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A perfect weekend in the Jura

From cheese factory tours to picnicking beside waterfalls and everything in between – winery visits included – making the Jura your next viticultural destination promises a whole lot of reward.

For vacation-bound wine lovers, Burgundy may seem like the more obvious choice, though planning a wine-soaked weekend in the Jura promises an equally spectacular time – especially for those looking to indulge in activities beyond tasting.

Friday

Château Chalon. Credit: Photononstop / Alamy Stock Photo

Evening

Arriving in the Jura from Paris takes approximately 4 ½ hours by car or about two hours by train to Dole, depending on which line (fast TGV or local TER), then 30 minutes by rental car from there. Whether driving from Paris directly or renting a car upon arriving in Dole, having an autonomous means of transportation is essential in the Jura, as the majority of worthwhile activities cannot be accessed by public transportation.

Head straight to Closerie les Capucines (7 Rue de Bourgogne, 39600 Arbois) and check into your accommodation. Located in the heart of the village of Arbois, this intimate chambre d’hôtes provides a quaint-yet-luxurious home base for exploring the Jura. The recently renovated hotel was purchased and refurbished by renowned wine importer Neal Rosenthal, who first fell in love with the wines of the Jura back in 1994. The lodging’s hospitality-focused staff promise a warm welcome, with a thirst-quenching glass of wine or quick hit of caffeine only a simple ask away.

Kick the evening off with an apéritif at Le Bistrot des Claquets, (33 Rue de Faramand, 39600 Arbois) a no-frills wine bar just a stone’s throw away from the Closerie. (Simply cross over the bridge, take a left, and you’re there in less than one minute.) Grab a casual glass or bottle prior to dinner, and don’t be surprised if you end up bumping elbows with a few local winemakers.

For those looking to enjoy delicious food and wine without the worry of driving home, you’re in luck. Le Bistronome (62 Rue de Faramand, 39600 Arbois) is one of Arbois’ best restaurants, and happens to be just around the corner from Le Bistrot des Claquets. Do your best to snag a table by the window and delight in the sounds—and view—of the Cuisance by night. Expect seasonal French fare prepared at the hands of chefs Lisa et Jérôme, who spent five years working under world-renowned chef Jean-Paul Jeunet. For current menu offerings, as well as a complete list of where local products including escargots, bread, and coffee are sourced from, click here.


Saturday

Credit: Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Morning

Start the day with coffee, pastries, savoury eggs, and more at Closerie les Capucines, prepared fresh-to-order by the team. For those looking to break a sweat before a long day of exploring, depart the hotel and venture out for a scenic run along the Cuisance; those looking to lounge in luxury can simply rest by the hotel’s pool and bask in the morning sun.

For wine lovers curious to discover tasting rooms around the region, we recommend booking appointments for late Saturday morning or afternoon (not during lunch hours, of course) on Saturday over Sunday. Head southwest to the scenic Château Chalon or L’Etoile area for a breathtaking drive through the region. Explore local wineries such as Domaine de Montbourgeau or Domaine Berthet-Bondet, though be sure to call or email and reserve in advance.

Afternoon

After a long morning of tasting south of Arbois, head to lunch at Café Restaurant de l’Abbaye (1 Pl. Guillaume de Poupet, 39570 Baume-les-Messieurs) while in the area of Baume-les-Messieurs. This traditional French restaurant offers gourmet cuisine focused around local flavours and delicacies, prepared at the hands of Chef Francis Piot. All meat and fish is sourced sustainably, and a majority of the menu’s offerings are crafted from organic products. Serious cheese fans, the fondue is a must – and be sure to save room for dessert.

Although the majority of folks won’t find themselves hungry after lunch at the Café de l’Abbaye, for cheese lovers, a visit to the Maison de La Vache qui rit (25 Rue Richebourg, 39000 Arbois) is a must. Located just in 15-20 minutes by car from the restaurant, this light-hearted visit offers a journey through the company’s history, with audio tours available for visiting guests. Founded by Léon Bel’s granddaughter, Catherine Sauvin, back in 2009, this 2,200-square meter space offers insight on both cheese production marketing, and even healthy eating, all delivered in a joyful tone against a lively backdrop.

For those looking to hit a winery on the way back to Arbois, stop in Poligny and visit the dynamic, forward-thinking Valentin Morel. As always, be sure to call or email in advance. Should a trip to the cheese maison not be your thing, head back to Arbois and take a visit at the Musée de la Vigne et du Vin du Jura (Rue du Château Pecauld, 39600 Arbois) – just be sure to get there before it closes at 6:00PM.

Evening

Back in Arbois, head for a refreshing, pre-dinner apéritif at Bistrot Le Pixie’s (37 Pl. de la Liberté, 39600 Arbois) for a cold beer, tasty snacks, and if you’re lucky, a good dose of rock and roll. Over ten beers are served on tap at a time, though the bar’s non-tap offerings go far beyond what one can count on two hands. Should you find yourself peckish, hefty cheese and charcuterie boards are available.

Before heading to dinner at Le Grapiot (Rue Bagier, 39600 Pupillin), drive up to the village of Pupillin for a breathtaking, panoramic view of the Jura’s vine-covered landscape. If you’re able, secure a tasting appointment with nearby Domaine de la Renardière before heading back down for dinner – and be sure to ask for a taste of Jean-Michel’s son’s latest beer project. End the night with dinner at Le Grapiot, a wine-focused restaurant with a love for tradition and all things terroir-focused. Savour seasonal plates crafted by Julie and Samuel Richardet, finished with the restaurant’s signature nems au chocolat or ploussard-flavoured sorbet.


Sunday

Credit: mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Morning

Post-cozy coffee and breakfast at the Closerie, take a quiet stroll around Arbois and enjoy the medieval scenery. Take in the energy of Place de la Liberté, and be sure not to miss a stroll over the beautiful Pont des Capucins. After savouring your breath of fresh Arbois air, hop in the car and drive 12 minutes to the Cascade de Tufs, a breathtaking waterfall accessible by foot (and perfect for late-morning picnics, pastries, and if the weather permits, a quick dip).

After exploring the waterfalls, head back to Arbois and stock up on souvenirs at a handful of local purveyors, including Vins et Vinaigres (16 Grande Rue, 39600 Arbois) and Hirsinger (36 Grande Rue, 39600 Arbois), one of the finest chocolateries in all of France. This historic chocolate factory has been in the family for multiple generations and is now spearheaded by Edouard Hirsinger, fourth-generation chocolatier and Meilleur Ouvrier de France. Delight in the factory’s gorgeous, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates (be sure to taste the red tablette), and don’t leave without a visit to the iconic chocolate museum, located in the factory’s basement.

Afternoon

Post-chocolate coma, head to lunch at Aux Docks Brasserie for delicious, no fuss French cuisine. Should the weather cooperate, grab a table on the outdoor terrasse, which is perfect for people watching and taking in a bit of sun. Expect French classics like moules frites and entrecôte, and for vegetarians/vegans, you’re in luck, as the brasserie can accommodate dietary restrictions.

Upon finishing lunch, stroll along the Cuisance and pay a visit to the House of Louis Pasteur (83 Rue de Courcelles, 39600 Arbois), located on the Canal des Tanneurs. This historical site is situated in the former home of the 19th century scientist, who is best known for his research in fermentation and pasteurisation. End the afternoon on a high note with a visit to some of the region’s top tasting rooms, located right in the heart of Arbois’ city centre. Walkable (and open on Sunday) tasting rooms include Rolet Père et Fils (hours: 10AM-1230 PM, 1:30 PM-7PM), Domaine de la Pinte (9:30AM-12PM, 2:30PM-7PM) and Jacques Tissot (10AM-12PM, 3PM-7PM).

For further recommendations, check out the Decanter travel guide to the Jura.


A Note on Wine Tasting / Winery Visits

As with many French viticultural regions, a number of tasting rooms are easily accessible without reservation (see recommendations in the Sunday afternoon portion of the itinerary above). However, for those looking to dive deeper into regional domaines and vineyards, calling or emailing in advance to schedule an appointment is highly recommended. Accessing wineries in the Jura is best done by car.


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