For 30 years, our editor Roland Hügi has been exploring Switzerland on two wheels. Note to keen cyclists and mountain bikers: he shares with us his favourite routes throughout the whole country. From the Jura to Engadin, he unveils places of particular beauty and gives tips for inspiration.
Lac de Joux: Alpine meadow or road
Even though you can almost always see the lake in front of you, the stretch between L’Abbaye and Le Sentier at the other end of the lake – on a main road with cycle lane – isn't exactly a highlight. Making the ride along the left bank of the lake all the more relaxing. There are plenty of opportunities here to stop directly by the lake and enjoy the views out over its calm surface.
In Le Revers, cyclists have to choose between an Alpine meadow or the more comfortable road. If your bicycle has decent tyres and suspension, you can opt for the mountain bike trail. Everyone else is advised to follow the road through the village of Séchey. In our case, we chose the Alpine meadow. Which led to a surprising encounter: a small herd of practically tame chamois were grazing right by the side of the trail. They weren't disturbed in the slightest by the passing hikers and bikers, who enthusiastically pulled out their cameras. In Les Charbonnières – about three kilometres away – the two routes meet up again: by Lac Brenet, the small lake neighbouring Lac de Joux.
Setting off from the foot of the Jura
However, the starting point for this cycle tour is another mystical place: the small village of Romainmôtier at the foot of the Jura mountains. The settlement of no more than 100 houses is dominated by the imposing abbey church, a historical monument unlike any other in Switzerland. According to legend, the original monastery dates back to the 5th century, making it the earliest founding of a monastery on Swiss soil. Even if you're not a big fan of old buildings, this place, tucked away in a narrow valley, casts a spell all of its own. An absolute must on this cycle tour.
Lac de Joux cycle tour
Route length: 50 kilometres
Ascent: 850 metres
Duration: 3.5 hours
Noteworthy: the tour is also suitable for e-bikes.
Classic Jura landscape
From Romainmôtier, the journey continues through the small villages of Jurien and Vaulion, up to a classic Jura landscape: with Alpine pastures, stone dykes and wispy morning clouds hanging over damp meadows, all of which lend the landscape a certain charm. The Hôtel des trois Coeurs (i.e. 'three hearts') stands at the side of the road in Vaulion. It's true, there are a few metres in altitude to be tackled. But these are all gentle climbs that don't require three hearts' worth of effort. Although we're on a main road, there is barely any traffic on this summer morning, allowing our thoughts to wander and soak up the landscape. Shortly before the village of L’Abbaye, the view opens up to reveal the legendary Lac de Joux, which has no natural outlet. Instead the water seeps down into the karst substratum and only rises from the ground again in Vallorbe, where it forms the source of the Orbe river.
Heritage site of national importance
It's time for a rest in Le Pont. Situated directly on the shore, and looking out over the entire length of the lake, the village is classed as a heritage site of national importance. Its building façades form a neat architectural ensemble along the lake. Now strengthened, the journey back to the starting point can begin. There is yet another pass to be tackled – the Col du Mollendruz. But with an uphill climb of only 200 metres, it doesn't pose a problem. After a few kilometres' descent, we turn right towards La Praz and then back to Romainmôtier. But not without stopping along the way to enjoy the expansive views towards Lake Geneva and the French Alps.
Fancy a shortcut?
The tour can generally also be shortened. If you merely want to take in the delights of Lac de Joux, it's best to start off and finish in Le Pont directly by the lake. That practically rules out any uphill cycling