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Hike – Romainmôtier and La Tine de Conflens

    Tine de Conflens

    Photo: La Tines de Conflens

    Villages, gorges, and history in a fairly forgotten corner of Switzerland. This is the sort of walk where the word ‘lovely’ sprang to mind most of the time.

    The recent weather had been all over the place: switching from hot to freezing and back again. This weekend was bringing more cold and snow down to 700m, so a low elevation hike in some sheltered valleys and forest seemed like the best idea. I had been meaning to visit these spots for years and this is possibly the perfect time of year with everything in spring bloom. Plus all the recent rain meant the streams and waterfalls were in full flow.

    I had actually intended to combine this with the Orb Gorge hike from Vallorbe to make it an overnight trip staying in Romainmôtier, but ended up doing both as day trips.

    Key Information

    Route: Premier – Romainmôtier – Croy – Ferreyres – La Tines de Conflens – La Sarrez.

    Length: 13km, +235m, -615m.

    Date: 2024-April-20.

    Romainmôtier Tine de Conflens map

    For more hikes in Switzerland see my list of hikes.

    Practical Information

    Season: Given the low elevation this is probably doable year round (with care in the gorges when it is cold enough for ice).

    Arrival/Departure: Train to ‘Croy-Romainmôtier’ and/or bus to ‘Romainmôtier, Les Portes’ (note that Romainmôtier is actually about 1.5km away from the train station and the buses only run once every 2 hours) / train from La Sarrez station.

    This would be a very easy trip coming from Lausanne which has a direct 35 minute train to ‘Croy-Romainmôtier’, but something of a pain from just about anywhere else. This is especially true coming from/to Yverdon-les-Bains in the east which has the tightest connection in Cossonay-Penthalaz; giving you just 2 minutes to cross under to the next platform and then further along down it.

    Supplies: Restaurants in Romainmôtier and La Sarrez, and a Migros by the footpath on the way into La Sarrez. Almost every fountain I saw had a sign saying the water wasn’t drinkable.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: Starting in Romainmôtier would save almost 2km, and skipping La Tines de Conflens to go straight to La Sarrez would save another 3km. There is a bus stop in Ferryres (that is about the only useful thing in the village).

    You can simply visit each by themselves. There is a car park next to Tine de Conflens and a bus around the corner ‘Ferreyres, La Tine’ or it is a 30-40 minute walk from La Sarrez station.

    Exposure/Hazards: Mostly the path was wide, smooth, and in the shade. The descent down by the Cascade du Dard and path immediately afterwards was a little bit steep/uneven. The path down to Tines is a bit steep and rough/slippery but there is always something to hold on to. Neither should present a challenge to most people.

    Other points:

    In terms of other people this was very quiet. There were a few other visitors in Romainmôtier, and few cars parked and people at Tine de Conflens, but for the most part I was alone on the paths. This was however a fairly grim weekend in April so it might be a bit busier on a nice summers day.

    Notes along the route

    The region between Yverdon-les-Bains and Lausanne is very easy to overlook. It is a rather gentle landscape and all most people will see of it (if they ever see it) is just the view from the intercity train as it zips between the two cities. It is actually a really lovely area full of beautiful little villages, castles, and gentle but pretty rural landscape.

    I decided to overshoot Romainmôtier and got off the bus at Premier, the next village up the hill. I had been hoping that this would mean a nice view of Romainmôtier as I descended into it, but it turns out Romainmôtier is so tucked away in the valley that you barely see it before you enter it. Still Premier sits on an open bit of hillside at almost 900m so there was a good view in general from the lakes and across to the Alps (which were mostly covered in cloud) which repaid the extra 25 minutes of walk it added on.

    Romainmôtier had caught my attention as it is often cited as being one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland, and it really does deserve that praise. It is the rare sort of village where it even escaped modern sprawl around the edges and really is just the historic core. Meaning of course that it is tiny and you have seen the whole place in 5 minutes. But that is a wonderful 5 minutes and it is worth taking a little walk up the road to the south which offers a nice view over the village.

    The main attraction is the Abbatiale de Romainmôtier which is thought to be the oldest and certainly looks like it. Entry is free and I pretty much had the place to myself with organ practice adding to the atmosphere. One thing not to miss is the little narrow staircase by the main entrance that leads up to another chapel – the chapel itself isn’t that interesting but the 500 year old claustrophobic staircase is.

    Romainmôtier Hike
    Abbatiale de Romainmôtier.
    Romainmôtier Hike
    Romainmôtier Hike

    From Romainmôtier the footpath follows the Nozon stream down the valley to Croy. Initially through forest, and then past meadows and alongside the village. All the time it had me thinking ‘well this is lovely. I didn’t actually venture into the main (and only really one) street of Croy but it looks like it would be quite nice too.

    Leaving Croy the path follows the valley as it sinks into the Nozon gorge. Initially very slowly so it barely felt like a ditch, and then suddenly I noticed that the walls were quite high above me. It starts dramatically with a big drop at the Cascade du Dard waterfall, then gradually descends on a lovely path which follows the stream through thick woodland

    1.4 km after the waterfall I turned away from the stream and (very gently) climbed out of the gorge following signs to Ferryres. This was fine but less memorable; walking though forest away and then across open landscape to the village. Ferryres itself wasn’t much more special but did have a few nice houses.

    Romainmôtier Hike
    Cascade du Dard.
    Romainmôtier Hike
    Through the Nozon gorge.

    From Ferryres the path down into the next valley and followed it along to the Tines de Conflens which you can sort of see from above, but for the best view it is reached by a short (sign posted) dead end path. The name is apparently local dialect for chute des confluents (waterfall at the confluence) and that is certainly what you get. It is a beautiful little spot, but the space at the end of the path is very limited and going further is forbidden due to the danger of rockfall.

    Tine de Conflens
    Tine de Conflens.

    A last few hundred metres in the forest brought me to La Sarrez at the end of the hike. Leaving the forest the path passes an old factory which is now regenerated into a number of smaller businesses, including a brewery, calling itself La Filature.

    La Sarrez felt a bit sad. The entry into the village is via modern housing and an industrial area which doesn’t make the best impression (especially after the rest of the walk). There is an old town, but most of it had a busy road going through it and the pedestrian section was full of shut shops. It did make up for this by having an impressive castle in a park which you are free to wander around in (and where I spent 30 minutes waiting for my train).

    La Sarrez castle
    La Sarrez château.

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