Valanginian sedimentary archives display a positive anomaly in the carbon-isotope record which is associated with a crisis in neritic and pelagic carbonate production. This study aims to reconstruct the evolution of palaeoenvironments in the Jura area and the Vocontian Basin during late Berriasian and early Valanginian times, in order to better understand the controlling factors leading to the Valanginian episode of major environmental change. Three sections along a transect through the Jura platform (Switzerland and France) and the Vocontian Basin (France) have been studied. Stratigraphic correlations have been established by combining biostratigraphy (benthic foraminifera, ammonites and calpionellids), with geochemistry (δ13C trends) and sequence stratigraphy. A change from a rimmed ramp to a swell-dominated ramp morphology is observed through the Berriasian–Valanginian boundary. The disappearance of the barrier appears to have been controlled by large sea-level variations in combination with the arrival of significantly more humid climate conditions. This barrier played a major role in the distribution of geochemical, mineralogical and palynological fluxes towards the basin: during the Berriasian, continental fluxes (detrital particles, nutrients, pollen and spores) were buffered by the platform morphology, whereas in the early Valanginian they were more readily transported towards the basin. The initiation of a major transgression onto lateritic soils, leading to their intense reworking, instigated a fertilization of ocean waters during the earliest Valanginian and with that a change towards heterozoan carbonate production, and subsequently to the demise of the already weakened carbonate platform.