The chateau de Joux, beyond its history and its one thousand years of architecture, embodies memories of the past in more ways than one:

Memories of the abolition of slavery and the struggle for freedom, as the place of imprisonment and final resting place of  Toussaint Louverture, the former slave who became a general in the French army and governor of Santo-Domingo (now Haïti);
Memories of conflicts and borders, having been besieged a number of times;
Memories of an oral tradition of stories and legends that have arisen from its imposing size and its many mysteries.



Born in 1743, in the French colony of Santo Domingo (Haïti), Toussaint Louverture was a slave on a sugar plantation. He worked as a coachman. On receiving his freedom in 1776, he successfully managed a coffee plantation where he had his own slaves. He learned to read and write. After the French Revolution, the winds of freedom were stirring in Santo Domingo. On the night of 22nd August 1791, the slaves, gathered together for a voodoo ceremony at Bois-Caïman, swore an oath to rebel. Toussaint Louverture worked in secret to organise the insurrection. In order to bring order back to the colony, France ended up declaring the abolition of slavery, on February 4th, 1794.

Toussaint Louverture joined the French army to fight against the Spanish and the English. Having been made a general, he managed to unite the entire population of the island under his power. In 1801, he introduced an autonomist constitution that named him governor for life. This brought upon him the wrath of the consul Napoleon Bonaparte who sent 86 ships to take back power on the island and re-establish slavery. After 4 months of resistance, Toussaint Louverture was arrested by treacherous means and deported to France. On August 23rd, 1802, he was locked up in the Chateau de Joux without a trial, accused of high treason and rebellion.

Upon his arrival at the Chateau, he was already elderly. He was suffering from war wounds and a breathing condition. Every morning he received his rations of dry biscuits, cheese, salted meat, wine, sugar and coffee. He was also provided with heating and lighting. But his cell remained cold and damp. The walled up window let in little light. Toussaint Louverture was sworn to secrecy: he was not allowed to receive any visitors and was not allowed to go outside. After 7 months of detention, he died on April 7th, 1803.

On January 1st, 1804, Haïti became the first black republic in the world. Slavery was definitively abolished by France in 1848.

Toussaint Louverture, a hero during his life, became a truly mythical figure after his death. This image was established by writers, such as Victor Hugo and Lamartine, who portrayed the character of Toussaint Louverture in their novels, poetry, plays and biographies. From historical figure to fictional character, Toussaint Louverture has today become a figure known and acknowledged around the world.


Toussaint Louverture’s incarceration and death at the chateau de Joux soon earned the site its reputation as an important memorial in the fight for the abolition of slavery. Since the 19thC, Toussaint Louverture’s cell have been open to visitors who have come in large numbers to pay their respects.

In 2003, major events were organised to mark the bicentenary of his death. And from 2004 onwards the Chateau de Joux has become the first stage on the Route for the abolition of slavery in eastern France ( This route links 5 sites in the Franche-Comté and was extended in 2019 to 25 sites in the east of France and in Switzerland.

Each year, there are two commemorative moments to remember the fight for abolition. April 7th, the anniversary of the death of Toussaint Louverture is commemorated during an official ceremony. And on May 10th, International Day of the Abolition of Slavery marks the occasion with exhibitions or shows.


In 2019, the “Abolitions Route” became “the National Memorial Pole for the East of France and Switzerland” to bring together 25 major monuments and sites in the area, all linked to the slave trade and its abolition.

“At a national and even international level, the commitment to remembrance in our regions was pioneering. Starting as early as 1901, at the fort de Joux and joined from the 1950’s by sites at Champagney, Chamblanc, Fessenheim and Emberménil. In 1998, this momentum for memorials were structured and organised by the project for the “Route of the Abolitions of Slavery” the world’s first network of sites and memorials. This network became a non-profit organisation in 2004. Since 2015, it has been recognised as a public interest organisation. (…)”.

“Under the auspices of the Route of Abolitions non-profit organisation, 25 sites and memorials linked to the fight agains slavery now operate jointly under the name “National Memorial Pole in the East of France and Switzerland” in order to further the pioneering action of historic figures and to reinforce the historical commitment of France in the history of the slave trade and its abolitions.”

The official site


As the final resting place of Toussaint Louverture, the chateau de Joux is a memorial to the fight for the abolition of slavery. As such, it has forged strong links with the Haïtian community. A programme of activities focussing on the history of Haïti, the figure of Toussaint Louverture and haïtian art is available to the public: themed visits about the figure of Toussaint Louverture, performances on the subject of freedom, the history of slavery and emancipation, temporary exhibitions.

By reservation, from April to November, for a group of 15 people minimum, a private guided tour can be arranged with a specialist to discover the life of Toussaint Louverture at the chateau.

For school groups, an educational tour and workshop are available to help you and your class find out about Toussaint Louverture, colonisation, slavery and its abolition.

From June 6th to August 17th, the Pontalier Museum is hosting an exhibition called « From Haïti, animals tell their story » with works by haïtian artists Jasmin Joseph and Frantz Zéphirin, in partnership with The Haïtian Art Centre, the FACIM, the Faure museum in Aix-les-Bains, the New World museum in La Rochelle.


As part of its cultural and tourism promotion programme  for the chateau de Joux, the Grand Pontarlier District Council has included, as one of it major projects over the coming years, the creation of a museographic space dedicated to the struggle by Toussaint and the Haïtian people to abolish slavery and for their emancipation.

This space will exhibit 75 paintings by Haïtian artists retracing the history of this Caribbean island. These paintings were commissioned in 1992, for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, by the organisation Afrique en Création, curated by Jean-Marie Drot. After traveling around the world, these 75 paintings were donated in 2016 to the Grand Pontarlier District Council for the chateau de Joux permanent collection.

They will be exhibited at the heart of the chateau in the inner fort close to the cell  where Toussaint Louverture was emprisoned. They will provide a lively and contemporary view of Haïtian art and the struggle by Toussaint Louverture for the emancipation of his people, of all slaves and of people living under colonial rule. Temporary exhibitions by contemporary artists will showcase art from the Caribbean and from Africa.


Myths and legends from popular folklore help for the most part to explain impressive natural phenomena. They are passed down to us thanks to various authors who have consigned them in writing. In the Doubs county, Philippe Auguste Demesmay has, for example, collected and published them in his work Folk traditions of the Franche Comté.


In the Middle Ages, around 1170, Amauri III, lord of Joux, on his return from the crusades, spent days on end riding around his lands on a beautiful mare.

One day on his way out of the chateau, a badly secured portcullis fell on his horse, slicing it in two, just behind the rider. The latter, whose mind was elsewhere, did not realise what had happened and continued his excursion on his half-horse. After a long ride, the mare went to the Doubs river to quench her thirst. She drank so much and for such a long time that Amauri became impatient. Getting off his horse, he then discovered that she only had two legs and that the water she was drinking was pouring out of her guts. Horrified he made his way back to the castle.

No one ever saw Amauri’s mare again, but it is still said that she haunts the hills around Joux. Sometimes she goes to the Fontaine Ronde and drinks so much that the spring dries up.


One of the lords of Joux had three extremely beautiful daughters, Loïse, Berthe and Hermanance. They had many suitors, but were unmoved by the many requests for their hand in marriage. After repeated refusals, the lord of Joux decided to marry them off and organised a tournament at which the knights were invited to challenge each other for his daughters. But few knights turned up to the tournament, knowing all too well how fickle the daughters were. The fortune of battle fell to Arm of metal, Raymond the hunchback and forked-foot Hugues, whose nastiness was matched only by his ugliness. Hermance and her sisters could not find the resolve to throw themselves from the top of the castle walls to avoid their terrible fate. During the wedding celebrations it was discovered however, that the three brides to be, were no more than servants and that the princesses of Joux had fled. The rejected suitors set off in pursuit of them and arrived at the Entreportes gorge. Loïse, Berthe and Hermance who had stopped to get their breath back felt a  blast of intensely cold air that paralysed them. When Hugues, Raymond and Bras-de-fer thought they had caught the princesses, they found three stone statues (the walk starts at the Entreportes car park in Pontarlier), in decreasing order of size, just like Loïse, Berthe and Hermanance.


In medieval times, Loïse,  princess of Joux, was very sad after the departure of her fiancé for the Holy Land. Years later, whilst on a walk, a knight appeared to her at the end of a path. Greeting her, he said:

“Noble maid, are you not Loïse de Joux, betrothed to Thibaud?”
Yes, sire, but I have had no news of him for a long time and I know not whether he is still alive.”
“Know that he is indeed alive! But he has forgotten you.”
“No man will ever replace my one and only love Thibaud! My heart is sad but I am deeply happy to know that he lives!”

The knight lifted the visor on his helmet and Loïse recognised Thibaud, her fiancé, but such was the emotion that she fell dead at the feet of her loved one. On her grave were inscribed the words: “Here lies Loïse de Joux, who died of happiness”.


In 1170, Berthe had been recently married and was expecting a child when her husband Amauri III, lord of Joux, had to leave for the crusades. Weeks, months and years went by and Berthe had no news of him. And then one day, a wounded knight came to the gates of the castle. he was called Amé de Montfaucon. Returning from the Holy Land, he asked for shelter. Berthe took him in and tended to his wounds. Amé told her that on their journey Amaury had been wounded and that there was no chance that he had survived. A tearful Berthe spent several days wandering around the adjoining forest. So many tears flowed from her beautiful blue eyes that in the hollow of a rock where she had sat appeared a spring of blue water (between the villages of Montperreux and Malbuisson).

On her return to the castle, Berthe and Amé spent more and more time together and very quickly Berthe succumbed to Amés many charms. Having been given up as dead, Amaury however, returned and caught the lovers by surprise. Mad with rage, he killed Amé and had his body hung in the forest opposite the castle. As for his wife, he had her locked up in a tiny cell so small that she could not lie down. Legend has it that Berthe was taken out twice a day and led to an arrow slit so that she could look upon her lover’s corpse.

Twelve years later, on the death of her husband, Berthe was freed from her cell by their son Henry, and she then retired to the Abbey at Montbenoît to end her days.

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