One of the less visited areas of France, Jura is a diverse landscape of plains, vineyard-clad hills and the rugged Jura Mountains, which it shares with neighbouring Switzerland. There’s some spectacular scenery and delicious food, but most exciting of all is the unique vin jaune (‘yellow wine’) that has made this region famous among oenophiles the world over. Of course, you should drive up to Chateau Chalon for the views (and perhaps a tasting at Berthet-Bondet) and visit France’s oldest wine-growing chateau, d’Arlay, for a tour of the 1000-year-old estate. Here are five more experiences not to miss in this wonderful little corner of eastern France.
Stay Les Jardins Sur Glantine
Step through the huge wooden doors and be transported back in time. With just two suites off the enclosed ancient courtyard, book early to enjoy the gorgeous rambling terraced garden, Nathalie’s legendary breakfasts (those freshly baked madeleines!) and Ludwig’s rustic cellar. Hospitality at its finest.
Fine Dining Maison Jeunet
From the respectful restoration of a classic building, well-spaced tables, friendly service and great wine by the glass, to the simply delicious food, this Arbois icon has long been Jura’s must-do dining experience. It’s better than ever under chef-owner Steven Naessens – and the snails, dare I say it, are as good as Bocuse’s.
Drink Domaine Baud Generation 9
Many Jura winemakers only accept visitors by appointment; not so the Baud family in Le Vernois whose ninth generation, Clementine and Bastien, now oversees the production of all the Jura classics, white chardonnay and savagnin, red trousseau and poulsard, vin jaune, crémant, vin de paille and Jura’s unique fortified, Macvin.
Drive to the end of the narrow sheer-sided valley to view the Tolkienesque moss-covered waterfall, then grab a window table for a delicious lunch at the cosy Le Grand Jardin. Rightly named one of the most beautiful villages in France, Baume-les-Messieurs also boasts grottoes and an historic abbey to visit.
Eat Bresse Chicken
Between touring vineyards, head to neighbouring Bourg-en-Bresse (home of the only PDO chicken, Poulet de Bresse) to lunch at Brasserie Le Français. Each Bresse chicken, raw or cooked, wears a distinctive little tricolore metal tag verifying its origin. Cooked in vin jaune with morels, it’s the classic Jura dish.