After our month in Bulgaria, we are now back in Switzerland and it is with undisguised pleasure that we put on our sneakers again to go hiking in our beautiful mountains. But beware, this time we left the Alps and headed for the Jura Vaudois! Following an invitation from the tourist office of the Yverdon region, we came to the area to discover the small gems of the north of Vaud (and stretch our legs a little). In this article we take you with us to the Vallorbe region!
Vallorbe, a small village in the Vaud Jura
The small village of Vallorbe I knew it mainly for 4 things:
- The caves of Vallorbe (a place where every child from French-speaking Switzerland has been to on a school trip at least once)
- The Museum of Iron and Railways
- The nice and strong accent from the locals
- It is a TGV stop between Lausanne and Paris
I’m sorry, but after our visit to Vallorbe I still don’t know how to explain why the TGVs from Paris to Lausanne stop in this small village where some 3800 people live (at the same time the TGV also stops in Frasne and Mouchard so why not I want to tell you…).
But what I can tell you after our visit is that Vallorbe is definitely not lacking in charm. With the Orbe (the river) flowing right in the middle, its pretty train station overlooking the village and its main street full of life, Vallorbe is definitely a pretty stopover for a visit to the north of Vaud!
The Gorges de l’Orbe: our hike along the Orbe
If we came to Vallorbe it was not so much for the TGV or the railway museum, but to go on a hike (we’ll never change). Arriving early in the morning, we started by taking the postal bus to the small town of Orbe, 17km away. The plan was to walk back to Vallorbe along the path that goes up the Orbe Gorge (along the Orbe river).
Start of the hike in Orbe
From the Orbe station we started the hike directly by reaching the banks of the Orbe at the level of the football fields. From this point, the path is very well marked and you just have to follow the signs for Vallorbe.
The right bank of the Orbe Gorge
After a first bit in the forest we arrive at a crossroads where we have two options: follow the right bank or the left bank. Intrigued by a sign saying that the right bank path was new and safe, we opted for this one (we thought that the left bank should pass less close to the gorges if it was indicated like that).
So we won’t be able to talk to you about the left bank alternative or even compare, but in any case we were delighted to have followed the right bank. 🙂 To tell you the truth, we didn’t really see the time pass!
And to those who would be wondering (I admit I asked myself the same question): Hiking “up” the gorges (instead of going down) is really not difficult! Online, we had read mostly routes that went in the direction of the descent, but personally I always preferred to “climb” so as to spare the knees a little. In the case of the gorges I think it doesn’t change much because the slope is gentle and very regular, so on both the ascent and descent there is really no particular difficulty to report.
The Day waterfall
After about 3 hours of walking (I admit I didn’t exactly look at my watch) we arrived at the Day fall, a magnificent waterfall located below the hamlet named after the…. Day (of course) and its famous miltary barracks. 🙂
The Day Leap is really one of those little hidden treasures… I had never heard of it before and I must say that it would be a shame to come to the region and miss it.
The little something extra about these waterfalls? A tunnel has been dug to pass UNDER the waterfall and join the path that goes up to the Day on the other side.
The Day viaduct and back to Vallorbe
After the waterfall we climbed up the small winding path until we reached the exercise square and the barracks at Le Day. Needless to say, seeing military infrastructure did not bring back only good memories for Benoit… Even though now that he is released from his obligations #TooOld, he is already smiling more as he walks past a army barrack.
After the army barracks, the climbing is over. We join the railway lines, then, as soon as we return to the Orbe, we simply follow the river to return to Vallorbe.
This section also passes near the Day viaduct. This railway viaduct was originally built in the 1860s and replaced by a more modern version in the 1920s. On our hiking itinerary we only pass by, but we strongly recommend that you take a short detour and use the passage that passes through the viaduct to enjoy the magnificent view of the Orbe and the Dent de Vaulion as a backdrop.
- Distance: 16km
- Elevation changes: 500m + et 230m –
- Duration: count approximately 4h30-5h of walking time
- Difficulty: easy, an ideal walk for the whole family
- Bus: A postal bus runs several times a day between Orbe and Vallorbe or there is also a way to combine trains. Travel time: approx. 40 minutes / Trip price: CHF 4.6 with the Half-Fare travelcard
The Caves in Vallorbe
I told you before, if I already knew Vallorbe it was mainly for its caves…. I had already come here on a school trip some time ago…. be careful…. 27 years ago to be precise! #NotGettingAnyYounger
My memories of that time being relatively fuzzy and also because Benoit couldn’t know if he had ever been there or not, we decided to go for a walk after our hike.
The visit of the caves is done independently by following a marked route. For the information, you can choose between a mobile application or a small paper brochure. The information is interesting, even if personally I quickly realized that my “speleology” vocabulary clearly needs some improvements…
On your left after the crystal gour, a concretion of fistulas. The calcite and the concretions in a frizzy platoon will seduce you
Hmmm…. certainly… So I’m clearly not yet ready to give you a geology course, but what we can tell you is that the visit is magnificent! The route is very varied and we have the opportunity to observe many different “formations”. 🙂
The big plus? Coming here during the week and especially at the end of the day, we were absolutely alone on the course! We did not meet a living soul and it was really magical to be able to move forward in silence and at our own pace in this impressive cave (I mean “in silence”… Benoit will probably tell you that I talked non-stop as usual but you see the idea!) 🙂
Let’s stop talking, here are some pictures:
Valgrotte Cheese: we had to!
At the exit of the caves of Vallorbe, there is a last series of rooms with exhibitions of stones and rocks from all over the world. It was very pretty to look at, but as soon as we entered the first room with Benoit we immediately “felt” that there was something extra around here! Yes, yes, put two little Swiss addicts anywhere and they smell a good cheese for miles around!
Our instincts didn’t fool us. After the first room we were facing a room where there were… cheese wheels maturing! Cheese matured in the caves of Vallorbe? Well, it’s simply called Valgrotte. Needless to say, the marketing worked completely well and we left with a piece for the aperitif! 🙂
- Where: Chemin des Grottes, Chemin de la Résurgence 1, 1337 Vallorbe
- Opening months: From March to November
- Opening hours:
- March & November: 13h30-16h (last entry)
- April, May, September & October: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm (last entry)
- June, July, August: 9h30 – 17h30 (last entry)
- Price: 15 CHF per adult (7 CHF for children up to 15 years old)
- Visit Duration: about 1 hour
The dent de Vaulion and its panoramic view
To end this beautiful day we decided to take a little height to watch the sunset. All we had to do was lift our noses from the centre of Vallorbe to be immediately attracted by the large antenna that sits on the dent de Vaulion.
It is possible to walk to the dent de Vaulion from Vallorbe, but as we had already walked more than 23km that day we preferred to go by car (you’ll excuse us, right?) 🙂
Update 2020: we finally made the ascent as we hiked on the Jura crest trail (June 2020). Find the complete route below.
alpine horn Concert at the dent de Vaulion
From Vallorbe, it takes about twenty minutes to reach almost the top of the Dent de Vaulion, more precisely at the level of the buvette of the dent de Vaulion. When we opened the car door, we were immediately surprised to hear the sound of alpine horns! This typically Swiss instrument is probably one of my favorite “Swiss clichés”. Its sound resonates for miles around and instantly immerses us in a very typical atmosphere.
The dent de Vaulion refreshment bar organizes a concert of alphorn every first Tuesday of the month! We gave it to you in the bull’s-eye, we had no idea before, so we were really lucky! 🙂 For your information, the bar is open every day from April to October.
Ascent to the Dent de Vaulion for sunset
It must have been 6pm when we arrived and the refreshment bar was packed (the Alpine horn seems to attract crowds). In short, as it was impossible to have a table, but also and especially because we wanted to see the view from above, we attacked the small hundred meters that still separated us from the summit. At the refreshment bar the view is nice…. But as we move forward we have the landscape that emerges more and more! Lake Geneva, the majestic Mont-Blanc facing us, Lake Joux and once at the top: a 360° panorama that goes from the Jura mountains to the Alps with Lake Neuchâtel as a bonus.
It was pretty crazy to see the whole Alps chain! At the orientation table we realized that we could almost see the entire route of the Via Alpina we hiked in 2016.
In short, if you come to the refreshment bar, don’t miss the opportunity to walk the last few meters to the top. The view is just crazy (and even more so at sunset)!
A chilly dinner at the refreshment bar
Once the sun was down, we headed back to the restaurant. The people who were on the terrace before had all come inside the restaurant to eat (it’s cold in September up there). The restaurant was totally crowded and it was impossible to get a table insinde… We briefly hesitated to go down to Vallorbe, but in the end we picked up our down jackets in the car and we settled on the terrace. Nothing like a mushroom crust to warm up the body (and as a bonus we even got a yodel concert from other customers of the restaurant who seemed to have enjoyed the local wine too). 😉
Hiking from Vallorbe to the Dent de Vaulion (update 2020)
We really liked the dent de Vaulion on our first visit in 2019 and we were therefore very happy to pass it again on our Jura crest trail (a 320km route from Dielsdorf to Nyon that we completed in May 2020). Unlike our first visit, this time we were not by car… 😉
As we told you in 2019, the climb is also possible on foot and it is now done for us. 🙂 That day we didn’t start from Vallorbe but from a bit before (the mountain pasture of La Thiole to be precise) but for this article we will focus on the part between Vallorbe and Le Pont (easily accessible by public transport if you come for a day hike).
From the centre of Vallobre we started by going along the river for a while before joining a wide forest track that gently climbs towards the ridge leading to the dent de Vaulion. This first part of the route is not the most “pretty” one, but at least it has the merit of not posing any difficulty.
Only the last stretch in the forest before the ridge turns into a trail and will probably warm up your thighs a bit. It’s steep, very steep even… But I promise it’s quite short! 🙂
Once at the ridge, the slope softens again and we continue climbing towards the dent de Vaulion we already have in sight! The panorama is now magnificent and we enjoy the beautiful view on almost all the ridges of the Jura.
Before reaching the dent de Vaulion there is one last little suspense for the thighs! The last 500 meters of distance are very steep, but I promise it is quite short. And above all, with the reward of the view at the finish I promise you that it motivates!
From Dent de Vaulion we have several options:
- you can go down to Vallorbe by the same route.
- Go back down towards the Pétra-Félix pass (from where you can continue towards the Mont tendre or take a bus)
- Take the path that winds down to the village of Le Pont on the shores of Lac de Joux (from there you can take a train).
We opted for the third option and we didn’t regret it! In fact the descent is quite steep at the beginning, but soon we have the choice between continuing on the trail that cuts the track or taking the track that goes down more quietly. Our legs being already quite painful we preferred to spare our knees and followed the small road (it’s longer but we arrive at the same place).
The big positive point of this descent is probably the magnificent view that we have all along the lake! During our hike the weather was not so good but we can imagine what it can look like when the weather is nice! 🙂
Hiking Map to the Dent de Vaulion from Vallorbe
Where to stay in Vallorbe?
As for housing, you probably know that in Switzerland it is relatively expensive…. But in Vallorbe there are still some options that are reasonable. For our part, we preferred to skip the hotel and opted for a B&B. In Vallorbe, there are three of them available on the website of the tourist office.
We opted for the B&B of Viviane and Dominique Laffely, rue de l’Orbe 19. It was really perfect! A nice room, a warm welcome and an excellent breakfast with local products for 120 CHF / night (for 2 people).
The rest of our stay in the canton of Vaud
The next morning we took the car again and this time we left for Sainte-Croix to do another “panoramic” hike… But we’ll tell you all about it in the next article!
In the meantime, we wish you an excellent week and we hope that you enjoyed these few images of the region. We are really happy to tell you a little more about the regions that are all close to where we grew up! On our blog, we will soon have 40 articles dedicated to Switzerland, so don’t hesitate to take a look at this page to find even more inspiration 100% “Made in Switzerland”.
See you soon!
Note: This stay was carried out in collaboration with the tourist office of Yverdon-les-Bains Region. For this trip the region gave us an envelope and gave us carte blanche to organize our program and book the accommodation of our choice. We thank them infinitely for their trust and especially for having given us the opportunity to discover their beautiful region “in our own way”.