Beginner or Experienced Snowboarder? It's Saul Goodman!

You may never have heard of the ski resort of Metabief-Mont d'Or in the Haute Jura in France and I wouldn't have either if it wasn't for the fact that I pass it every time I drive down to Lausanne in Switzerland.

Most of the time Le Mont d'Or is just a grassy hill but sometimes it gets dumped on with over a meter of fresh snow.

When low pressure comes from the north-west to bring low temperatures and snow to the Alps it hits the Jura first because of its geographic location. When this happens Metabief gets more than its fair share of snow and it gets it first. Especially centres of low pressure that are weak tend to die out after dropping their snow in the Haute Jura mountains before moving on to the Alps. On these days Metabief has fresh snow while the Alps remain dry.

In any case it is worth checking the weather forecasts for low pressure from the north-west before planning a day-trip here.

Metabief-Mont d'Or is a ski resort in the french Haute Jura mountains close to the swiss border.

The Ski Town of Metabief

The ski resort of Metabief offers a modest 500 meter (1650 feet) difference in altitude between the bottom at 900 meters (2952 feet) and the top of Le Morond at 1420 meters altitude (4658 feet).

Metabief-Mont d'Or can be reached from Lausanne within 30 minutes when parking at Les Tavins just after crossing the swiss-french border at Les Echampes. From Pontarlier in France it takes less than 30 minutes to arrive in Metabief.

Hotels, restaurants and supermarkets are found in the town of Metabief and Jougne.

Bunny Hills and Jibbing

As already mentioned in my article about the Top 5 Unknown Snowboard Destinations Metabief-Mont d'Or is the go-to-place for people who are residing in Lausanne, Montreux or Geneva and who have kids or who are still learning snowboarding or skiing themselves. Because the ski pass prices are quite reasonable and because you have the option to buy as little as a 2 hour ski pass it is way more economic to learn snowboarding or skiing here than somewhere in the Alps.

Learning how to snowboard or ski is already frustrating enough so you could do without the frustration of buying an expensive ski pass that you are not using up to its full potential when rocking the bunny hill all day. The cool thing about Metabief is that the whole mountain is a bunny hill. Did you know that Metabief is actually french for 'bunny hill'? And did you also know that when you say the word gullible real slow it sounds like 'orange'?

Now that does not mean this place is boring for more advanced snowboarders or skiers. First of all the slopes are all steep enough to never fall still, even when you do a bit of powder sidestepping outside of the slopes and into the forest. Secondly the terrain offers a lot of features that can be jibbed.

Now if you are new to snowboarding then you are probably also new to a word like 'jib'. The Urban Dictionary defines a jib as "an object or obstacle used by a snowboarder to jump upon or over. The jib can be made from almost anything, natural or man-made: trees, logs, stumps, handrails, barrels, tires, vehicles, walls, people". I actually like jumping over people's abandoned skis outside of restaurants. Nothing like a little backside 180 across someones skis to bring back the tension between snowboarders and skiers.

Metabief Paradis Chairlift
Credit: Ervine Roodselaar

The view from the 'Paradis' chairlift in the direction of Le Mont d'Or with a view on the 'Renard' and 'Chamois' ski slopes.

The Skillful Art of Eating a Packed Lunch While Cruising Down the Slopes

When driving to Metabief from Lausanne it is easiest to park at Les Tavins where you can also buy a ski pass at the ticket office. When you still have to learn snowboarding or skiing or when you are looking for a way to get rid of your children quickly it is better to drive to the town of Metabief from where you have direct access to the bunny hills. This is also where you can hire skis or snowboards at two different rental places or book lessons at the ESF ski school. There is also a ski hire in the town of Jougne. Rental in french is written as 'location' so keep looking for those locations.

After mastering the skillful art of frontside and backside turns on your snowboard or pizza-fries on your skis it is time to check out the rest of the ski resort.

The chairlift appropriately named Moron D is the fastest and most modern ski lift in town. It is also the only chairlift that brings you up the mountain in less than ten minutes. The rest of the chairlifts are still from an era when taking a chairlift was considered a privilege. The chairlift of Morond will bring you directly to the highest elevation of the resort, the top of Le Morond (1420 meters / 4658 feet).

Depending on how well you can ride the slopes you can choose to either take the blue 'Berche' or the black 'Renversee' down to Metabief with blue being the easiest and black the hardest. There is also a green slope called 'Familiale' but because this is a path I only recommend this to beginning skiers. We all know that for snowboarders, who are still a bit shaky on the front- and backside turning, paths are the worst.

For more advanced skiers and snowboarders the green and blue slope are nice to cruise down and offer you the opportunity to eat your packed lunch. The black slope is only called black because it is not prepared, not because it is steep.

Metabief Le Morond
Credit: Ervine Roodselaar

The view from the top of Le Morond with the blue slope 'Berche' going back down to the town of Metabief.

Black, Green and Everything In Between

The only real steep part in the resort can be found on the side of Les Tavins on top of 'Roches' chairlift when you take a right turn down the 'Competition' slope. The very first part, right after exiting the chairlift, is especially steep and very tricky when slopes are icy. If you like slap-stick comedy I recommend stopping here for a minute to watch skiers and snowboarders negotiate the steep sheet of ice. It will give a clarifying insight in the dynamics of the non-existing discipline of downhill speed-skating.

Another option when reaching the end of 'Roches' chairlift is to take the 'Bouc Blanc' red slope or the 'Vieux Chalet' blue slope down. Since these two are nothing more than just a red and a blue slope I usually opt for the green 'Creux Soudet' because it offers some unconventional fun. 'Creux Soudet' is actually a hollow road with both sides going up most of the time providing a natural gully with plenty of options to jib. There are stones, little trees and small rivers that can be jumped and most of the time the road is steep enough to pick up speed after a little jib on the side. Only on the last part, after the second sharp left turn, you need to keep enough speed in order to make it out without having to take off one or two bindings.

Metabief Les Tavins Creux Soudet
Credit: Ervine Roodselaar

The start of the 'Creux Soudet' green slope after taking a left turn from the 'Roches' chairlift.

Wrapping Things Up

The ski resort of Metabief is small enough to check out all the different lifts and slopes in 4 hours. This is only possible if you know your way around so it helps studying the resort map before going.

Note for example, when studying the resort map, that in order to get from the Les Tavins side of the resort to the Metabief side you will have to take the 'Chamois' chairlift from somewhere halfway the 'Granges des Pauvres' blue slope.

Also to get back from the Metabief side to Les Tavins you need to take the same chairlift 'Chamois' down or you will have to try and find the start of the blue 'Raccourci' slope which is hidden somewhere on the right side of the red 'Troupezy' slope. 'Raccourci' is actually just a dirt road with snow on it so for snowboarders who are not yet comfortable making turns I recommend riding the 'Chamois' chairlift back down.

On the Les Tavins side, after being brought down to 'Granges des Pauvres' you can choose to remain seated and have the 'Chamois' chairlift bring you up to the black 'Competition' slope just below the steep icy part described earlier in this article.

If you parked your car on the Les Tavins side you can cruise all the way down to the parking from here and call it a day. If you still have to pick up your kids from the bunny hill on the Metabief side make sure you get the last ride up with the 'Chamois' chairlift before it closes or you will be stranded on the wrong side.

This sums up all the things you need to know to have a great time in the ski resort of Metabief-Mont d'Or. Keep checking the snow forecast this winter to make sure you only go there when conditions are epic.