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Switzerland's Lac de Joux is located high up in the Jura Mountains in the Canton of Vaud. Located at an altitude of nearly 3300 feet, Lac du Joux is ideally suited for a mountain holiday. Lying near the high ridge that designates the border with France, Lac de Joux is ideally suited for both mountain and water sports. Only 30 miles from the city of Lausanne, a trip to Lac de Joux is a valued weekend break from work in the canton's capital city.
Visitors come to Lac de Joux to sail, yacht, windsurf, row, water ski and wakeboard. The wind conditions around the lake are particularly appreciated by windsurfers. Only a few small villages dot the shoreline, but a great many private cottages and homes overlook the beautiful lake. Much of the shoreline is wooded, adding a natural alpine atmosphere against the backdrop of the Jura Mountains. Several natural sandy beaches draw swimmers and sun bathers. A sailing school teaches the art of sailing during the summer months. In winter, Lac de Joux turns into a huge ice skating arena. Walking and cycling paths are numerous in the vicinity, and bicycles and boats can be rented to enhance the holiday-maker's enjoyment. Lake levels vary according to precipitation.
Less of a tourist attraction than many of the better-known Swiss lakes, Lac de Joux still attracts thousands of visitors every summer. Many come to canoe the shallows, fly-fish for trout and otherwise enjoy the green canopy of the Jura Mountains. In winter, skating, downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding and snowshoeing draw visitors to the nearby slopes. The entire Vallee de Joux contains many miles of cross-country skiing trails. Excursions for winter snowshoe camping and dog sled tours can be arranged. Anglers enjoy fishing for whitefish, perch, pike, carp, tench, dace, chub, varro, roach and burbot in the lake. Day fishing permits can be obtained at Le Pont. Hot air ballooning tours over the lake can be arranged, and hiking on the many forest trails offers views of conifer forests, stands of hardwood and birch and the occasionally surprising alpine meadow. A golf course is nearby. Boat tours are available from the sole shipping company on the lake. The boat, leaving from Le Pont, makes a round trip every day in July and August, with weekend-only service in June and September. Passenger train service runs along the north side of the lake with many scheduled stops.
There are few hotels and resorts on Lac de Joux' shoreline, but a variety of guest houses, chateaus, holiday houses and guest inns assure that vacation rentals are always available. There are some limited camping grounds near the shore, and access to the water is always possible at the public beaches at Le Pont and L'Abbaye. Lac de Joux is not a location with a lot of nightlife; more popular are visits to such attractions as the Watch Museum. Vallee de Joux is a watch-making center, and a small museum in Le Sentier near the west end of the lake offers an interesting look at the history of one of Switzerland's best-known products. The Mont d'Orzeires Juraparc, a short distance from the east end of the lake, offers viewing of bison, wolves, bears, lynx and other wild animals in a semi-natural habitat. Near the Juraparc, the town of Vallorbe holds Vallorbe Forge. The forge and smithy offer visitors the chance to forge their own commemorative medal. The forge also houses the Iron and Railway Museum.
Lac de Joux has one main water source: the Orbe River. Originating in France, the Orbe meanders through the Jura Mountains to Lac de Joux - and disappears. There is no visible outlet to Lac de Joux or its two small companion lakes, Lac Brenet and Lac Ter. Excess water from all three lakes seeps through the lakebed to form an underground river that surfaces a few miles away. In 1961, the entrance to the underground watercourse was discovered. Open to the public since 1974, visitors can tour a series of underground caverns. The underground river course includes waterfalls, siphons, vast halls with surprising shapes, stalactites and stalagmites. The Fairy Treasure Trove section of the two-mile long cavern trail contains a collection of 250 minerals. The river erupts above ground near Vallorbe and continues east to join Lake Neuchatel where it becomes the River Thielle.
If visiting Lausanne, Lac de Joux makes an excellent weekend side trip. For skiing in the Jura, a ski chalet or chateau the Vallee de Joux makes a great home base. Holiday rentals are numerous; real estate for purchase less so. No visit to the great lakes of Switzerland would be complete without a visit to Lac de Joux. Imagine watching the sun come up over the peaks of the Jura and painting the water with streaks of pink and gold. Nowhere can you feel more a part of nature than Lac de Joux.
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