Sunday, 25 July 2010

Day hike: Col du Marchairuz - Saint-Cergue

The Jura mountains straggle north-eastwards from close to Geneva and for large sections act as the border between Switzerland and France. The 'Chemins des CrĂȘtes du Jura' runs along its spine from Dielsdorf to Nyon, a total of 310 kms divided into 15 stages, this day hike is one of these stages.

We took the morning bus from Nyon to the Col (it runs twice a day during the summer months - check the Swiss railways for timings) and after a leisurely coffee at the hotel set off along a dew covered forest track.

The Juras are an old limestonne mountain range which in this part is protected within Jura Natural Park. It is a living landscape used by villages on the lower slopes of the mountains using it as summer pastures for their cattle. Yes, we heard the cow bells clanking throughout our hike

Approaching the high point of the hike - CrĂȘte de la Neuve from which you can see Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), Geneva's Jet d'Eau, the Alps with Mont-Blanc massif right in front of you - unfortunately not today!

A characteristics of the Juras are the forests of coniferous trees, interspersed with herb-filled meadows, and low dry stone walls denoting ownership of the different pastures.

The hike takes about 4.5 hours, without any stops, but with so many places to dawdle and some great view points it would be silly to do it as a sprint. At the Saint-Cergue end there are hourly trains down to Nyon (you can find the timetable here).

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