Our goal: The summit of “Le Grand Colombier”!
“Hiking is an outdoor activity carried out on foot along a marked or unmarked route.”
For me, it will be marked, because I’m bad with direction! And that’s what I miss when I visit other countries. In France, it’s super easy to go hiking. You can find routes everywhere, open to all and free of charge. In many other countries I have crossed, the only accessible trails are those in national parks that are paid for. And impossible to find free hikes to do.
I will take advantage of my stay in my region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to catch up. As I have always lived at the foot of the northern Alps, I was spoiled with options to hike. However, I’ve never gone to explore the Jura mountains further, and when I say further it’s at least 70 km! 😁But I’m going to fix this!
The “Grand Colombier” is a mountain located at the southern end of the Jura massif. It is in the Ain department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
It peaks at 1515m altitude.
There are different options for climbing it, more or less difficult. We chose the scenic walk, “The Cross of the Grand Colombier by the ridges” which offers a breathtaking view of the surroundings, while remaining quite easy.
Walking time about 4 hours for a distance of 12 km and 400m of positive ascent. And no difficult passage 😁
The starting point of the Grand Colombier
The start is from Sur Lyand, a small Nordic ski resort. You have to park in the parking lot of the station which is easy to find. There is only one and it is at the entrance of the station.
The trail starts behind the restaurant. Reach it by going around the building from the right.
At the first intersection, take a southerly left. And keep that course throughout the hike 😊
After a small part in the forest, we reach the plateau and climb quietly through the Combe Giret.
And it’s a real pleasure. The walk is gentle, the nature is green, the sun shines, and cows graze quietly in pastures.
It really is a moment of pure happiness. 🤩
But let’s not get lost. Just before arriving at the Platières, keep well on course. The main trail which we’ve been following so far descends on our left, and even if we are tempted to take it, we must stay on the plateau and take a grass path to the right.
Well of course we took the wrong path, and as we started to go down a little too much, we turned back to start again in the right direction!
And the walk continues to the Col de Charbemène which we pass to arrive at the Cross of the Grand Colombier.
The views are superb, and you really have to take your time and savor it.
The arrival at the cross of the Grand Colombier
The chaotic history of this cross
- September 1891: The first wooden cross is inaugurated. It is the pride of the inhabitants of Valromey and becomes a place of excursion and gathering.
- January 1914: The cross is destroyed, victim of vandalism. It was only after the war that a public fundraising was launched for the construction of a 16-meter-high metal cross.
- May 1920: The construction begins. It will take six trips to transport all the material to the top of the Grand Colombier.
- September 1920: The new cross is blessed.
- 1923: Victim of a storm, it collapses again. It will then be repaired and put back on its pedestal.
- December 1966: A violent snowstorm destroys it. The municipality then set out to find funding for reconstruction, and it was the tire manufacturer “Firestone” that would respond positively.
- August 1968: Finally a new five-ton cross secured sits atop the Grand Colombier.
It is also the center of a police plot in the crime novel “The Blue Peril”, written in 1920 by Maurice Renard. 😃
It’s time for a well-deserved picnic break in front of the magnificent view of the Jura on one side and the Alps on the other. On a very clear day, you can even see the Mont Blanc 😁
We reach the D 120 road about a hundred meters from the cross and take right to reach a path towards the Granges du Colombier.
We then have to head northeast towards the Col de Charbemène, and then north.
Anyway, there is only one path, very easy to follow.
And it’s again great views and a gentle descent.
The hike in pictures
We walked the ridge path to the Devil’s Claw and then crossed the pastures slightly to our right to head for the Famban Cross. But before reaching the cross, turn right toward Sur-Lyand.
We’re back. We stop at the bar to enjoy a fresh and well-deserved beer. And it is with this little pleasure that our expedition will end.
A very pleasant hike, which offers breathtaking views. A 360-degree panorama, with on one side the high and steep mountains of the Alps, and on the other the round and gentle mountains of the Jura. A must-do if you’re around. 😃
If you don’t have too much time you can drive to the Col du Colombier. The parking lot is next to the cross. This pass is very famous in the cycling world because it is well-known for its difficulty and has been a stage of several tours of France.