Cascade des Tufs

Useful Information

Location: Les Planches Près Arbois.
At the end of the Cirque du Fer à Cheval.
(46.871667, 5.805278)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstTufa Deposits KarstSinter Terraces
Light: n/a
Guided tours:
Address: Castel Damandre, 18 Rue de la Cascade, 39600 Les Planches-prés-Arbois,+33 3 84 66 08 17. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Cascade des Tufs, Jura, France. Public Domain.
Cascade des Tufs, Jura, France. Public Domain.

The small river Cuisance springs from the debris at the end of the Cirque du Fer à Cheval south of Les Planches Près Arbois. This is a karst spring, most likely a collapsed entrance of a river cave similar to nearby Grotte Les Planches. The spring forms a shallow pond and then the Cuisance flows down the valley. The limestone rich water reaching the surface air looses carbon dioxide, more carbon dioxide is consumed by lichen, moss, and other plants in the river. The water is not able to keep the limestone dissolved and it precipitates. The deposition of limestone is disturbed by the movement of the water and the plants, which are encrusted. The plants die and decompose, leaving holes in the limestone. The result is tufa, a porous limestone which forms dams in and around the river. The river changes its bed and so it deposits a plateau with a steep escarpment at he end where the river forms a waterfall. This is the basic explanation for the name Cascade des Tufs.

The place is quite impressive, there is not only a waterfall, which actually grows by continually depositing limestone at the edge, There are also a series of rimstone pools which are also formed by the deposition of limestone on top of the rims or dams. The semicircular dams enclose pools or gours with turquoise, limestone rich water. They are quite inviting, but unfortunately they are not unly under nature protection, the water is also quite cold, around 10 °C even in summer.

The first plateau is quite big, 330 m long from the spring to the waterfalls, more than 150 m wide at the escarpment and some 15 m thick. Such deposits were often used to quarry the tufa for buildings and other purposes. The Cuisance then flows through meadows for about 500 m until it reaches the Castel Damandre, which is today a hotel and restaurant. Here is a second waterfall, quite similar to the first one but a little smaller. It is part of the castle grounds.

The best way to see the waterfalls is to park at the hotel and then walk for 10 minutes. There is a signposted trail around the waterfalls and gours with explanatory signs.