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 180km, long distance ski trail was first completed in 1978 and is nearly all on prepared, pressed tracks. If it is peace and tranquility and a true taste of authentic mountain life you seek then look no further!
The route starts in the Val de Morteau in the Doubs département 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 25-30km 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 7-day ski tour across the Jura
- Ski 180km on prepared trails - Ascend 3300m - Descend 3520m!
- 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.
|Trip||Departure date||End date||Price||Status|
|GTJ1 14||Sat 18 January 14||Sun 26 January 14||£1295||Trip Guaranteed | Make a Booking|
|GTJ2 14||Sat 1 February 14||Sun 9 February 14||£1295||Trip Closed|
|GTJ3 14||Sat 22 February 14||Sun 2 March 14||£1295||Trip Closed|
|GTJ1 15||Sat 17 January 15||Sun 25 January 15||£1295||Places available | Make a Booking|
|GTJ2 15||Sat 31 January 15||Sun 8 February 15||£1295||Places available | Make a Booking|
|GTJ3 15||Sat 21 February 15||Sun 1 March 15||£1295||Places available | Make a Booking|
View Grand Traverse of the Jura in a larger map
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 Morteau
The group meets at Hotel La Guimbarde, a typical Logis de France hotel in the small French town of Morteau. 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. If you are arriving early we recommend the cafe on the road junction opposite the train station called Salon du The - 'Un Mond a Part'. Morteau is a small town, famous for the traditional smoked sausage produced in the Jura Mountains. Made from locally-made pork, the sausage must be smoked for 48 hours with sawdust from conifer and juniper. We eat in a local restaurant tonight where many local dishes are available.
Day 2 Le Gardot to Les Cernets
We begin our Jura crossing by taking a short taxi transfer to the trail head at Le Gardot. We allow time to find our ski legs skiing along gentle terrain through pine trees and across snow covered meadows to Les Seignes where we can rest for our picnic lunch. We ski on and the trail climbs more significantly now to cross the border hidden in the trees to then reach our hotel at Les Cernets in Switzerland, where we sleep the night. Enjoy a sauna here to ease off after our first day. Total distance skied: 23km Ascent: 520m Descent: 480m.
Day 3 Les Cernets to Metabief
We begin our morning with a descent to Les Verrières de Joux where we cross the border back into France and onto the next section of hillside. We hike for a very short while through the woods with our skis attached to our backpacks. Once back onto the tracks we enjoy a variety of rolling terrain to our lunch stop at 'gîte' Grange Bailly where we can take a breather, get a hot drink and have our picnic lunches. The second part of the day takes us to the farming village of Les Fourgs then onto the well kept trails to Les Hopitaux-Neufs. From here the ski trail continues onto 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: 29.5km Ascent: 530m Descent: 715m.
Day 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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. We make our gradual rolling descent through the forest towards the trail end at Giron where we’ll have time for a most deserved ‘vin chaud’, before transferring to the village of Lancrans for a celebratory dinner and final evening. Total distance skied: 28.5km Ascent: 665m Descent: 740m.
Day 9 Departure
Today is departure day and the package ends after breakfast. Lancrans is a village approximately 10 minutes drive away from Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. At the end of the tour, the train station at Bellegarde is a 5 minute taxi transfer from the hotel. You will need to arrange onwards travel by train from Bellegarde to Geneva. Bellegarde is on the mainline TGV railway and it takes about 1 hour to get to Geneva airport costing approximately 12 Euros. Alternatively, depending on group numbers, a taxi journey direct from the hotel to Geneva airport takes around 45 mins and costs around 80 /100 Euros this could be shared by up to 5 people. Further details on meeting arrangements will be provided with your booking confirmation.
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 BASI Nordic Ski Instructor/International Mountain Leader and their expenses are also all included.
Not included: Insurance, flights & transfers, the GTJ ski pass (approximately 42 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 anymore.
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), Saloman (or similar) boots and bindings, and poles, can be hired locally at the start of the traverse in Morteau. The total ski hire for the week is 95 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 in Morteau is easily reached from Geneva or Basel Airport by transferring by train - please consult www.sbb.ch for timetables. The cost of the train from Geneva is about 55 CHF taking 2h30mins. Alternatively you may wish to travel entirely by rail in which case many high speed trains link into Besançon and then onto Morteau. For suggested travel links please refer to our Booking & Information pages for further details.
If your arrival does not meet the trains into Morteau then taxis can be arranged from Le Locle to Morteau for approximately 40 CHF (which is approximately 35 Euros). We can help advise on all your travel arrangements and help with the group taxi transfer on the departure day.
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 175km, which means we will ski anything from between 20-30km per day. The 30km days include 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 gites. Facilities at each night stop will vary. Rooms will be a mixture of twin-share with ensuite 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