The village of Réclère is home to a cave, which is an amazing natural site in Switzerland. Réclère is a quiet village west of Porrentruy, on the border with Ajoie. To the south of Réclère is France. Réclère is just a short walk away from French soil, so you can easily reach it from there.
When you’re around this side of Switzerland, check out the Caves of Réclère (Grottes de Réclère in French) and see Switzerland’s largest stalagmite. Read on below to learn more about the Caves of Réclère in Switzerland.
Overview: Caves of Réclère
The Caves of Réclère began operating in 1890. Approximately 580 steps lead you up and down over 1.5 kilometers of paths inside. It lies in the small village of Réclère.
Within the Swiss Romandy, Réclère lies in the canton of Jura in northwest Switzerland. Jura is named after a mountain chain that extends into France. The Jura mountains have been a popular travel destination in western Europe for years due to their natural beauty with visitors flocking to the area both during summer and winter. There are a variety of lakes and mountains in the area.
The term Jurassic actually originates from the Jura mountains, which also gave the name to the canton of Jura.
And because caves keep a constant temperature and are protected from the elements, they have a different atmosphere compared to what we are used to above the ground.
Practical Information: Caves of Réclère
The Caves of Réclère are open from May until October. Tours are available daily at either 11:30 AM or 2:30 PM. In July and August, an additional tour is available at 3:45 PM. During public holidays, you can expect one tour per hour from 11:30 AM to 3:45 PM. The caves are also open for a limited number of days in November. Please check the website for more information.
- Temperature – The caves are constantly around 7 degrees, so warm clothing is recommended even in the summer.
- Clothing and shoes – Wear comfortable clothing and shoes because you will be going up and down the stairs quite a bit. There may also be areas that are wet and slippery.
- Entrance and tour – During our visit, we were not allowed to enter and exit by ourselves. A guide was assigned to us and we had a specific time slot to follow. The tour lasted for one hour. The cave tour can be combined with a visit to the nearby prehistoric park.
- Dining and shopping – A restaurant is nearby, along with a picnic area. There is also a small gift shop.
- Parking – There is ample parking space in front of the caves.
What to Expect: Caves of Réclère
Stalactites and stalagmites
At the Caves of Réclère, it’s like going down the center of the earth. You walk down and down until you find yourself at the bottom of the cave, knowing that the ground is meters above. Starting at the top of the cave, you will notice many stalactites. As you go down the cave, you will see more stalagmites.
Largest Stalagmite in Switzerland
Inside the cave, the Dome stands 15 meters high and is the largest stalagmite in Switzerland.
On the Dome, you’ll see stalagmites in different colors. You can see fresh stalagmites in white, and moss and/or dirt in black. Iron oxide produces the orange bits that you see on the stalagmites.
Tour of the Caves
On your way up or down, you’ll get a great view of various portions of the Caves of Réclère. You’ll find wide paths and handrails everywhere, as well as well-lighted paths, so there’s no need to be scared.
During our visit, there were bats in the caves in Réclère. The bats were hibernating, according to our guide. Each year, they’ll wake up and leave, then come back before they hibernate again. I was surprised by how small the bats were. They weren’t even bigger than my hand. Besides bats, there were also blind crabs inside the cave’s lake.
From start to finish, the tour takes about an hour. From the top of the cave, it goes down to the lowest point. Then it heads up again slowly until it reaches the exit.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and spoke both French and German.
Small Lake inside the Cave
Towards the end of the Caves of Réclère tour, you’ll see a little lake. It’s filled with water that falls from above. Fortunately, the Caves of Réclère aren’t that vulnerable to flooding. The water keeps flowing downward by finding crevices and other ways to seep through. Water just keeps going down into the earth.
The lake is full of small, blind crabs. The animals that have adapted to cave survival may have impaired vision or incomplete pigmentation. It’s because the animals have adapted to living in caves, and have physical changes such as diminished or absent vision and a loss of color. Cave animals must not only be able to adapt to those conditions, but also live in a
Final Thoughts: Caves of Réclère
Humans have always been fascinated by caves’ geological formations. The interesting rock formations hanging from the ceiling and the mounds of deposits on the floor make caves popular attractions.
At the Caves of Réclère, you’ll see this rare and natural beauty. Additionally, it is home to the country’s largest stalagmite – the Dome.
In case you happen to be in Jura or even Basel, be sure to stop by and enjoy the Caves of Réclère.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. She is based in the Lake Zurich region in Switzerland and has a second home in Grisons. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.