The Areuse Gorge in the Val de Travers attracts visitors with its wild nature and the stone bridge. A great hike in the Gorges de l’Areuse goes from Noiraigue to Boudry.
Text and pictures by Marc Gottwald
The Areuse Gorge Hike
- – The hike through the Areuse Gorge takes about 3 hours and goes from Noiraigue to Boudry. It is in the Val de Travers.
- – If you only want to see the stone bridge in the Gorges de l’Areuse, you could also park in Champ du Moulin and walk 20 minutes in the direction of Noiraigue.
- – There is also a restaurant in this Swiss Gorge: La Truite in Champ du Moulin.
- – Take enough to drink with you.
Welcome to Noiraigue, a small village in the Neuchâtel Jura. Today we are going on one of the most beautiful hikes in Western Switzerland.
Yes, by now this excursion destination is hyped up. The stone bridge in the Areuse Gorge is particularly impressive. But there are also many other surprises waiting for you.
Gorges de l’Areuse Hike Part 1: Noiraigue to the Stone Bridge
We arrived in Noiraigue this morning by train. It had quite a few people, but it was never crowded.
However, all hikers apart from one family flock to the Creux du Van. Yes, the Creux du Van is a second very popular Swiss destination in the region. You’ll find everything you need here.
But what few people know: The hike to the Creux du Van can be combined with the first part of the Areuse Gorge . This way you see at least three natural wonders in one day. The third is the Fontaine Froide. This is a fountain that lets out water that is 4 degrees cold all year round.
The first steps of our three-hour hike to Boudry are through the idyllic village of Noiraigue. You could almost think that time has stood still here in the Val de Travers. And that’s exactly what I love so much.
But after only 10 minutes we have left the village and are getting closer and closer to the sound of the river. It is hardly surprising that this river is called “Areuse“.
Economic use of the Areuse river
The river in this Swiss Gorge was used for commercial purposes early on. For example, there were mills, blacksmiths and sawmills on the Areuse. But there are also many hydroelectric power plants, which have a major impact on nature.
Imagine that: There are a total of 7 power stations along the 32 kilometers of the Areuse. That’s an enormous amount! You will find three of these seven power stations in the Areuse Gorge. And the first one comes right after Noiraigue.
Although often praised as the best alternative, hydropower plants are terrible for flora and fauna. Not only because they create barriers. Also because the water speed changes within minutes. So neither an animal nor a plant can adapt.
But on the Areuse Gorge hike we also spot great examples of unspoilt nature. Almost directly next to the first power station, we see an intact floodplain landscape. The river, the wood-free floodplain, as well as the trees (softwood floodplain). The flood plain is near the first benches. So you can see it well.
By the way, floodplain landscapes are THE biodiversity hotspots. Only 0.3% of Switzerland still consists of floodplains. This proportion was much higher before the rivers were straightened. And yet 40% of all plant and animal species occur here! Because it is so diverse in such a small area.
After a short drink break, we continue to one of the wildest parts of the Gorge de l’Areuse.
Stone bridge Areuse Gorge
And now you see it: the beautiful stone bridge. This picture in the Gorges de l’Areuse is fantastic and like painted. I bet poets like Goethe would have had many new ideas here.
Wow! I could really stay here for a long time. For me, one of the most beautiful gorges in Switzerland. The Areuse Gorge is a place of power! And for photographers, the gorge is especially interesting between May and October when there are leaves.
Incidentally, the exact meaning of the stone bridge is still not known today. But it is assumed that the bridge was built as a connection between the industry (eg blacksmith’s shop) and Champ du Moulin (trout farm).
If you want to hike up the Creux du Van , take a few steps back and start the ascent.
Gorges de l’Areuse Hike Part 2: Stone Bridge to Boudry
But for today’s hike in the Areuse Gorge, we continue downhill. In about 20 minutes we reach Champ du Moulin. This picturesque place was even visited by the writer Jean Jaques Rousseu, who stayed in the big white house. He liked it so much that he spent a week here spontaneously.
The House of Nature in Champ du Moulin is also a great attraction for hikers and nature lovers. It explains the flora and fauna in the Areuse Gorge.
If you want something to eat, there is a restaurant in Champ du Moulin called La Truite. “Truite” means trout french. Accordingly, they serve mainly fish dishes. The restaurant is also the last place to go for refreshments and to fill up your water bottles. Please check the opening hours before.
Do you just want to see the stone bridge of the Areuse Gorge? Then you can catch the train in Champ du Moulin in about 10 minutes by foot. It runs every half an hour during the day.
But now we continue in the direction of Boudry. This takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. However, this part is very worthwhile. The Areuse Gorge is really wild once again. In addition, orchids can be observed, especially in May.
In Boudry you can take the train back to Neuchâtel. Did you arrive by car and want to return to Noiraigue? Then you have to go to Bole to get back in 12 minutes without changing trains.
Conclusion Areuse Gorge
The hike in the Areuse Gorge (Gorges de l’Areuse) is one of the most beautiful gorge hikes in Switzerland. You’ll see a lot, from floodplain landscapes to the wild river and the unforgettable stone bridge in this part of Val de Travers. You can also enjoy a meal at the restaurant “La Truite” in Champ du Moulin if you like fish.
Especially on weekends, there can be a lot of people. That’s why an early arrival is highly recommended. Or come to the Areuse Gorge during the week. Furthermore, on hot days, the gorge is one of the best destinations.
Also recommended is the approximately six-hour hike via Gorges de l’Areuse to the Creux du Van. However, this hike is demanding and requires a good level of fitness. Alternatively, you can visit the Gorge and then drive up to the Creux du Van. If you are looking for more destinations to visit in the vicinity, then we recommend to check out the Lac de Joux.