Photo: The iconic Saut de Brot.
The Areuse gorge must be one of the most dramatic sights in the Jura.
The route is variable as the gorge widens and narrows a number of times. Sometimes it is a narrow path cut into the stone cliff alongside a raging torrent, sometimes a gentle walk through the forest by a tranquil flow, and at a few points walking along a bit of paved access road for next to hydroelectric plants.
Route: Noiraigue – Champ-du-Moulin – Boudry (Littorail).
Length: 12km, +156m, -440m.
For more hikes in Switzerland see my list of hikes.
Season: Not advisable in the snow/ice, but otherwise most of the year.
Arrival/Departure: Train to Noiraigue / to Boudry (Littorail), you can also take the train from Boudry station but that is only hourly and the station is in a rather boring location so I suggest going down into the town.
Supplies: Restaurants at Noiragiue and Boudry, and in the middle at Champ-du-Moulin.
Alternate routes/shortcuts: The train station at Champ-du-Moulin about halfway along the gorge provides a shortcut.
Exposure/Hazards: Falling into the water wouldn’t be a good idea, but there is sufficient protection along the route that is shouldn’t be a problem.
Very easy to reach with public transport. Noiraigue is 25 minutes by hourly (half-hourly during rush hour) train from Neuchatel (which is on the main Geneva-Zürich line and is 30 mins from Bern). Boudry station is the suggested end point by My Switzerland and has a direct 11 minute train to Neuchatel, but is only hourly and the location isn’t somewhere that you want to spend more than 5 minutes of your life. Alternatively Boudry Littorail is a little further and also requires catching a bus in Neuchatel up to the main station, but it runs every 20 minutes and the area by the old town is a much nicer place to wait.
This can be done in either direction. But I prefer starting in Noiraigue as I think ending up at Boudry Littorail is the least boring option to wait for a ride home. The station at Noiraigue has a little shop with an impressively extensive collection of Absinthe for sale (this valley is the home of Absinthe), but otherwise the village is devoid of life and charm.
I have done this a few times over the years. Tt is especially good in May when the trees are vivid green, even more so if it recently rained.
The gorge is fairly popular with locals, so whilst I have never seen it rammed you will be passing plenty of people on a nice day.
Trainers/sneakers are usually fine for the route. though if it rained recently there might be some muddy patches and the limestone can be slippery.
Notes along the route
Noiraigue is also the standard start and end of the loop up to the cliffs at the Creux du Van. You extend that loop a little to include the Saut du Brot and the very top section of the gorge.
I always love the train ride from Neuchatel up the Val Travers. You get a view over the old town and titular chateau of Neuchatel, then over the the vineyards and lake (with a panorama of the Alps on a clear day), and finally up the dramatic landscape of the Areuse gorge. After Noiraigue the valley widens and whilst still beautiful is much gentler.
There are various bits of hydroelectric infrastructure along the way, so it doesn’t feel truly wild. But you do have almost 10km of gorge without any traffic and just the very occasional rumble of a train.
The Saut de Brot is the only rustic looking bridge. You cross back and forth over the river a number of times but everything else is simple modern metal stuff.
The pretty and very lonely feeling little hamlet at Champ-du-Moulin about 4km in has a cafe, restaurant, and a train stop. Otherwise there are no supplies or transport connections along the route.
Boudry does have a nice enough single street old town. Nothing that will blow you away, but worth a bimble if you have a few minutes until the next tram.
You could also carry on 3km to the Pointe d’Areuse where the river joins the lake (and then double back to the Littorail line).