A shorter day today, but our big challenge looms as we cross the Jura Mountains into Switzerland! We set off from Lons-le-Saunier and start climbing almost straightaway. This is the steepest hill we’ve experienced so far, so it’s important to pace yourself and not over-do it. The climb levels out after roughly 3km and we are suddenly in more mountainous scenery, with cow-bells clanging from the pastures around us. Following a flattish road – one of very few flat sections today! – through a beautiful valley surrounded by verdant wooded slopes, we reach the village of Orgelet with its pretty church, and then start to climb again gradually. Our road takes us through a scenic gorge and we cross the beautiful aquamarine Lac de Vouglans, a narrow sinuous reservoir hemmed in by the rocky cliffs around it. We climb for roughly 20km through lovely scenery; the gradient is not steep and there are some flatter sections. We then have a wonderful descent into the picturesque town of Saint-Claude; with its colourful buildings and its wonderful location tucked in between the mountains, this is worth a café-stop just to admire the views!
After Saint-Claude our climbing starts in earnest – we ascend gradually on hair-pin bends through trees, passing waterfalls and gushing streams. At some points the views open out so we can fully appreciate the mountain scenery we are climbing through. As we get higher up we reach pastures and the terrain levels out more; we pass a giant model of a bike which pays homage to the popularity of cycling in this region: this climb has featured in the Tour de France on many occasions, as well as other professional races. Shortly after this, the road plunges downhill into a secluded valley. It’s frustrating to lose even a fraction of our well-earned elevation knowing we have to re-gain it, but it’s a wonderful descent and very beautiful!
From the valley we start to climb again, on hair-pin bends that take us once more through forest. These are our last miles uphill, and although it is steep in places we know the end is in sight! We finally reach the Col de la Faucille (1323m), and gather for a group photo before our big descent. We have time to savour this – we should be feeling justly proud of ourselves for reaching the summit. In clear weather we should get great views of the Mont Blanc massif, and there are wonderful views over Lake Geneva as we descend the 12km to Gex, the small Swiss village at the foot of the mountain. We pass through the international border with Switzerland, and cruise on flat roads with cycle lanes to our lakeside finish point in Geneva. This evening we enjoy a great celebration! Night hotel.
Cycle approx 110km (70 miles)