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A small village up in the Jura near the French border, 19km northwest of Yverdon on a steep and tortuous road, SAINTE-CROIX’s claim to fame is its 200-year history of making musical boxes, on show at the surprisingly diverting Musée du CIMA (Centre International de la Méchanique d’Art), 2 Rue de l’Industrie (guided tours June–Aug Mon 3pm, Tues–Sun 10.30am & 2–5pm; Sept–May Tues–Sun 2–5pm; Fr.9; SMP). The tours, which are in French with English notes available, last an hour and a quarter, and take in the full history, design and development of the art. As you go around, the guide starts up loads of intriguing musical figures, including an acrobat balancing on a chair-back, a whimsical Pierrot writing with a long quill, pianos, orchestras and fairground musicians. Some 6km west of Sainte-Croix is the small village of L’AUBERSON, with – on much the same lines – the Musée Baud, 23 Grand-Rue (July to mid-Sept daily 2–5pm; mid-Sept to June Sat 2–4pm, Sun 10am–noon & 2–6pm; Fr.7; SMP), displaying a grand Parisian fair-organ from 1900 and various musical figurines.
Northeast of Sainte-Croix, a sharp-edged ridge culminates in Mont Chasseron (1607m), one of the highest of Jura peaks, commanding a majestic panorama across the whole sweep of the distant Alps. There’s plenty of moderately taxing downhill skiing in winter, focused on the village of Les Rasses below the slopes at 1200m.
Hourly narrow-gauge trains climb from Yverdon to Sainte-Croix, terminating at the lower end of Rue de l’Industrie, 200m from the Musée du CIMA, which also houses the tourist office (024/454 27 02). Buses shuttle between Sainte-Croix and L’Auberson, and Sainte-Croix and Les Rasses.
Within Sainte-Croix, there’s a good HI hostel, 18 Rue Centrale (024/454 18 10, fax 454 45 22; a; April–Oct), with small dorms from Fr.25 and bikes for rent. Of the hotels, Les Fleurettes, 3 Chemin des Fleurettes (phone & fax 024/454 22 94; a) has plain rooms and some dorm beds, while the pine-shaded Grand Hôtel Résidence in Les Rasses (024/454 19 61, fax 454 19 42) lives up to its name, with spacious balconied rooms facing south to drink in the sunshine and gorgeous views.
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