Office de Tourisme des Coteaux du Jura
Office de Tourisme des Coteaux du Jura



The blind valley of Baume-les-Messieurs

One of the most beautiful examples of a Jurassian blind valley…

What is a “Reculée”?

 The Reculées are one of the most typical landscapes in the Jura.


Literally meaning “remote”, the geographical term was defined in the 19th century from a local word “culee” which had been used for a long time to denote these curious blind valleys or box canyons.

For geographers, a blind valley is a long valley through a limestone plateau which has horizontal layers, but which terminates suddenly in a cliff face, at the bottom of a limestone amphitheatre, where a river resurfaces.

Find out more about how blind valleys are formed. (In French)


The Baume les Messieurs Blind Valley is by far the best example of a blind valley. It cuts through the limestone plateau in the form of a branched valley, each branch finishes at an amphitheatre from where a river springs which then feeds into the Seille. Although it has many small branches the two main branches are 4km long, passing out into lower ground. The northern branch leads to the village of Ladoye sur Seille, passing by Blois sur Seille, and the southern branch heads towards the village of Baume les Messieurs.



The imperial abbey at Baume les Messieurs

An amazing site, stuffed with history...

The existence of an abbey at Baume les Messieurs has been on record since 869. At that time it was a monastic off-shoot of the women’s abbey at Château Chalon. In 890, the abbey was entrusted to Abbot Bernon (the abbot of Gigny). Then he, accompanied by six monks from Baume and six monks from Gigny sur Suran, founded the abbey at Cluny.

The development of the abbey of Baume started in the 11th century, and it was one of the most important monasteries in the diocese of Besancon.

In the 12th century, the abbey took the title of “Imperial Abbey” from a decision made by the emperor Frederic Barbarossa.

In 1147 Baume was taken under the authority of Cluny. It was from this point onwards that its decline began. At the end of the 18th century, the abbey became secular. The monks became canons. At the time of the Revolution, they left the abbey and a part of it was sold off to the public.

This Benedictine abbey, which is part of the Cluniac monasteries, today presents an impressive architectural ensemble, including certain elements that are typical of the early Romanesque art in the Jura.

The abbey church of St Peter, of which the most ancient parts date from the 11th century, has been classed as a Historical Monument since 1849. It has a 71m long nave with ten traverse arches. In the choir there is a Flemish altarpiece dating from the 16th century, which was given to the abbot Guillaume de Poupet by the town of Gand in Belgium. This altarpiece has a span of 5.6 metres. Remarkably painted and sculpted, it shows the life of Christ from birth to crucifixion.

The church also has a collection of tombstones dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, including that of Renaud de Bourgogne, Count of Montbelliard, and that of Jean de Watteville, abbot of Baume les Messieurs. A collection of Burgundian statues showing the high level of stonemasons’ skills can also be seen.







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Caves and waterfall at Baume les Messieurs

An exceptional natural site...

The caves

The caves at Baume les Messieurs are situated on the side of one of three valleys that were formed over 200 million years ago. Up to 120 metres underground, the caves offer a 500 metre long itinerary through galleries and chambers some of which are 80 metres high.

During the tour you can see strange stalactites, stalagmites, rivers and underground lakes, all of which are made magical by special lighting and a musical background. These caves are also home to bats and blind shrimps.

A river source called The Dard gushes from these caves and tumbles over a waterfall of tufa, where a variety of fauna live.

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The waterfall

The Cascades des Tufs at Baume les Messieurs is one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Nearby: large parking area for buses and cars - a minute away.

Souvenir shop, snack bar, covered picnic tables and a large grassed area for family or group picnics.