Ice-skating on the River Doubs


Category:
Social practices
  • Knowledge concerning nature
Canton:

Description

From time to time in deepest winter the River Doubs, which is the natural boundary between the Swiss and French Jura mountain ranges, is transformed into one long frozen skating track. It may pale in comparison to the large lakes nearby, nonetheless the River Doubs is the largest natural ice-skating rink in Europe The length of the “season” depends on the weather, but generally is as short as one day or as long as 40 days. However, these times are unofficial as the local authorities do not to assume liability for any accidents that may occur. Ultimately ice-skating on the River Doubs is an entirely impromptu and self-managed pursuit. To test the quality of the ice, a family from the village of Les Brenets deploys an age-old technique. When the other villagers see this family tying their skates, they know that it is safe to venture on to the frozen river. Other ice-skating enthusiasts from other parts of Switzerland and even from France quickly follow suit. It is not uncommon for the river to have to bear the weight of hundreds of people. Turned into a frozen mirror, the Doubs snakes it way through the forest and past a series of grottos along the way. From Saut-du-Doubs to Chaillexon, it becomes a giant outdoor playground and is an integral part of the local identity.

Image gallery

  • A peddler selling his wares to skaters (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • Skating on the River Doubs (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • Ice-hockey players (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • Peddlers setting up shop on the frozen Doubs (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • Surrounding landscape and skaters (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • A peddler selling his wares to skaters (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • Skating on the River Doubs (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • Ice-hockey players (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • Peddlers setting up shop on the frozen Doubs (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond
  • Surrounding landscape and skaters (1930-1950) © Fernand Perret/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fond

References and documentation

Publications
  • Dame météo préfère le vert. In : L’Impartial. La Chaux-de-Fonds, 29 décembre 2006

  • Le Doups, sans glisse. In : L’Impartial. La Chaux-de-Fonds, 31 décembre 2005

  • Le Haut-Jura neuchâtelois s’offre généreusement aux joies saines et ensoleillées du tourisme de famille. In : L’Impartial. La Chaux-de-Fonds, 29 décembre 1975

Documentation