Although we all have cars, we prefer to use the incredible public transportation available in Switzerland. From Lausanne (located 50 minutes by train from Geneva) we took the train along the shores of Lac Léman to Vevey (near Montreux). There is a bus at the train station going uphill to the charming town of Châtel-St. Denis where we caught another bus ride for a short ride even more uphill to Les Paccots (in fact, it’s a ski resort in winter). Then the feet went into action. Firstly, up to the Lac des Joncs and the first course of the meal at the Auberge by the lake. This was a starter served on a wooden plank filled with local cheeses (made in the pastures) and regional cold meats such as sausages and dried beef.
OK, that was not too difficult. But then it was a little downhill and then a lot of uphill to the first summit, Borbuitze and La Cagne continuing upwards even more to the summit of Le Pralet. Following the signs to Col-de-Lys, we arrived at Paccots-Dessus (translated into the HIGH part of Les Paccots)! Happily we found the Buvette de Saletta (alpine hut) where we were served a delicious Soupe de chalet which contains potatoes, onions, wild spinach, nettles (yes, nettles!), fresh milk, cornette pasta, Gruyère cheese, fresh cream and bacon. It was not too far to walk to the next alpine inn, the Buvette du Vuipay where a large plate of home-made macaroni with fresh cream sauce and Gruyère cheese was waiting. These are the times when my gal pals and I start chatting while we relish the regional specialties. Furthermore, we already know that it’s downhill from here! Descending via Vuipey-Dessous and La Cuva we arrive at Les Paccots village centre at Les Rosalys where the bus stop is located. Our final “degustation” which will be at the Restaurant Les Rosalys will be ice cream with a local spiced pear wine sauce. This dessert was not nearly as rich and heavy an ending to the Gourmet Trail as the meringue with double cream that we had last year! Yes, feeling exercised, “oxygenated” and renewed, we walked across the street to the bus stop for the return to the Vevey train station and the train ride through the Lavaux vineyards back to Lausanne.
On the way home, we planned our next guilt-free eating hike and other excursions in the Canton of Fribourg. See what you’d like to do by getting ideas from this video showing the highlights of this very diverse region of Switzerland.
Office du tourisme: Châtel-St.-Denis (www.les-paccots.ch)
Always call first or check the website for weather or other natural causes there may have made parts of the trails inaccessible. During June and September only, there are no Gourmet Trail programs on Mondays and Thursdays. From July to August, they are daily. (You can go and hike in Les Paccots on your own anytime summer or winter with snowshoes or skis).
HOW TO GET THERE
From the Swiss Riviera, the French speaking region around Lake Geneva and the larger cities such as Geneva, Lausanne, and Montreux as well as dozens of picturesque villages tucked away in the sloped vineyards that border the lake on the Swiss side, you can take a train to Vevey and then catch a bus at the train station to Châtel-St-Denis and then change buses for a short ride up to Les Paccots. Remember that the last bus from Les Paccots is 7:00 PM!
The train roundtrip fare from Lausanne is approximately CHF 22.- but most residents and tourists have some kind of half off rail pass if not a Swiss or Eurail pass.
ITINERARIES AND PRICES
For 6 or more persons, reservations are required at the tourist office. Tickets are available at the Montresux-Riviera Tourist office, Châtel-St-Denis Tourist office, participating restaurants and alpine huts
Sentier Panoramique (Panaoramic Trail) 4 hours, 13 km (8 miles) CHF 36.- adults
Sentier des Bûcherons (Logger’s Trail) 3.5 hours, 9 km (5.56 miles CHF 28.- adults
Sentier Petit Gourmand (Little Gourmet Trail) 1 hour, 5 km (3.1 miles) CHF 26.- adults
Sentier Famille (Family Trail) 2.5 hours, 7 km (4.35) CHF 23.- adults
CHF 16.- 12 years and under
WHAT TO TAKE
Clothes layers: Rain /wind Jacket, pullover, tank top, waterproof hiking pants/ shorts, hat with a brim
Good hiking boots and perhaps gators as you can encounter unexpected mud in the darker areas of the forest
Day pack with water, snacks (Ok, you will eat in the huts but just in case!) sunscreen, personal needs, small first aid kit with blister patches, camera.
A member of the Swiss Alpine Club, hiking is one of Sonja Holverson’s activities. She hikes all year in the Pre-Alps and nearby steep-sloped vineyards along the shores of Lake of Geneva where she lives, and then higher up in the higher Alps when some of the snow melts. Sonja is always ready for what’s next and you will find her with snow shoes and gaiters as well as high heels and fancy clothes stashed in her car. In summer, she switches to her well-worn beloved hiking boots and swimming gear and carries with her in all seasons, a passion for discovery and storytelling. She’s published academic, journalist, and travel writing for various publishers and websites. She may be followed on Twitter @SonjaSwissLife and has recently gone live on her website www.bySonja.com but it is still “under construction”- her lifelong philosophy.