French Little Siberia

France travel guide

This portion of the Jura Massif between Chapelle des Bois and Malbuisson has been nicknamed Little Siberia for its winter temperature records. Winter and summer, its attractions are numerous.

The gendarmerie’s weather station recorded -41 ° C on a winter day 1985 in the village of Mouthe , considered since the coldest in France . Playing with this peculiarity, the Tourist Office distributes to visitors amusing degrees of resistance to the cold.

In January and February, snow is often present and you can practice cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and ice skating on the frozen lakes.
When the snow melts and the water warms up, it’s bathing, catamaran, sailing and fishing season.

Around Lake St. Point , one of the largest natural lakes in France, we see a small village, Port Titi , created in the 1930s by fishermen. The latter built huts where they came to spend the day; today they are cottages. Among other things, whitefish (known as féra on the other side of the border) are caught there and are very popular with the chefs.

In the summer, the alpine pastures offer an exceptional nature for the production of milk for the manufacture of a king cheese, the county . It is made from fruit , the first traces of which can be found in the 13th century. The peasants came up with the idea of ​​coming together to pool their milk and make larger cheeses that are kept for a long time. This form of meeting has been called a “fructerie” of the mountains, hence the name of the fruit tree used today. The farmers hired (and it’s still true!) A cheese maker who made the counties for them.

The company Marcel Petite, installed at Fort Saint Antoine , refines thousands of millstones.

“In the 1960s, when Marcel Petite discovered this old disused military building at 1100 meters above sea level, everyone called him mad, because it was unthinkable to put cheeses underground”

explains Claude Querry, current manager of the place. The counties coming out of the fort are considered to be among the best in the market . It takes at least 10 months to refine these pieces of 35 kilos and average 14 months. Some are tasted after more than three years of strong.

“An old cheese is not necessarily a good cheese, you have to take one wheel to its optimum, some reach it in another 14 months in twenty or more”

continues Claude Querry.

The region is also famous for its Mont d’Or , produced from mid-August to mid-March, and enclosed in spruce boxes that give them a woody flavor.
The wood was also used to smoke meats. Traditionally in a tuyé , a large chimney rising above the central part of the farms of Haut Doubs . There are still some manufacturers who use this spectacular method. If pork is used for morteau sausage, the tongue of smoked beef is an old specialty, now rare, of this middle mountain. Fir or spruce wood was used to slowly smoke cold. The omnipresence of wood has also allowed the development of a craft around toys known well beyond our borders.


The morbier
The morbier comes from the manufacture of a cheese from the milking of the morning and another of the milking of the evening. We put the morning cheese in a basket, we tapped it with ash collected on the ass of the copper cauldron to protect it and then placed the evening cheese on top. And so was born this cheese with its characteristic blue line.

© jeangill / iStock

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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