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Lac de Joux and the Caves of Vallorbe

A study tour of the local hydrology

Tobias leads another brilliant outing for Ramsar Convention staff and friends, this time over the Jura ridge from Lake Geneva and down to the Vallée de Joux, 5 May 2013.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

After a thwarted look-in at the limestone, karst formations up near the Col du Marchairuz (still too much snow), we're passing an old sawmill on the river Lionne, which springs out of the mountains and babbles merrily for about 200 metres, where it runs out into the Lac de Joux.

The Source of the Lionne


The entire Jura is porous, and the water has been cascading and seeping down through the rocks from the snowmelt around Mont Tendre.

Up the hill a ways to get a better vantage

The Lac de Joux through the trees, and the village of L'Abbaye

An overflow valve

Now up the other end of the Lac de Joux, the Tête du Lac, where the Orbe river meanders in from Les Rousses in France to the southwest -- Tobias provides the interpretation.

The river Orbe reaching the Lac de Joux, Mont Tendre up to the right, and the Dent de Vaulion shrouded in cloud at the far end of the lake

A birdwatchers' paradise

Looking across the river and marsh towards Chez le Poisson, where the fish lives

Back into the little forest for a lakeshore walk to Le Rocheray on the northwest side of the lake

For lunch

A Lawn Roomba

The entrance to the Grottes de Vallorbe, a well-known tourist attaction

At its northeastern end the Lac de Joux, and its little friend Lac Brenet, near the village of Le Pont ("the bridge") at 1000 metres altitude, the Orbe disappears into the ground, and three km farther on, and about 220 metres lower down, it pops out here. (It carries on through the towns of Vallorbe and . . . (ta da!) Orbe, and empties into the Lac de Neuchâtel.)

Suitably warmly dressed, and tickets in hand

Charging up the stair to see the good stuff

Luckily, the management has been generous with the lighting.

Of course, most of the interesting features have got cute names attached, like "the Bridal Veil" and "the Spider Web", doubtless not well known to the crazy speleologues who discovered and explored the place half a century ago.

Captivating views

Kristin awaiting stragglers

Some of it is a little disgusting.

Probably called "the Huge Jellyfish"

A long descent back towards the entrance

Crossing a cavern near its roof, with the mighty Orbe pounding through 40 or 50 metres below . . .

. . . with signs along the far wall showing the high water marks of recent years. Very unsettling.

We're safely out . . .

. . . for the group photo.

And another, in the vintage style.

Earlier visits to the Grottes de Vallorbe

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 4 October 2013.

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