Passing from France to Switzerland, this section of the Via Francigena will take you through Alpine influenced villages and towns, where you will also have the opportunity to sample local wines and food. Since this is a very scenic route, there are numerous with photographic opportunities for everyone.
FREE This trip createstonne(s) of CO2, we offset it for free
Listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Lods (pronounced “Lo”) is crossed by the Loue river. The village specialises in wine production and iron forging. The best place to admire the village is from the main bridge. From here you can see an old moss-covered bridge in ruins and the Jura mountains in the background. Lods is a typical village with charming houses made of stone.
Saint-Croix Home of the dream maker
The little town of Sainte-Croix in Switzerland is world-renowned for its delicate music boxes and nickelodeons. The village itself is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites and is charming to walk around. But one of the most attractive things around Sainte-Croix is the landscapes. If you want to reconnect with yourself and take a real break this is the place to do it. The Jura’s route offers you the repose of the soul. The fresh air will give you some energy for the rest of the trip.
Food and Wine from France to Switzerland
First thing you have to learn before your trip is that you are in one of the best regions for a perfect comfort meal. After your daily journey, we advise you to try the “Boite Chaude”. This baked cheese is similar to a Mont d’Or, a cheese made in the Jura region. It’s kind of like fondue, but we think it is much better. Usually, the Mont d’Or will come with potatoes and Morteau sausage.
At the end of the meal, try a glass of the Pontarlier Anis or a little bit of the famous Absinthe. They will warm you up and help you relax.
Besancon to Lausanne
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Arrive into Besançon. This ancient city is one of the best-preserved cities in France and has many tourist attractions such as the Citadel, the museums, or even just wandering around the city itself. While here, take the opportunity to sample the locally produced Comté cheese, and the Saucisse de Morteau, which is a smoked sausage. Wash it down with some vin jaune the most renowned wine from this region.
Day 2 27.6km
From Besançon you will leave the city and climb over the wooded ridge. At the top of this ridge, you can take a short detour to visit the Notre-Dame de la Libération monument which has some spectacular views over the region on a clear day. Descending from the ridge, you will traverse farmland and woods over rolling hills with welcoming villages along the way to La Veze. This is a lovely place to stop for a break before heading on to Tarcenay and then your destination for today, Ornans. The town of Ornans is perched on the river La Loue. The houses here hang over the river bank reflecting their image and creating a fairy-tale wonder to this town. This is also the birthplace of the pre-impressionist painter Courbet, who has a museum of his work in the town.
Day 3 13.8km
Walk along the valley floor, following the river La Loue to the village of Vuillafans. From this village, you will be walking on a country track on the side of the hill meandering your way around to the village of Lods. Lods is officially classified as one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (the most beautiful villages of France). With its petite tumbling waterfalls running through the village and old stone collages that are traditional winegrowers houses from the 16th and 17th century, this quiet village is a must for a break. After, you will wind along the valley floor until you arrive at your stop for the night, Mouthier-Haute-Pierre. Nestled at the foot of the steep cliffs of Haute-Pierre, the scenery surrounding this picturesque village is beautiful. Here you can sample local produce and be sure to try the locally produced and renowned Kirsch.
Day 4 22.1km
From Mouthier-Haute-Pierre you have two options, a shorter route following the road to the village of Ouhans or you can take the more scenic route, which is slightly longer but takes you past the Source of the Loue. There is a visitor centre here and it is worth a visit. Arriving into Ouhans, you will wind over forested hills and through fields before coming to your destination for today, Pontarlier. This ancient town has many attractions and is the last town in France before you cross over into Switzerland. Famous for its absinthe production until it was banned in 1915, it produces this drink on a smaller scale since the repeal of the ban in the 1990s. Les Misérables fans will recognise the name of this town as where Jean Valjean was to report for his parole.
Day 5 10km
Leaving Pontarlier flanked by forested hills, you will pass through a small collection of hamlets where you can stop for a picnic or early morning break. Drink in the breathtaking view of mountains and valleys and the imposing 1000-year-old castle, Château de Joux. After walking along the valley floor for a while, you will climb up a forested hillside to the village of Les Fourgs before crossing the border into Switzerland. In Switzerland, you will follow the Grand Rue before ascending one final wooded ridge to arrive at Sanit-Croix, your stop for the night. With panoramic views of the Alps, this Swiss town is the home of Dream Makers, the craftsmen who create music boxes and to which a museum is dedicated.
Day 6 30km
YVERDON LES BAINS
The walk today will be predominantly downhill to the town of Yverdon les Bains which sits on the Lac de Neuchâtel. Descending from the town of Sainte Croix, you will meander through forest pathways crisscrossing your way down to Vuiteboeuf before wandering across the countryside to Yverdon les Bains. This town has a long history and is full of medieval and neoclassical buildings. However, the town is most famous for is its spa, a nice treat after a long day of walking.
Day 7 2.2km
YVERDON LES BAINS
From Yverdon les Bains, you will make your way across the countryside through arable farmlands passing by small alpine villages, where you can enjoy a short break and refreshment or snack. Passing through a large plain of crop fields with the mountains flanking you in the distance on your right, you will arrive into Orbe. This Roman and medieval town is worth spending some time wandering around. Visit the Swiss Reformed Church of Notre-Dame and the Orbe Castle that is situated beside it. Within easy walking distance is the oldest stone bridge in Switzerland on the Rue du Moulinet.
Day 8 14.2km
From Orbe, the walk undulates over large open crop fields and through small alpine towns and villages. Many buildings here looking like they are straight out of a fairytale book. Your stop for tonight will be Cossonay, here you can wander around the town and enjoy some local cuisine in one of the many café’s or restaurants. Be sure to also visit the picturesque Church of St-Pierre and St-Paul.
Day 9 19km
Starting from Cossonay, enjoy the countryside and small villages as you walk down towards the outer suburbs of Lausanne. The walk continues through the urban areas leading into Lausanne. Lausanne is home to the Olympic Committee and also has an Olympic Museum. This French-speaking city has many cultural attractions such as a beautiful Gothic Cathedral and the Château Saint-Maire. A walk around this city will provide many opportunities for budding photographers to capture not only the architecture of the city but also the panoramic views over the lake. For those with a head for heights they can climb the Sauvabelin Tower for 360° panoramic view over the city and surrounding area.
After breakfast, we bid you farewell, or welcome you to the next section of the Via Francigena.