I spent last weekend in a region of France where the air is fresh and clean, the mountains are covered in pristine white snow and cosy chalets await your return after a heady day of winter sports. The trees are tall and stretch straight up to the sky like dark green arrows, appearing to have taken on some Swiss discipline from their neighbours just over the border. Local specialities include unique wines, charcuterie and melted cheese dishes. It's beautiful, welcoming and totally inexpensive ... and there's nobody there.
In another part of the world, the Jura mountains would probably be a hot tourist destination, or at least a common place for domestic travellers to spend a relaxing weekend, but positioned next to the stunning glory of the Alps, they seem to get forgotten. Which is all part of their charm.
Admittedly, thrill-seekers could be disappointed here. The slopes are gradual, and most of the downhill ski pistes are gentle blues and greens. For cross-country skiing and snowshoe walking, however, it's perfect. We hired raquettes at the ski station at Les Fourgs and walked everywhere: in deep snow you can literally go where you like, including over fences, tree tops and, if you go in the right direction, the Swiss border. In the evening, we had baked Mont D'Or cheese with charcuterie and potatoes, washed down with local Arbois wine. The Jura may not have world-famous peaks or daredevil ski pistes, but if you want a breath of fresh air far from the crowds, it's absolutely perfect.