Geneva is about 1h15. Your guide will make these arrangements for you during the trip.
Included: The price includes half board accommodation and local taxes, based on two people sharing or in some cases basic mixed non-segregated dormitory style accommodation. The accommodation arrangements are dependent on our group numbers and availability at the time of booking. On some nights twin rooms or singles can be arranged in advance which may incur an additional fee (please ask if you like this option upon booking). Luggage transfers (1x bag per person), the fees of a qualified Nordic Ski Instructor/International Mountain Leader and their expenses are also all included.
Not included: Insurance, flights & transfers, the GTJ ski pass (approximately 43 Euros for the week), ski hire and return, drinks, lunches & snacks and your evening meal on the first night.
If in the event of a poor winter season it could be that the complete traverse is not possible and that we are required to ski in different locations each day using a vehicle to transfer us along the lower sections (for more details see the bad weather options section below). Depending on the group size this may or may not incur an additional fee, however previously when we have used a vehicle back up it has not cost our clients any more.
This trip requires a minimum of 4 clients to run. We take a maximum of 8 clients.
Please note that you must have the appropriate insurance for your chosen activity. You must be covered for helicopter rescue, repatriation and medical costs. With regard to this please be sure you have read the Insurance section in our Terms and Conditions.
Cross country skiing equipment, which includes 'fishscale' classic skis (not skates or waxables), Salomon (or similar) boots and bindings, and poles, can be hired locally at the start of the traverse. The total ski hire for the week is 90 Euros per person (this includes the cost of returning the equipment to the hire shop at the end of the trip). You will make your payment directly to the guide (cash only). All equipment hire must be arranged in advance, as it will be necessary to pre-order correct sizes. Please make note of your equipment hire on our booking form. We will need to know your height, weight, normal shoe size (you must give us your everyday shoe size and not your personal adjustment for wearing boots) and the measurement of your height up to your armpits (for ski pole hire). The guide will accompany clients to the hire shop and at the end of the traverse, will collect any hire equipment and organise its return.
Upon booking a full list of the necessary suitable clothing will be provided.
The Alps are easily reached from other European and worldwide destinations by road, rail, coach or plane.
Our starting point is Saint-Croix in Switzerland and is easily reached from Geneva or Basel Airport by transferring by train - please consult www.sbb.ch for timetables entering the destination as Sainte-Croix, De France (Hotel). The cost of the train from Geneva is about 50 CHF taking 1h 50mins. Advanced booking is not necessary. Alternatively you may wish to travel entirely by rail in which case many high speed trains link via Besançon and out of Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. For suggested travel links please refer to our Booking & Information pages for further details.
If you would like to buy a map/guide book to track your journey along the way then your guide will have copies on sale at the welcome meeting for 12 Euros.
The Grand Traverse of the Jura is a classic cross-country ski tour and we are one of only three UK companies to offer this holiday. Tracks and Trails work as the main winter-specialist ground agent for booking this trip on behalf of other UK tour operators. Our clients could therefore join up with other adventurers who have booked via one of the few other specialist UK companies.
Accommodation Arrangements & Bad Weather Options
The complete Jura traverse is approximately 180km, which means we will ski anything from between 20-30km per day. The 30km days include some easier terrain. The accommodation available is varied in its facilities and due to availability we do not always use exactly the same places so it could mean the daily distances on the day to day itinerary vary by a few kilometres. Please note that your guide will try to fulfil the stated itinerary but this is dependent on weather/snow & track conditions at the time.
On this tour you will only need to carry a daysack whilst skiing and your main baggage will be transferred every day between accommodation points. Luggage will be mainly transported in cars and small vans so we would ask that you keep both size and weight of luggage to a respectable limit of around 12 kg (and only one bag per person), it is worth noting that you will be required to carry your own bag up and down from your accommodation every day. There are up to 4 nights in ‘dormitory’ style accommodation with space normally limited on these nights.
The Grand Traverse of the Jura passes through sparsely populated territory and accommodation choices, especially for groups, are very limited. Accommodation will be on a half-board basis at a mixture of small hotels and French-style gîtes. Facilities at each night stop will vary. Rooms will be a mixture of twin-share with en-suite facilities and more basic non-segregated dormitory style accommodation with shared bathroom, within either a gîte or hotel.
Lunches will normally be picnics bought from either our accommodation, bakeries or in cafes when we pass them - please feel free to bring additional hill snacks from home.
We run our GTJ traverse at a time of year when the snow is most reliable and the tracks are well maintained in preparation for one of France's most important cross country ski races. However, in the event of poor snow conditions, we will offer an alternative Jura ski itinerary visiting the highest Nordic ski areas both regionally and on the traverse offering the same quantity of kilometres per day.
As our niche trips such as the Grand Traverse of the Jura are of a specialised nature we work with our partner companies to attract sufficient clients to reach the minimum number of participants to allow these trips to go ahead, meaning you are more likely to have your chosen holiday 'guaranteed'. If you have any queries with regard to this please contact us.