Rail route of the month: on the slow line through forests and meadows in the Swiss Jura

The man on the slow train through the Swiss Jura is keen to connect. When I mention that I have just travelled from Scotland, he leans forward and confides: “I can understand how they feel up there. We had to fight for our independence from Bern.”

The Jura region’s vote to secede from the canton of Bern in 1978 may not seem like a great upheaval in the broader sweep of European affairs, but issues of identity and autonomy run deep in the folded hills of the Swiss Jura. More than four decades on, the largely French-speaking République et Canton du Jura is still the newest in the Swiss Confederation. But that chance encounter on the train reminds me that there was a time when the question jurassienne provoked heated debates and even riots. There’s not a lot of talk of Jura libre in the hills these days, but there’s still a palpable sense of the this region being a place apart, a semi-detached portion of Switzerland with its own distinctive identity.

Free travel for visitors

“We have our own way of doing things,” says my fellow traveller. “We even have our own rail operator.” Les Chemins de fer du Jura is a company with strong local values that offers bus and rail services throughout the Jura. It’s an area blessed with excellent public transport, and slow trains and bus services are the perfect way to enjoy the rhythm of life here. Better still, it may not cost a cent. There are free travel schemes for visitors in many Swiss cantons, with particularly good arrangements in Ticino and Appenzell. In the Jura, the passport to free travel is the Jura-Pass guest card, given to visitors by accommodation owners; it offers free transport on the entire public-transport network within the Vagabond tariff association (Moutier and Tramelan, as well as Jura) and is valid from the time of arrival at your hotel until midnight on the day of departure (maximum 15 days).

I stayed in Glovelier, well up the Sorne valley from the cantonal capital of Delémont, my choice of base mediated by Glovelier’s nodal status in the transport network. This is a part of Switzerland made all the more accessible to rail travellers by the happy reopening in late 2018 of the long-defunct railway running south-east from the French city of Belfort into Switzerland. It’s now possible to travel from Paris to Glovelier in just three hours 33 minutes, with one easy change at Belfort-Montbéliard, where the train to Switzerland departs from the upper-level platform above the TGV station.

Know the terrain

Of the various rail excursions from Glovelier, the most interesting for newcomers to the region is the 32-mile (51km) line to La Chaux-de-Fonds, which is not in the canton of Jura at all but just over the border in neighbouring Neuchâtel. The Jura-Pass guest card is valid right through to La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Rail route of the month: on the slow line through forests and meadows in the Swiss Jura

La Chaux-de-Fonds Photograph: Mario Nowak/Getty Images

The red CJ train from Glovelier to La Chaux-de-Fonds doesn’t rush. The ride takes 75 minutes, with more than a dozen stops along the way. The railway, like the principal roads in the region, works with the grain of the land. The Jura is a series of long escarpments that trend from north-east to south-west, and the narrow-gauge railway cuts a similar course. It was the line of least resistance for the engineers who built the route between 1892 and 1910.

But it has its topographic challenges as I discover in the first few minutes of the journey. We climb up into the forested Tabeillon valley, the hillsides tilting ever more sharply. Faced with steep slopes ahead, the train stops at a remote platform, where it reverses. The driver walks through the train, exchanging greetings with a number of passengers, apologising that we are already two minutes late, and then begins to drive from the other end. Soon we are on the move again, zigzagging up the hillside to gain the flatter land on the ridge high above.

Our starting point in Glovelier was just 500 metres above sea level. Soon we are cresting the 800-metre contour where we remain for the rest of the journey to La Chaux-de-Fonds. There are two longish stretches at more than 1,000 metres. The secret of travel success in the Jura is to gain elevation and stay high. The flattest land is not in the tortured, rock-strewn valleys but high up near the crest of the escarpments. Here the meadows and forests have a wonderful parkland quality in mid-summer. But that seemingly manicured appeal disappears when fierce winter storms sweep over the area. The landscape around the railway can be austere when hit with snow, but eventually the winds subside and the sun comes out to reveal some of Europe’s finest cross-country skiing terrain.

Rail route of the month: on the slow line through forests and meadows in the Swiss Jura

The region is swept by snow storms in winter, turning the countryside into a snowy wonderland. Photograph: Dukas Presseagentur/Alamy

Jura radicalism

My interlocutor on the train displays typical Jura scepticism towards the Alps. “Why head for the big peaks where all the resorts are so crowded?” he asks, sensing I’m thinking these landscapes are seriously underrated.

But the appeal of the Jura is not just about scenery. The CJ rail routes, most particularly the main axis from Glovelier across to La Chaux-de-Fonds, really offer superb slow-travel experiences. It’s a chance to follow the warp and weft of the land and stop off at small communities along the way. Among my favourites are Pré-Petitjean and Le Bémont, both good for country walks.

The tame veneer of the Jura masks a fascinating social history. Lenin was taken with the radical ideas here

The tame veneer of Jura villages and towns masks a fascinating social history. These places have always punched above their weight in politics. Lenin and Kropotkin were taken with the radical ideas that underpinned life here. It is a region renowned for its watchmaking tradition. Not, you might think, a natural springboard for revolution, but the communitarian and anti-state instincts of the region’s watchmakers were important in shaping European anarchism. With that in mind, it’s easier to understand why the Jura really is a place apart and how the question jurassienne could have sparked such discord.

Rail route of the month: on the slow line through forests and meadows in the Swiss Jura

Musée international d’horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Photograph: Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH/Alamy

These are thoughts to ponder as we drop down towards La Chaux-de-Fonds, where the obvious first port of call is the Musée international d’horlogerie, an outstanding museum that plots the history of watchmaking.

Travel notes

Trains run hourly from Glovelier to La Chaux-de-Fonds. They are free with the Jura-Pass guest card, or from CHF25 (£23) one way (return fares are double). There is no advantage in booking in advance – just pay on the day. Interrail passes are valid. The author stayed at the Hôtel-Restaurant de la Gare in Glovelier, where the accent is on good regional food and watching the trains come and go (doubles from £126 B&B).

The 17th edition of Nicky Gardner’s book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide is available from the Guardian Bookshop. She is co-editor of Hidden Europe magazine

News Related


Allen ISD Board Votes in Favor of Controversial Boundary Changes, School Closures

NBCDFW.com The Allen ISD school board voted Monday night to approve a proposal for boundary changes that would close two elementary schools on the city’s east side. Up against a ... Read more »

Volcano Begins to Erupt in Eastern El Salvador, Prompting Ashfall Advisory

The eruption began Sunday when the volcano launched rock and ash to areas surrounding the crater. There were no reported injuries. Read more »

‘We the People’ at heart of White House holiday decorations

WASHINGTON —  “We the People” is Jill Biden’s holiday theme with White House decorations designed for “the people” to see themselves in the tree ornaments, mantel displays, mirrors and do-it-yourself creations ... Read more »

Wakanda Forever's Newly Released Concept Art Shows A Major Evolution In Key Character Designs

Marvel Studios “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” proved to be worth the hype. After the critical, commercial, and immeasurable cultural success of the first “Black Panther” movie, Marvel Studios had the ... Read more »

'Moral and appropriate': Museum begins return of artefacts looted by British troops

Ownership of all the items has been transferred to Nigerian officials, roughly 125 years after they were taken by force from Benin City. Read more »

Igor Shesterkin ashamed of his play in latest Rangers loss: ‘S–t game again’

The Rangers’ mistakes have been costly — exasperating even — given the fact that they aren’t getting the same otherworldly saves from Igor Shesterkin as they did a season ago. ... Read more »

Rundown on Tuesday’s non-USMNT World Cup matches

Here’s a look at Tuesday’s World Cup matches: Group A Ecuador vs. Senegal, 10 a.m., FS1 Both teams are still playing not just to make the knockout stage but to ... Read more »

Pinocchio Wasn't Guillermo Del Toro's First Stab At Stop-Motion

Jesse Grant/Getty Images Considering the amount of time it takes to film a stop-motion production, it’s very rare to see a director like live-action filmmaker Guillermo del Toro dip his ... Read more »

Kevin Spacey Books His First Role Following Lawsuit Win

Yannik Bikker/Shutterstock Kevin Spacey is arguably more known today for the numerous allegations against him than for his roles in hits like “Seven” and “The Usual Suspects.” Spacey was accused ... Read more »

This external cooler is as big as a PC

Does anyone have three 4090's they need to cool? Read more »

‘It's a Christmas Miracle,' Fort Worth Woman Reunited With Family 51 Years After Kidnapping

She was kidnapped by a babysitter at her parents' Fort Worth home in 1971 at just 22 months old at the time of her disappearance Read more »

Council vote set to bring Surrey, B.C. one step closer to scrapping municipal police force

Surrey, B.C., city council is set to hear from the head of the municipal RCMP detachment as it votes on directing staff to craft a final plan to keep the ... Read more »

What to Know About #GivingTuesday and How to Get Involved

Link video: http://nbclim-download.edgesuite.net/Prod/NBCU_LM_VMS_-_LocalX/647/862/5829964879-1080pnbcstations.mp4 NBC Universal, Inc. There’s a day for giving thanks, three days for cashing in on deals — and now there’s a day to give back. Giving Tuesday ... Read more »

Florida woman sues Kraft Heinz for $5M, saying mac-and-cheese takes too long to prep

An alleged cheesy bait-and-switch could cost Kraft Heinz $5 million, if one Florida woman gets her way. She is suing over its microwavable mac-and-cheese cups because, she says, the dish ... Read more »

Giants’ Azeez Ojulari could be set to return for Commanders game

Azeez Ojulari has been something of a forgotten man in the Giants’ 7-4 start, as he has been limited to two games by a series of leg injuries. But if ... Read more »

Shanghai Disneyland Shuts Down Just 4 Days After Reopening Due To China Covid Requirements

Shanghai Disneyland Shanghai Disneyland Shanghai Disneyland has again closed its gates, just four days after reopening them, in order to comply with “the requirement of pandemic prevention and control.” The ... Read more »

vivo Y02 release: 5000mAh battery, 6.51-inch LCD and Helio P22 SoC at ~RM430

vivo has recently released the vivo Y02, its latest entry-level smartphone for the global market, which is currently only available in Indonesia. The successor to the Y01 and the lower ... Read more »

Health ministry: Israeli fire kills Palestinian in West Bank

Health ministry: Israeli fire kills Palestinian in West Bank The Palestinian Health Ministry says a Palestinian was killed and 11 were wounded by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank ... Read more »

South Korea orders striking cement truckers back to work

South Korea orders striking cement truckers back to work South Korea’s government has ordered some of the thousands of truck drivers who have been on strike to return to work, ... Read more »

Here Are the Candidates Who Filed Petitions to Run for Chicago City Council in 2023

Link video: http://nbclim-download.edgesuite.net/Prod/NBCU_LM_VMS_-_WMAQ/877/487/19829367563-1080pnbcstations.mp4 Monday marked the final day that candidates were eligible to file nominating petitions for the 2023 Chicago municipal elections, and the races to determine the makeup the ... Read more »

Victoria Beckham's festive ensemble has to be her most surprising look to date

Victoria Beckham thrilled fans on Monday when she debuted a surprisingly striking outfit – and it has left us feeling particularly festive. SEE: Victoria and David Beckham’s London mansion is 1000x average ... Read more »

Is There A Connection Between Damien Chazelle's Babylon And Kenneth Anger's Infamous Hollywood Babylon?

DFree/Shutterstock A town with absolutely no qualms about looking at itself, warts and all, Hollywood becomes one of the characters at the heart of director-writer Damien Chazelle’s upcoming silent-movies-segue-to-talkies saga, ... Read more »

James Gunn Knows How Badly DC Fans Want To See Booster Gold

DFree/Shutterstock As if “Black Adam” premiering and changing the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe wasn’t enough, DC fans were treated to some intriguing behind-the-scenes news around the same ... Read more »

Why Dallas Considers Ban on Gas-Powered Lawn Equipment

Getty Images Using gasoline-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers and other landscaping equipment could soon be illegal in Dallas. Citing health, noise and environmental concerns, Dallas officials are developing plans to phase ... Read more »

Ex-warden of California federal women’s prison goes on trial for inmate abuse charges

OAKLAND —  The former warden of an abuse-plagued federal women’s prison known as the “rape club” went on trial Monday, accused of molesting inmates and forcing them to pose naked in ... Read more »

Mike Pence, Other Republicans Calls on Donald Trump to Apologize for Dinner With Antisemite Nick Fuentes

Trump has said he didn't know who Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist with a long history of espousing antisemitic and white nationalist views, was before the meeting. Read more »

Adam Sandler Cracks Up Gotham Awards With Guiding Principle Of His Long Career: “People In Prison Need Movies Too”

Adam Sandler Courtesy of Netflix Adam Sandler treated a delighted the Gotham Awards audience Monday night with a hefty stand-up session, thanking the org for a Performers Tribute after a long ... Read more »

Montreal non-profit pioneered use of ‘mpox’ before WHO official change

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced it recommends the use of mpox instead of monkeypox to refer to the virus. But long before the official modification, a Montreal community ... Read more »

5 cops hit with criminal charges after police-van incident left black man paralyzed

Five Connecticut cops were hit with criminal charges Monday for allegedly paralyzing a black man from the chest down during a ride in the back of a police van, authorities ... Read more »

Kanye West storms out of Tim Pool interview after pushback to his anti-Semitic claims

Kanye West stormed out of Tim Pool’s live podcast after receiving pushback for his anti-Semitic comments. Timcast IRL/YouTube Disgraced hip-hop star Kanye West stormed off the set of an interview ... Read more »

Lancia's New Concept Car Isn't Really a Car

I guess you could call it a sculpture? At least it's interesting. Read more »

Sources: Optimism Karl-Anthony Towns might have avoided substantial injury

Sources: Optimism Karl-Anthony Towns might have avoided substantial injury Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Karl-Anthony Towns will undergo an MRI on his right calf on Tuesday, but there is early optimism ... Read more »

What we know about the Virginia cop accused of killing the family of a girl he catfished

Riverside police allege that Austin Lee Edwards, 28 — a law enforcement officer from North Chesterfield, Va. — catfished a teenage girl online, came to her suburban Riverside neighborhood and ... Read more »

California’s depleted, drying Salton Sea to get $250 million in federal drought funding

SACRAMENTO —  The federal government said Monday it will spend $250 million over four years on environmental cleanup and restoration work around a drying Southern California lake that’s fed by the ... Read more »

Penticton, B.C. couple offers incentive in desperate search for a family doctor

In an act of desperation, a Penticton, B.C., couple has turned to social media to find medical care. Like many other British Columbians, Teresa Linklater and her husband, Michael, have ... Read more »

FCC listings for the Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+ reveal SD 8 Gen 2 SoC and 25W charging

If Samsung’s previous smartphone release cycle is anything to go by, its upcoming flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S23 series will launch in February 2023. Well, two of the devices within ... Read more »

The upcoming Epic Games Store's Christmas giveaway could begin in mid-December until next January

Yup, the Epic Games Store could possibly be releasing more free games for this upcoming Christmas season. As for now, it’s not official yet but the gaming platform would likely ... Read more »

Anwar Ibrahim cancels Mercedes-Benz S600 order, sticks with Toyota Camry for PM duties

Just three days after being sworn into office, Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim took to Twitter to announce that he has rejected a proposal by his office to utilise ... Read more »

Mets promote Eric Chavez to bench coach amid several changes to staff

The Mets are making a few big changes in the coaching staff, sources confirmed to The Post, notably promoting Eric Chavez to bench coach and Jeremy Barnes to hitting coach ... Read more »

Rangers blow another multi-goal lead in alarming loss to Devils

Devils fans showed up in numbers to Madison Square Garden on Monday night to see it. Their flourishing, Metropolitan-leading Devils marched into enemy territory, winners of 15 of their last ... Read more »
Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network