Friday, 3 May 2013


Cowslips were everywhere as we left the Rhine and cycled into the Jura region. These beautiful little yellow flowers are an excellent sign of healthy soils. They were beside our road as we climbed through Gorge du Pichoux. The gorge, small by Swiss standards, towered above us and a little river flowed swiftly the opposite way.  My lights were needed to pass through a couple of tunnels.

Reaching the top we discovered a vast area of open grassland with giant Alpine firs spread haphazardly everywhere. This is cattle and horse country. The cows are Friesian Hosteins producing copious amounts of milk while the horses await their summer holiday visitors still to arrive. The remains of snow drifts could still be seen as we climbed.

At higher levels marsh buttercups, wild daffodils, crocus and other wild flowers carpetted the meadows. My first cuckoo was heard. We stopped for lunch at Bellelay, a town that makes cheese the old way, in Hotel de l'Ours. This translates as Hotel of the Bear. At the farms the cows were still indoors as the grass had not grown enough to let them out. Later two excited children welcomed us as we stopped at a wayside cafe. There are few people here and I suspect the children regarded as novelties. Anyhow they very nervously came up to talk to us gently encouraged by their mother.

The farm houses have the barns attached to the house so cattle, horses and people share the same building. Yet despite their obvious ages, many farms had modern John Deere tractors working in their fields. Our overnight stop is at La Chaux de Fonds.

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