Have you ever heard about the Vallée de Joux? It is a charming little region in Switzerland which we had never heard of prior to preparing our Europe trip. Let’s be honest, when mentionning Switzerland, Zurich, Geneva, Basel, clocks, chocolate and banks were the first things that came to our minds (yes, we’re full of clichés :p!). Nature wasn’t really something that we automatically associated with Switzerland and this trip deliciously proved us how wrong we were! Let us tell you about this crush we had during our too short stay in the Vallée de Joux.
We arrived in the Vallée de Joux from Geneva, after waking up pretty early and several changes of trains. The more we got away from Geneva, the more we were gaining altitude and the more houses and urban infrastructures were becoming scarce. It is only when passing by many snowy pine forests that we realized how much this trip would be different from city trips we were used to. We were really looking forward to explore the area and when our stop, Esserts-de-Rive, was announced, we just hurried to gather our things to quickly reach the exit. When getting off the train, we were pleased to put our feet in a thick layer of pristine white snow. It was the perfect opportunity to put our cold weather gear, we had bought a few weeks earlier in Decathlon, to the test. Thermal underwear, fleece lined clothes, hats, scarves, gloves and padded boots, we were well equiped and it was a pleasure to walk in the snow and hear it crunch under each of our steps. We aren’t really used to this type of winter in Montpellier where the temperatures are very mild, and although Seb grew up in Grenoble, it was long since he had experienced this kind of weather, we were happy like kids. We got to the Treehouse, the guest house where we would spend the night. Warmly welcomed by Jehan, the owner, we took a few minutes to get to know each other, we talked travels, blogging before going to search for a place to eat.
Following the advice of our host, we went to the Bellevue Hotel-Restaurant that perfectly carries its name since it offers a privileged view of the scenic Lac de Joux. The morning snow had turned into a light rain but this definitely didn’t take away the charm of the place. We sat in the restaurant’s winter garden where the cozy atmosphere was especially highlighted by the fireplace. Our waitress, Jennifer, was very friendly, smiling and pleasant and didn’t hesitate to share with us valuable advices regarding our lunch or activities to do nearby. We chose to blindly trust her and opted for the palée, delicious Lac de Joux fish, and we absolutely didn’t regret it! The white fish was tender, even melting and the various side dishes rightly emphasized its flavors. We won’t lie, eating out in Switzerland is expensive, at least compared to our French standards! We kindly and discreetly gasped when Jehan cheerfully replied, “Oh yeah, you can easily eat for two for less than 100 francs (about $100)!” when we asked him if we could eat for cheap in the area. Yes, it’s a budget. But the good thing is that it implies that the service is perfect and the products, often local, are of excellent quality.
After eating well, a little walk around the Lac de Joux is just perfect to stretch your legs. We went on one of the trails that surround the lake towards the southeast and it was a real pleasure to walk in the middle of the snowy pine forests where there was a peaceful silence. This walk usually takes 45 minutes but it took us 2 hours to reach our destination because of the many compulsory stops to take pictures, shoot videos or just enjoy the moment and enjoy for long minutes these beautiful winter landscapes that were before us. Usually, the Lac de Joux is completely frozen at this time of the year and many people come to practice ice skating on this giant outdoor ice rink, it must be really exceptional to skate in such conditions!
Late in the afternoon, at nightfall, we arrived at the Vallée de Joux Sports Centre where entries to the Wellness area were offered to us. Relaxing in a spa was just what we needed to finish this day in style and we can say that its mission was largely accomplished! For over an hour we peacefully alternated between the sauna and the hammam to finally finish in style by going to splash about in the beautiful outdoor jacuzzi, amazing right? Given the circumstances, we unfortunately couldn’t take pictures but we can tell you that a 99°F open-air jacuzzi during the winter in Switzerland, is definitely not bad! A beautiful experience that we warmly recommend you and the price is not so unreasonable given the place (check our sidebar for more info!). Then we went to eat and, again, we followed the advice of Jehan and we went to the Restaurant du Lac located at Le Pont, at the other end of the Lac de Joux. There, the atmosphere was more stilted than before and we were a bit embarrassed to enter with our backpacks and sporting gears in such a refined place. Again, the prices were quite high for our French standards (around $30 for a dish) but this time, we were pleased to find out that an appetizer and a salad were included in the price, enough to leave with a belly well filled! Seb remained true to his roots and tried the tartare while Nath tried a homemade swiss style cordon bleu and what a delight! Far, far away from the industrial kind we usually have in France, it was made of a generous pork piece wrapped with cheese and bread crumbs, a pure delight to taste absolutely! And having eaten and walked around all day, we were dreaming of one thing, enjoying our room at the Treehouse and especially trying out the jacuzzi!
Yes because in fact we saved the best for last and have intentionally omitted to tell you about our beautiful B&B so far. We had to keep the surprise and wonder intact in the image of what we felt when we entered the room for the first time. If we had to describe our first impressions of the place by a single word it would be without hesitation “Wow!” since the room rented by Jehan and his wife Vanessa is absolutely sublime. Located on the second basement of their home, the spacious and elegantly decorated room really has nothing to envy to the most beautiful hotels. An imposing canopy bed is in a corner of the room right next to a brand new jacuzzi (which we hurried to put to the test when coming in at night!) and a lovely bathroom that features an italian style shower. The large bay window overlooks the Lac de Joux and a small table and chairs buried under the snow made us think it must be pretty nice to have your breakfast there come summer time! Breakfast which also revealed to be gargantuan and was served by Jehan the next morning. It was funny to see him list the origin of the products constituting the meal. It was mostly local, quality products and some were even home-made like Vanessa’s delicious muesli or tasty jams. We really wished we could spend more time in this haven of peace where we felt so well. It was already time to buckle our backpacks and go off to new adventures in the Pays d’Enhaut region…
This article was written as part of a partnership with the Vallée de Joux and Lake Geneva Region Tourist Offices. Nevertheless, any opinion expressed here is our own and has not been subjected to any influence. A big thank you to Lionel and Cédric who helped us set up this amazing relaxing trip!
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