The Pays d’Enhaut is idyllically situated in the Alpes Vaudoises, a mountain range in west Switzerland. The villages located within this beautiful region are Château-d’Oex, Rougemont and Rossinière. Each of these villages has a unique atmosphere, but they also have some things in common. Just think of the wooden chalets popping up in the streets, the traditional cheese making process and the Golden Pass panoramic train passing through. In this blog post, I will tell you everything I’ve learnt about this region during our last vacation.
Villages rich in history
Rougemont is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland and I can definitely see why! The wooden chalets in this village, with their facades either carved or painted, are often centuries old. Rougemont has preserved its architectural heritage in a way that’s quite unique. The first thing that will probably catch your attention, however, is the picturesque church dating back to the 11th century.
If you want to be sure you don’t miss any cute corner in Rougemont, you can follow a signposted walking route (‘In the footsteps of the past with Louis Saugy’). It’s a short walk (1,5 km), leading you from the tourist office through the heart of this alpine village. The walk is named after Louis Saugy, who was once a postman in Rougemont. He was inspired by the beautifully decorated houses and started to make artworks out of paper.
If you’re interested in paleontology, I would definitely recommend to visit the minerals and fossil museum in Rougemont. The museum is located in the cellars of the Rougemont town hall. It’s pretty small, but houses a collection of over 2000 minerals and fossils. Chances are high you don’t even notice the museum by passing by, yet it’s worth a visit.
Traditional cheese making process
In the Pays d’Enhaut region, you can learn about the history of cheese making in various places. I decided to go to the restaurant ‘Le Chalet‘ in Château-d’Oex. Here, you can sit back and enjoy traditional meals just as raclette and fondue while watching cheese making demonstrations. As you can see in the pictures, the cheese is made in a traditional way on a wood fire, just as it is done in the alpine chalets high up in the mountains. There is also a shop at the restaurant, where you can buy cheese and other regional products.
Another cheese being produced in the Pays d’Enhaut region is l’Etivaz AOP, a hard summer cheese made in alpine farms. Or as the Swiss describe it themselves: fromage d’alpage au feu de bois. When the traditional production process is completed, the cheeses are stored in the cellars of the village Etivaz. You will come across this village while driving towards the mountain pass ‘Col des Mosses’. The cellars and the shop can be visited all year round.
Golden Pass Line
The Golden Pass railway line has a total distance of 191 km and runs from Lucerne in the Bernese Oberland to Montreux, located at Lake Geneva. The trains running on this railway line are going straight through the Pays d’Enhaut region. Therefore, the villages of Rossinière, Château d’Oex and Rougemont are perfect starting points for your daytrip with the Golden Pass. From Château d’Oex, for example, it’s only a one hour train ride to go to Montreux. It is recommended to order your tickets in advance and to make a seat reservation, especially in the summer season. Click here to go directly to the website of the railway company MOB, responsible for the Golden Pass line.
Hiking in nature
The Pays d’Enhaut region has a rich cultural heritage, that’s for sure. But the region also has a lot to offer for outdoor enthusiasts, thanks to its location in the Alpes Vaudoises. Whether you opt for a challenging hike in the mountains or a shorter walk in the valley, you will certainly be amazed by the natural beauty along the way.
A hiking trail I would definitely recommend is the one to the Ramaclé waterfall. It’s a relatively short hike starting in the village of Château-d’Oex. Before reaching the waterfall, you will first cross the Saane river by walking over a suspension bridge. Built in 1883, Pont Turrian is the oldest suspension bridge in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It is possible to do this hike with a stroller, just as we did. But please keep in mind that there are some steep climbs so it’s not always so easy. Click here to view the full hiking route, with maps and practical information.
International Hot-Air Balloon Festival
Each year in January, Château-d’Oex hosts the International Hot Air Balloon Festival, attracting visitors from all over the world. In 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones left Château-d’Oex with the Breitling Orbiter to make a non-stop balloon flight around the world. They succeeded and so, Chateau d’Oex became known as the alpine capital of hot air ballooning. If you want to learn more about this expedition and about the history of ballooning, be sure to visit ‘L’Espace Ballon’. A hot air balloon flight in the Alps is really high on my bucket list so one day I will definitely return to Chateau d’Oex to make this dream come true.
Places to stay in the Pays d’Enhaut region
There’s a wide range of accommodation options in the Pays d’Enhaut region, from rustic hotels in the village centers to guest rooms on local farms. We stayed in ‘les Mourriaux’, an apartment on the ground floor of a mountain chalet. The owners live in the other part of the chalet, running a dairy farm in daily life. They gave us the chance to taste some of the local cheeses, which are made with the milk of their cows. One side of the house is overlooking the village of Chateau d’Oex while the other side is offering views of the grean alpine meadows. Here, you really hear nothing, except of the peaceful sound of the cow bells. What a great place to stay! Click here if you want to check availability and prices.