Loue river valley, France: travel and tourism, attractions and sights

Photo of Loue River valley

The Loue river valley runs through the Franche-Comte region of eastern France to the south-east of Besancon. After emerging dramatically from the bottom of a cliff near Ouhans the river flows for about 130 kilometres through the attractive countryside of hills and valleys of the region.

The Loue river is actually a part of the Doubs river that passes underground before re-emerging at Ounans. This source was discovered only when there was a fire at the pernod factory on the Doubs in the early 20th century - and a few days later absinthe was found in the Loue!

Exploring the Loue valley

It is the part of the Loue valley between the Ouhans and Ornans that is most popular with visitors, a distance of around 20 kilometres where the river is fast moving and loses more than 200 metres in altitude. The river has carved deep gorges through limestone rock, and passes several interesting towns and villages en route.

Source of the Loue river at Ounans

The river flow roughly east to west, from Mouthier-Haute-Pierre and Ouhans (just north of Pontarlier) to its confluence with the Doubs river just south of Dole. There is a pleasant walk that descends the valley from the source of the river.

Particularly notable along the course of the Loue are the 'Gorges de la Loue' - a canyon carved by millions of years of erosion by the river.

The pretty towns of Ornans and Lods are among those that are on the banks of the Loue River, while other villages you will come across in the valley are Vuillafans (with a picturesque 15th century bridge) and Montgeysoye (13th century church) and Ouhans, Scey-en-Veray and Cleron Castle.

You can see more villages high on the cliffs above the valley, offering magnificent panoramas of the valley.

The Loue valley is now a popular tourist destination, especially for canoeing (the best way to enjoy the scenery), and is also said to be one of the best rivers in France for fly-fishing.

Gustave Courbet in the Loue valley

The renowned 19th century realist painter Gustave Courbet painted several paintings in the Loue Valley, and the sites where these were painted can be visited by following the 'Sentiers de Courbet'. The best known of these is the 'Ruisseau du Puits Noir', and any tourist office along the route can give you a complete list and map of the seven locations.

Franche-Comte: Loue River valley

Chateau de Cleron (Doubs)

Chateau de Cleron village

The gardens of the Chateau de Cleron can be seen next to the Loue River in the village of Cleron in Doubs

See Chateau de Cleron guide

Lods (Doubs)

Lods village

Lods is quite small but very pleasant to explore, in particular the village along the waterfalls on the Loue river

See Lods guide

Mouthier-Haute-Pierre (Doubs)

Mouthier-Haute-Pierre village

The small village of Mouthier-Haute-Pierre is well placed to explore the source of the Loue river and several other scenic highlights in Doubs

See Mouthier-Haute-Pierre guide

Ornans (Doubs)

Ornans village

The highlight of your visit to Ornans is the section along the Loue river, crossed by old stone bridges and with lovely houses on the riverside

See Ornans guide

Pontarlier (Doubs)

Pontarlier village

Pontarlier is usually visited as part of a trip to enjoy the local scenery and outddor activities, and has several monuments of note

See Pontarlier guide

Map of principal villages in the Loue valley