Cirque de Consolation

Useful Information

Location: 25390 Consolation-Maisonnettes.
(47.157456, 6.604846)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave KarstKarst Spring
Light: bring torch.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Cirque de Consolation.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Cirque de Consolation (Consolation Circus) is actually a sort of karst wonderland. We had problems to classify the site, first we thought it was a spring, then we thought a series of springs, later, when we learned more about the site, we guessed it was a karst geotope. So that's where we are now, it is karst, showing numerous aspects in numerous ways.

But first about the name. A Cirque is a rather typical valley forming a sort of natural amphitheatre at its end. The term is quite commonly used in France, in the Jura as well as in the Pyrénées at the border to Spain. And Consolation is actually the name of the Monastere Val de Consolation (Monastery in the Valley of Consolation) at the end of the valley. It was built where two ends of the valley meet. If you are there, a visit to the church is worthwhile.

The end of the valley with its numerous spectacular springs is the source of the Dessoubre river, which forms a deep valley and is a tributary of the Doubs river. That's a no-brainer, actually, any river in the Jura is a tributary of the Doubs. The confluence is in Saint-Hippolyte, and it's hard to decide which river is the bigger one. The Doubs is bigger, but only marginally. From the confluence the D39 follows the Dessoubre river for 36 km to the monastery Consolation.

If you park your car at the monastery, there are actually two ways where you may go. The valley to the right leads to the Source du Dessoubre, the official spring of the river.

The valley to the left leads to the Cascade du Lançot. At the far end there are actually two big cave springs, called Source du Lançot and Source du Tabourot, where water emerges from a cave entrance in the middle of a cliff face. The water immediately falls down a waterfall, flows in rapids down a steep slope of debris, and then the two rivers meet to form the Lançot river. That's the reason why this site is also known as Cascade du Lançot (Lançot Waterfall). Only 400 m downstream is the Ruisseau du Val Noir tributary from the left, which is already 2.5 km long at this point. That's quite weird, as it actually flows in a less deep valley and crosses the nearby Source du Dessoubre And another tributary on the right side is fed by the Source Noire (Black Spring ) at the end of a small but steep side valley.

Both are quite similar, the water springs from various caves in the limestone walls of the valley. Several of them form a cascade where they fall over an edge to the bottom of the valley, meet and form a river, which then runs downhill in a multitude of cascades and rapids, until it finally reaches the monastery. The water is either white from the foam, or deep blue from the limestone it contains, at least if the sun shines. The site is quite nice all year, but if you are interested in karst and want to see the numerous springs and waterfalls, or take pictures of them, we recommend late autumn, after the leaves have fallen and the view is not blocked by them anymore.