Abstract : Splitting trees are those random trees where individuals give birth at constant rate during a lifetime with general distribution, to i.i.d. copies of themselves. The width process of a splitting tree is then a binary, homogeneous Crump--Mode--Jagers (CMJ) process, and is not Markovian unless the lifetime distribution is exponential. Here, we allow the birth rate to be infinite, that is, pairs of birth times and lifespans of newborns form a Poisson point process along the lifetime of their mother, with possibly infinite intensity measure. A splitting tree is a random (so-called) chronological tree. Each element of a chronological tree is a (so-called) existence point $(v,\tau)$ of some individual $v$ (vertex) in a discrete tree, where $\tau$ is a nonnegative real number called chronological level (time). We introduce a total order on existence points, called linear order, and a mapping $\varphi$ from the tree into the real line which preserves this order. The inverse of $\varphi$ is called the exploration process, and the projection of this inverse on chronological levels the contour process. For splitting trees truncated up to level $\tau$, we prove that thus defined contour process is a Lévy process reflected below $\tau$ and killed upon hitting 0. This allows to derive properties of (i) splitting trees: conceptual proof of Le Gall--Le Jan's theorem in the finite variation case, exceptional points, coalescent point process, age distribution; (ii) CMJ processes: one-dimensional marginals, conditionings, limit theorems, asymptotic numbers of individuals with infinite vs finite descendances.