The small round around the Juraberg Chasseral also goes at the end of the day. If you visit one or the other Métairie, you will need the whole Sunday.
In the Jura mountains are not only lower than in the Alps, they also look different. Mostly they consist of sharp-edged limestone ridges, which have their highest point somewhere. It helps the searching eye if man helps, like on the Chasseral. Here stands a transmission tower, which signals as 114 m high index finger: This here is the Chasseral, the highest elevation in the..., no, not in the whole Jura, only in the Bernese Jura. From the Bernese Mittelland, you can see it in the distance, and those who take a course on the TCS Lignières site curve around at their feet, so to speak. The Chasseral, situated between Biel, Neuchâtel and La Chaux-de-Fonds, is also a good place to take a turn.
1200 m difference in altitude
On a Chasseral tour you can expect significant differences in altitude. You just stretch your toes into the cooling water of Lake Biel, then roll through the sunny vineyards near Twann and through the gorge of the same name up to the Tessenberg, and the temperature drops. Lignières, known for Switzerland's only "race track" (correct: driving training centre of TCS Training & Events), is already in a different climate zone than the lakes below. Then the road winds first through the light forest, then through the pastures on the south side of the Chasseral, which is usually snow-free only in July. And there, on the restaurant parking lot, a cool wind whistles almost guaranteed around your ears. The heated cyclists usually have to install three layers of textile for the descent, for motorcyclists it's enough to close the top jacket button. After all, it is essential to pause for a moment and absorb the view. At the foot of the Tessenberg, further down Bielersee, Murtensee and Neuenburgersee, on the horizon the snow-covered peaks of the Bernese Alps - if you catch a day with good views...
Refreshments in the alpine economy
Almost always a strong breeze blows up here, but the ridge of the Chasseral is free of windmills. 13 or 14 of them have been planted a mountain ridge "further back", between Mont Soleil and Mont Crosin. One floor below, I head for one of the numerous Métairies. The approach to the Bergerie du Bas on the Mont Sujet (turnoff in Lamboing) is shaky: the path is deeply gravelled, the 17-inch front wheel of the Tourtöff rides an unsafe course. Then up there is a beautiful panorama, alpine meadows, country music from loudspeakers and a thin cup of coffee. You think you're on an alp in central Switzerland, but here you're parrying French, comfortable and stretched, we're finally in the canton of Berne.
Later I try the Métairie du Milieu de Bienne. The turnoff is in the valley of St-Imier, in Cortébert. In the middle of a wonderful alpine pasture (Wytweide) with individual trees, I gormandize a piece of rhubarb tart. If the house dishes like Hamme or Fondue also taste so excellent, I have to come back. Still this summer, or later on a snowshoe tour. Open all year round.
Text & Photos: Daniel Riesen