I’ve written about this region before and probably will again because it’s one of my favourites. From our small village on Lac Leman, where the occasional palm tree grows, we rarely see snow but we can get a serious hit of winter in just over an hour in the nearby Jura. This geographic area is shared by France and Switzerland and was created in the Jurassic age by seismic shifts in the ocean. Over the millennia a dramatic series of geologic folds formed resulting in lonely wind-swept plateaus supported by jaw-dropping cliffs and lovely bucolic river valleys punctuated by a series of small lakes. The region is populated by contented cows, enormous farmhouses and a scattering of quaint villages.
The Jura is a little visited region even by the French. But it has so much to offer the traveller who seeks to get off the well worn tourist-trail. Some of France’s most interesting and distinctive wines come from Arbois, delicious cheese is produced (Comté and Mont D’Or to name just two) and there is a paradise of hiking and cross-country ski trails. Morteau and Montbeliard are the best smoked sausage I have ever eaten (and that’s saying something). There is delicious trout from mountain streams and lakes and there is even an absinthe trail for those who are exceptionally brave. The landscape is pristine, untouched by industry or unsightly tourist developments.
Imagine setting out on a snow-covered trail on a cold and grey winter morning. After walking for a couple of hours without bumping into a soul you start to feel a little peckish. Its time to turn around. Then in the distance you spot some smoke curling out of a chimney and as you round a bend you spot one of the many farmhouse restaurants in the region. Peeking inside you see the place is packed. Where on earth did these people come from?
At the bar the owner asks us if we have a reservation. He is dead serious. We don’t, and we really are famished now. He frowns in the way only a Frenchman can as we prepare ourselves to leave. Then he breaks into a friendly grin. He has remembered us (we usually have made a reservation) and shows us to the only free table in the place. On a weekday. At lunch. Go figure, but it happens every single time.
In my previous post you can read more about La Boissaude,and get the recipe for their local specialty, la boîte chaude. But the menu also boasts many other local dishes designed to appease even the most ravenous mountain appetite.