- Practical guide
At Chalain, the two Neolithic houses that were built in 1988 for experimental reasons were so successful with the public that a number of people wanted to visit the site.
Since the main priority has been to protect the archaeological zone against the wear and tear of summertime visitors, the site has no permanent visitors' center. Nevertheless, tours can be arranged in July and August through the Vallée de l'Ain Archaeological Research Center.
Built in 1988, the experimental house at Chalain collapsed in 2000.
Much remains to be done in order to properly present the Chalain and Clairvaux sites and their collections. Several objects from previous archaeological digs may be seen at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dole (Jura department). The Archaeological Museum at Lons-le-Saunier, in addition to its older collections, is the recipient of objects discovered during recent excavations. Until the new museum is built, visitors can see a magnificent Bronze Age pirogue uncovered at Chalain in 1904, as well as temporary exhibitions.
25, rue Richebourg 39000
Tel. : +33 3 84 47 12 13
The Chalain pirogue on display at the Archaeological Museum at Lons-le-Saunier. Late Bronze Age.
Display by J. Coras. Photo: © J.-L. Mathieu
The research center
The Vallée de l'Ain Archaeological Research Center organizes exhibitions and visits to Chalain during the months of July and August, as well as during the Heritage Days in September.
Please call the Archaeological Museum at Lons-le-Saunier at
+33 3 84 47 12 13 for a schedule of these visits.
Experimental archaeology at Chalain.
Viewing points and walkways
In order to protect them, the archaeological zones of Chalain and Clairvaux are off-limits to visitors. However, a series of natural high points as well as walkways along some of the less sensitive shores will give you a good idea of the general lakeshore atmosphere, as you wander between reed beds, peat bogs and a botanical reserve.
To learn more about the various archaeological sites at Chalain and Clairvaux: Exploring Chalain and Clairvaux.
Bronze and Iron Age tumuli
The Bronze and Iron Age tumuli zone is currently being registered with the French Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments. A good view of this large necropolis is possible from the pedestrian walkway. It consists of about 80 tombs, constructed between 1700 and 600 BCE. Note: the entire zone is private property.
Aerial view of the tumuli zone.
Geological sites of interest
On the road that links Chalain and Clairvaux (12 km), it is worth stopping off at Le Hérisson, a remarkable site located at the end of the principal pocket valley cut into the limestone plateau. The site's waterfalls are at their most spectacular during periods of high water: in the fall and when the snow melts.
After Doucier, the road to Clairvaux winds along the base of the limestone escarpments, and past the valley of La Combe d'Ain, with its characteristics buttes and nested glaciolacustrine terraces.
Leaving from Clairvaux, the La Frasnée Valley also offers some remarkable views of a Jurassic-era pocket valley nested in plateaus covered with fir trees.
Lake Chalain and the edge of the limestone plateau.