Pontarlier, Doubs: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Pontarlier in Loue River valley (Franche-Comte region)

Visit Pontarlier (Franche-Comte, France)

Pontarlier is found to the east of Franche-Comté, close to the border with Switzerland and on the edge of the Jura mountain range, at an altitude of 837 metres above sea level. The history of the town revolves around its position on the important trade route between Besancon and Switzerland / Italy.

Exploring Pontarlier

France This Way comment: although none of the individual monuments in the town are perhaps remarkable, there are a few interesting highlights in Pontarlier which makes for a pleasant visit, and explains why the town is officially listed as a 'recommended detour'.

The Triumphal Arch (the Porte Saint-Pierre) is the best known of these. It is a grand stone arch-entrance dating from the 18th century that was converted into a belfry in the 19th century - you won't miss it, it dominates the entrance to the town. The arch was built to commemorate France seizing the territory in the 17th century.

The town also has a municipal museum to explain the history of the region (and absinthe production).

You will also see the doorway to the 19th century Chapel de l'Esperance with its corinthian columns and carved wooden door, and the Church of Saint-Benigne - be sure to take a look at the modern stained glass windows in the church. Other noteworthy buildings in the town include the College Philipe Grenier and the Town Hall.

The Joux Castle that stands high above the town dates from the 12th century (with many later modifications over the following centuries until the 17th century and the work of Vauban). As a result it is now a very extensive castle with several different rings of fortifications. The castle also has very far reaching views across the valley below and contains a museum of ancient armaments (open summer only). See Chateau de Joux.

Note: the town of Pontarlier was once an important absinthe producing centre. This ceased when the drink was banned from 1915 but following the repeal of the ban, absinthe is once again produced here. In fact there is now even a tourist route called the Route de l'Absinthe between Pontarlier and Val-de-Travers (in Switzerland).

Attractions nearby

The surrounding region is popular with hikers, cyclists, kayaks and other outdoor pursuits. The town also has access to various ski-resorts in the Jura if you are visiting during the winter months.

The Chateau de Cleron is in a picturesque setting on the Loue river near Pontarlier.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Doubs guide and the Franche-Comte guide.

See also:

Map of Pontarlier and places nearby

Visit near Pontarlier with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Doubs

Tourist classifications for Pontarlier

Pontarlier is classified as a recommended detour town (plus beau detour)

Address: Pontarlier, Franche-Comte, 25300, France || GPS: latitude 46.9067, longitude 6.35556

Plan your visit to Pontarlier, Doubs

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Défilé d'Entre-Roches: site of natural beauty (13 km)
  • Lods: most beautiful village (17 km)
  • Gorges de Remonot: site of natural beauty (22 km)
  • Forêt de la Joux: site of natural beauty (28 km)
  • Gouffre de Poudrey: site of natural beauty (28 km)
  • Gorges du Doubs: site of natural beauty (33 km)
  • Saut du Doubs: site of natural beauty (33 km)

Market days in Pontarlier, France

Regular market(s) are held in Pontarlier each Thursday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Pontarlier (Francais)