It took two attempts to visit the Hérisson Falls in the Jura region of France, not far from the Swiss border. On the first day we arrived in torrential rain that had turned the car park into a lake and the footpath up to the falls into a river. We did not even leave the car. A day later and it was still raining, but we tried again, and as we approached the same spot as the day before the sky began to clear and our way to the waterfalls was clear.
Altogether 31 waterfalls and rapids make up the Hérisson, which fall roughly 300 metres in altitude over nearly four kilometres, and to see them – especially after days of rain – is to experience something truly powerful as the water tumbles and falls over the rocks. For over seven hundred years this power had been harnessed by people to help them exploit the natural resources of the regions, including hemp, wood and iron ore. The advent of electricity in the nineteenth century meant that the waterfalls were no longer needed for their raw energy, but became instead a popular destination on the local tourism trail.
Despite the muddy trails and the drizzle that continued to fall as we walked up the side of the falls through the trees, there were plenty of others who had turned out to experience the Hérisson in all their glory… and there were plenty of examples of inappropriate footwear caked in mood by the time people made their way back to the car park. By now mist was rising from the forests that clung to the slopes of the valley, and it was clear that what we had seen and were experiencing were directly related to the weather that had driven us away the day before. Sometimes it is just worth the wait.
Words: Paul Scraton
Pictures: Katrin Schönig