Get away from it all by hitting the mountain bike trails of Franche-Comté. Amie Marsh checked out Metabief in the Jura Mountains.
The Jura Mountains of the Franche-Comté region are home to some great wine, great villages and great cycling.
I spent the weekend in Metabief doing some sight seeing and riding the trails accessible by chair lift. The bike park has a variety of trails, including freeride, downhill, enduro, as well as an abundance of XC riding throughout the region. There is also a mini drop zone and a great little pump track at the bottom of the hill.
Despite not being that high a resort, the freeride and enduro trails are excellent, winding through the trees down the mountain. Rocky, rooty, technical and fun. There are two red graded runs and a black graded run. Both are challenging, thoroughly enjoyable and not too short.
The Enduro trail follows the line of the blue graded ‘in the woods’ downhill trail. Another fun track with a varied terrain and a little pedalling.
There are three decent VTT trails to choose from. Le familiale ‘green’ run joins into the ‘in the woods’ blue run, which are both ideal family trails. Nothing steep but a few rocks and tree roots to keep things exciting. The ’Permanente’ red graded downhill trail is also very suitable for beginners; again, not a steep track but with some technical rocky sections to try and tackle with some speed. This track was home to the Downhill World Championships in 1993 but has not been upgraded since. The technology of downhill bikes has moved on a great deal since '93, making what was once a world class track a fairly easy ride; it's a great learner track.
Despite the bike park being very small, the facilities at the bottom of the hill are very good. There is a big bike wash, which is free, and a bike shop where you can hire enduro style bikes which are perfectly suited to the tracks on offer.
The Franche-Comté region makes a fantastic stop for a XC, road and cycle touring (the Eurovélo 6 route follows the Doubs river). I spent sunday having a cruise around the nearby villages before heading home. The scenery is wonderful in this typically picturesque French countryside.
Cycling in Franche-Comté and the Jura Mountains
The Franche-Comté regional website is an excellent resource, and includes information on the Great Jura Trail. See also the Jura site. Anyone interested in crossing the Jura Mountains by bike should also see the Association Grandes Traversées du Jura website.
The local Metabief tourism website (in French only) has links to mountain bike information booklet which is also available at local tourist officies.
For general tourist information, Michelin has a French language guide to Franche-Comté, while their Green Guide concentrates on Burgundy and Jura and a local map covers the Doubs and Jura areas. IGN has a selection of maps covering the Jura Mountains.
For bike hire, see our cycle hire listings.
Where to eat
One of the must-do stops in the area is the restaurant L’Auberge du Coude. Situated on the lake, the cuisine here is simply amazing. Offering a menu of local food and wines, with great service and a touch of elegance without being stuffy, this should certainly be on your night out agenda.
Where to stay
Check here for links to accommodation all over France, including hotels, gîtes, gîtes d’étapes, B&Bs, self-catered and campsite options.
Getting to Franche-Comté and the Jura Mountains
Besançon is the main city and a good access point. There are trains to Besançon from all over France, with links to Paris (and Charles de Gaulle Airport) and Lyon, and good links from Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Germany. See voyages-sncf.com train times and ticket prices. See also our information on taking bikes on French trains.
See Amie's article on getting into downhill MTB in France, her overview of mountain biking in Morzine and our MTB blog.
Amie Marsh is the founder of Dirty Girls Ride, a Morzine-based MTB group for women.