By : Odile Roulet @odile.roulet. via Instagram

My first canoeing treasure hunt

Canoe treasure hunt on the Doubs river

The sun is shining on this beautiful day in June, and summer has definitely arrived. My colleague Cathy and I decide to make the most of our day off and do something no one in the Jura should miss out on: a canoe trip down the River Doubs! All of our colleagues have already been on this adventure and are happy to tell anyone who will listen about their exciting journey downriver.

So now it is our turn to get wet!

Although we love being outdoors and doing sport, neither Cathy nor I are great navigators. This canoeing trip will even be a first for Cathy. As for me, I’ve paddled more than a few kilometres down the River Ardèche, but I must admit that my canoeing companion and the current did most of the hard work…

OFF TO St Ursanne

Cathy and I first head to the Bar Hasard, our favourite café in Biel-Bienne, to buy a delicious grilled vegetable panini to eat on the train to St Ursanne.

The train journey takes us through the delightful Jurassian countryside to the station at St Ursanne, from where we follow a winding path down to the Maison du Tourisme, right by the River Doubs. Just five minutes away!
The path that leads to the Maison du Tourisme passes under the railway bridge in St Ursanne.
The path that leads to the Maison du Tourisme passes under the railway bridge in St Ursanne. ©Catherine Gerber


We are welcomed by Fred, the owner, who greets us with a broad smile and asks "So, are you ready, ladies?" who is busy attending to a group of schoolchildren.

We put on our swimming costumes and pay close attention to Fred’s explanations. He suggests that we don’t simply paddle down the river, but instead go on a canoeing treasure hunt! With a treasure map in one hand, a paddle in the other, not forgetting our mobile phones - after all, we need to capture some memories of this escapade on camera - we set off down the Doubs aboard our red canoe, in search of the first clues hidden along the river banks.
Canoeing treasure hunt on the River Doubs
Canoeing treasure hunt on the River Doubs ©Catherine Gerber


At first, we paddle rather hesitantly, zigzagging a fair amount, because after all, it’s the current we’re up against. Although it’s true that the river is very calm, it being June… but all the same! Little by little, with a lot of laughter and a little perseverance, we manage to coordinate our strokes and slowly progress along the river. We are surrounded by stunning green hills and forests. The water is clear and we see several fish, who no doubt mock us slightly for our clumsy movements. 

Feeling quite proud, we collect our first clue (no, no, we won’t tell you more here!) and suddenly we have arrived at the little beach that marks the halfway point along our route. Oh dear, we’ve missed out quite a few clues along the way!
Bathing in the River Doubs
Bathing in the River Doubs ©Catherine Gerber

We land on the beach and decide to take a refreshing dip in the river. How wonderful it is to drift along with the current!

Grabbing our paddles again, we get back in the canoe to continue on our way, promising ourselves to chat less and to pay more attention. Helped by the current, we make good progress along the river, and between taking selfies, carefully collect all our clues. Back at the Maison du Tourisme, we victoriously manage to open the treasure chest with the help of the clues we have collected, watched by Fred, who is amused to see us so caught up in the game. To celebrate our success, we enjoy a snack in the cool shade of the Maison du Tourisme’s terrace.


Before taking the train home, we decide to take a look around the charming village of St Ursanne. We pop into the new Peanut Lodge in the village centre, where we find fully renovated rooms decorated in a medieval-inspired style.
Stroll through the medieval town of St Ursanne
Stroll through the medieval town of St Ursanne ©Catherine Gerber

On the journey home, we pass the time looking through our photos and videos of the day. And we agree that we will come back with our families sometime in the summer to enjoy a timeless weekend in St Ursanne!