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A region famous for the know-how of the craftsmen of the Haut-Jura and for the Hirondelles- line: a trainline that will give you an eyeful!
The history of Morez starts in the 15th century. Closely linked to the use of wood and water as a driving force, the presence of the La Bienne river inspired a first blacksmith to build a mill, a smithy and a sawmill there around 1565. This unspoilt combe was called « la Combe à Morel » in his memory.
In the late 18th century the nailmaker Pierre Hyacinthe Cazeaux comes up with the idea of making spectacle frames with metal wire. The production of spectacles develops in Morez. In the late 19th century Morez is the major global manufacturing centre and exports its products worldwide.
Eyewear production today remains the main industrial activity in the canton of Morez, with the Jura as the major eyewear production region in France. In Morez, eyewear production represents a real network with companies, the Lycée Victor Bérard that educates the opticians of the future, the professional union of Spectacle makers of the Jura and the Technological Spectacle Association (Alutec), the school of the Best Optician workers in France, but also the Spectacles Museum, with some 17000 visitors each year.
The artisanal expertise in Morez is also illustrated by the enamel production. The speciality of enamel work was born in the mid 18th century to provide the enamel faces of the Comté watches and experienced its golden age a century later with hearts for tombstones also called « cœurs de Morez », street signs and house numbers. This expertise still exists today with the Maison de l’Email, a creative place to visit dedicated to that material.
The city of Morez would not be recognisable without its famous viaducts: the section of the railway des Hirondelles, from Morbier to Morez, provides an unusual bird’s eye view of the city and is an unsurpassed technical achievement as the two municipalities are 1.5 km apart as the crow flies, but they are separated by 150m difference in altitude! The result is 5km of tracks on the mountain flank passing 3 viaducts and 1 tunnel of 1500 metres shaped like a horse shoe.