VTT sur le Plateau de RetordVTT sur le Plateau de Retord
©VTT sur le Plateau de Retord|Laurent Madelon

Multi day mountain bike rides in the Eastern part of France

The most famous multi day adventure on mountain bikes in France, the Grande Traversée du Jura is 415 km long from the North of Jura to Culoz at the foot of the Grand Colombier. The way is completely marked with signs and crosses many wild and varied landscapes in its north-south axis. A variant of 100 km exclusively in the Bugey is also marked from Culoz.

Grandes Traversées du Jura (GTJ) Mountain bike route from Mandeure to Culoz thorugh the Grand Colombier

The Grande Traversée du Jura stretches from Mandeure (Doubs) to Culoz (Ain) over more than 400 km. It takes between 6 and 9 days to complete the entire route depending on your level.
The last stage includes two different possibilities, you can reach Culoz from the Plateau de Retord via Le Grand Colombier or via the ridges of Plateau d’Hauteville.
The trail through Grand Colombier is said to be more physically challenging but offers a stunning panoramic view from the top of the Bugey’s highest mountain just before tackling a final descent of 1200 meters of negative elevation gain.

Grandes Traversées du Jura (GTJ) Mountain bike route from Mandeure to Culoz via La Praille

The Grande Traversée du Jura through the ridges of  Plateau d’Hauteville is a little longer but includes less elevation gain than the way through Grand Colombier.
While this route does not have the same stunning panoramic view from the Grand Colombier, it does allow you to discover some of the geological curiosities of the Valromey: Thurignin Gorges and the Source du Groin.
These exceptional places are particularly impressive in Spring and Autumn when their water levels are high.

GTJ mountain bike loop from Plateau de Retord to Grand Colombier

Southern loop of the Grande Traversée du Jura through Plateau de Retord and Grand Colombier.

With a length of nearly 100 km, this marked loop on the two southern possibilities of the GTJ allows you to discover the southern end of the Jura mountians in a few days.
From the banks of the Rhone at Culoz at 250 meters above sea level to the foot of the giant of the Bugey, the Grand Colombier, culminating at more than 1500 meters, passing through the plateaus of Retord and Hauteville the circuit go through varied landscapes and has many amazing points of view on the Alps, the Mont Blanc and the Bourget lake.

The other Grandes Traversées du Jura

Because the vast landscapes of the Jura Mountians cannot be traversed solely by mountain bike, the Grandes traversées du Jura can also be done on a road bike, on foot, horseback, snowshoeing, cross country skiing… and even soon gravel bike!


VTT sur le Plateau de RetordVTT sur le Plateau de Retord
©VTT sur le Plateau de Retord
  • Where to find my accommodation on the GTJ?

    -Whether it’s the GTJ by mountain bike or on foot, several accommodations offer overnight stays on a half-board basis along the routes: in Les Plans d’Hotonnes, Hôtel-restaurant Berthet, the Claie des Lys bed and breakfast, La Ferme des Bergonnes, the Chalet Jean Macé, or the Chalet d’Arvières just a few kilometers from Grand Colombier.
    A natural camping area is also accessible in Les Plans d’Hotonnes. At the arrival of the GTJ, the Colombier campsite in Culoz also has many sites and tents ready to camp.

  • Can I sleep anywhere in the woods?

    – It is not possible to sleep anywhere on the way, only the natural camping area in Les Plans d’Hotonnes and the Colombier campsite in Culoz are accessible for itinerants wishing to camp on Plateau de Retord and Grand Colombier.

  • Where can I sleep in Culoz?

    – The Colombier campsite in Culoz has many places for hikers and mountain bikers. Auberge de la Paillère, located a few kilometers farther from Culoz, is also a great place to end the adventure.

  • What is there to see in Culoz?

    – Culoz, the final point of the GTJ located at the foot of the Grand Colombier and bordered by the Rhone canal, is endowed with a rich cultural heritage.
    Among the things to see, on the route of the GTJ, the Castle of Montvéran (visits every Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the summer) the old aqueduct of Culoz, the Clos Poncet where the American writer Gertrude Stein stayed, the House of the Patrimony, and the church of Saint Martin.

  • How to organize the transport of luggage?

    The Roule ma Poule agency organises luggage transportation along the Grande Traversée du Jura route.

  • How to get back to the starting point after the adventure?

    There are several choices:

    • Taxi return: MG taxi and taxi Morland offer the possibility of driving you back.
    • Return by train: use the SNCF search module to find the quickest way to get back to your starting point.
    • Leave a car at both ends of the Grande Traversée, several parking lots are available near the Culoz train station.