Gorge de L’Areuse – Fairytale Walk in Neuchâtel

❖ Length – 11km one-way with return by train

❖ Three hours needed at least plus ten minutes for train return

❖ Toilets at start and end and middle in hotel restaurant

❖ Restaurant in the middle – Champ Du Moulins. Picnic spots throughout and fire places by the river.

❖ Family friendly for older children or young children if they are carried in a proper carrier. Not stroller friendly.

The Areuse Gorge has to be one of the most beautiful riverside walks I have done to date. It’s not as daring or thrilling as some of the gorges we have explored since moving here, but it definitely is one of the most beautiful and tranquil. I particularly like it as no matter how warm it is, the gorge always has a little breeze flowing through it and is mainly shaded, making it a great place for family outings away from the sun. 

The most photographed parts of the walk has to be the famous ‘Saut De Brot’ bridge, which honestly looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. It reminded me of Rivendell and fairy tales. The hike is relatively long, around 11km one-way, but you can return to the start by train and the time passes quickly with all the surroundings to distract you. Plus, it is well signposted, just follow the yellow walking signs dotted about the path. 

At the half way point, at Champ Du Moulin, there’s a little restaurant serving classic Swiss fare, should you prefer a sit down meal to a picnic. If the latter is more appealing, there are plenty of places to stop from traditional benches to little coves by the river where you will see many people making little fire pits and having a lunchtime barbecue en route. 

I highly recommend parking and starting the hike at Noiraigues railway station and ending at Boudry. This way you see the whole route and also get to take the train back easily to where you have parked. Alternatively, we have also started before at Champ Du Moulin, parked there and then walked to Boudry before turning round and heading back to the car. This is a harder route as you have to walk uphill on the return and trust me, there are a lot of steps! Especially when you have a little one strapped to the front of your chest. You will also miss the Saut De Brot bridge by doing this route, but I personally think that the gorges and riverside are the most scenic after Champ Du Moulin anyway. 

There’s little man-made Weirs along the route, to please people who love a little waterfall, and some beautifully designed bridges and crossings. I would recommend arriving early if you want a peaceful wander. We started the walk at 10am and it was relatively deserted on a Sunday. By the time we headed back to the car at 1pm there were plenty of people and lots of waiting to pass on the steps. 

It is an easy hike, which will take you around three hours if you don’t stop. It is family and young children friendly, however at times there are a lot of steps or narrow passes so you want to keep them close and have those not too steady on their feet in a carrier at times. It isn’t stroller friendly. 

There are bathrooms at the stations and the restaurant hotel midway. Parking at the stations was free when we did the walk. If you take the train from Bole back to Noiraigues, it’s direct, takes ten minutes and just means a short walk for you from the end of the trail to the station. If you go from Boudry, you need to make one change. The tickets are around six francs one way per adult. 

Our top tips for the walk:

  1. If the weather has been bad recently, perhaps give it a miss as it can be muddy and slippy.
  2. The route has some steep ladders which when going down can be tricky for little ones.
  3. If you mainly want to see the Saut De Brot bridge, then park at Champ Du Moulins and walk 2km to the bridge, and then return back to your car.
  4. To return without the train will take you around six hours and be a 22km walk
  5. Parking is free, but spaces can be quickly taken up during the day so try to get there early. Also helps with the weather situation!
  6. The easiest route is from Noiraigue down to Boudry, if you do it the other way around the whole hike is uphill.

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

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