Underground adventures

© Station des Rousses
In Jura, a former military fort houses a unique adventure park. Locked in underground galleries dotted with obstacles, you must find the way out, as did commandos in the past. A lot of fun for old and young alike.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
470 km from Paris on autoroutes A6, A31, A36, A39 and A391 till exit 7, then on N83 till Poligny, on N5 till Morez and on D29 till Les Rousses.
- Train
TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Dole and TER from Dole to Morez, 8 km from Les Rousses. The journey takes between 4 hours and 4 hours 30 minutes.
Bus or taxi from Morez to Les Rousses.
- Hotels
Le Lodge
La Ferme du Père François
- Bed and Breakfast
Golf du Rochat
La Redoute
Le Refuge
L’Anversis, in Lamoura
Opening hours and dates
- From May 8th to July 8th and from September 3rd to 30th on Sundays and Bank holidays from 2pm to 4pm
- From July 9th to September 1st on Mondays from 2pm to 6pm
- Adults : €22.30
- Children from 7 to 15 years old : €16.70
- Franche Comté Tourism Office
Tel : 0810101113
- Les Rousses Tourism Office
Adventure parks are of course one of those activities more enjoyable to do when the weather is fine except if they are installed inside buildings. Created in the former military fort of Les Rousses, a ski resort located in the Jura Mountains, the Souterrains Aventure is one of them and offers identical conditions all year round, even in the heart of winter.
Second largest fort in France, it was built between 1843 and 1863 to protect the country from a possible offensive invasion from Switzerland and was able to host 2 500 soldiers and 2 000 horses.

© Station des Rousses
 Learning how to escape
However, due to the progress of artillery and the invention of rifled cannons, it quickly became defensively useless and till 1997 mainly served as barracks and a commandos training base. Nowadays owned by the town, it has been partially transformed in a huge cheese maturing and storage cellar containing about 50 000 Comté wheels while another part of the installations has become an adventure park offering various activities. It includes the Souterrains Aventure that is inspired from an exercise that was meant to teach soldiers how to escape in case they would be taken prisoners. Locked in labyrinths set up in the fort underground galleries and left in underwear, they had to find their clothes and the way out in the darkness. This test required them hours because these routes are dotted with very narrow and winding passageways as well as with all kinds of obstacles.

© Station des Rousses
 Step into the shoes of commandos
Four of these routes have been refurbished to create the Souterrains Aventure and so you can now step into the shoes of commandos. But don’t worry, unlike them you are equipped with a headlamp to help you find the way. At least some of you. Indeed, only one out of two or three people get one. Otherwise it is too easy. Allowed to kids from 7 years old and at least 1,20 m high, this activity guaranteeing fun for young and old alike can be done by almost everyone because it doesn’t require important physical efforts. However, it’s not for people suffering of claustrophobia or obesity. “When we see the participants we are usually able to tell them right away if they can take on the challenge or no. And if we wrongly estimate their size and their agility, a narrow passageway located at the very beginning of the route acts as a filter and they can easily turn back”, explains the instructor who doesn’t get into the galleries with the participants.

© Station des Rousses
 30 minutes to cover 50 meters
They must find the way by themselves but air vents allow us to hear them, to follow their progress and in case of problem we can switch on the lights and intervene right away”. Having said that, this activity doesn’t present any risk. Before starting, in order to avoid you to bump your head and get dirty, you get a helmet, coveralls and, if you wish, boots because water seeps into the galleries when it rains.
Each route is only about fifty meters long but it requires an average of 20 to 30 mn to cover this short distance !!! Indeed, the number and the nature of the obstacles make you move very slowly. To get from one room to another, you have to crawl in narrow tunnels, climb walls to reach openings, wriggle and writhe to get through chicanes, slip into pipes or traps, pass under walls and squeeze between concrete blocks…..

© Station des Rousses
 Hidden riddles
In addition, sometimes you must retrace your steps because some rooms have several exits, but only one allows you to continue your way toward the exit. The other ones either lead you to a dead end or to a loop bringing you back to the same room. Along the two first routes, you must also find little riddles hidden in the rooms and solve them in order to get a password opening the lock of the exit door.
Is the “Souterrains Aventure” easier to do for kids or adults ?.. It depends on the obstacles. Of course, children get more easily through narrow and winding passageways. But when strength, power or stature is required, adults have an advantage. In any case, moving in group of two or three helps a lot because one can push, pull and give his partner a leg up.

April 20, 2013
Thierry Joly