From fromagerie to fromagerie in the Neuchâtel Jura

A cheese subscription is brilliant - the best thing for hikers is to go directly to the production site to pick up a few pieces of cheese themselves. To the place where, for example, "Le Forestier", "Britchon", "Major Benoit" and "Bleuchâtel" from our Tour de Suisse Neuchâtel cheese box are made. Join us on a hike in the beautiful canton of Neuchâtel and visit the two cheese dairies Fromagerie Les Martel (in Les Ponts-de-Martel) and Fromagerie des Sagnettes (in Sagnettes). A hiking report by Jürg Studer. 

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Fromagerie Sagnettes in Sagnettes - starting point of the hike
Towards the end of early spring, the train and then the Postbus take me to Les Sagnettes. The closer I get, the less populated the landscape becomes. A few farms with typical Jura houses are scattered far apart in the north-western part of Neuchâtel. And I almost miss the exit on the line from Fleurier to La Brévine. There are three buildings at the post bus station "Les Sagnettes, anc. poste". One is the Fromagerie Sagnettes. Because I want to spice up my lunch at Philippe Geinoz first and buy a piece of "Le Forestier" and a "Le Britchon" and learn a few interesting facts about cheese production from the cheesemaker himself.

The hike begins
Then we really get going. After 200 meters, you can leave the main road, which has little traffic, and then head north-east along mostly natural roads. To the left is the steeply rising forest to Mont Brenin, one of the higher mountains in the Val-de-Travers - to my right the long Jura hill range on the opposite slope, which today is only visible in the haze. The fact that you can only see the cow pastures and the individual trees or rows of trees from close up on this awakening spring day in this long valley has its own special charm. And with a bit of luck, the weather has cleared up considerably over the course of the day. At the beginning of April, there is probably no more snow in the Runsen either. Instead, you can still hear birds whistling and chirping, their song not drowned out by the noise of cars. Pure tranquillity in Le Gruyère AOP country! The Val-de-Travers, a crossroads between the Swiss Mittelland and the free county of Burgundy, also got its name from this. Traverstal was its former German name.

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The highest point of the hike is reached
At Crêt du Vent, after just under 1 ½ hours, the highest point is reached at 1260 m above sea level. If the ascent was not continuous, the descent is not even either. The difference in altitude on this hike is spread over the entire route. Nine peaks can be reached by gently ascending and then descending again, so that the difference in altitude of over 1,000 m is hardly noticeable until you reach the end in the district of Le Locle. Both the hiking trail and the farm track are mostly covered with the typical yellowish Jura limestone. Whether on the path or on the verges, the hike is very pleasant. Everywhere there are opportunities to rest by the wayside, take a shortcut or break off the tour. But be careful: you can't "cross the forest", there are numerous rocky ledges!

Fromagerie Les Martel - the destination of the hike
The destination is Les Ponts-de-Martel, a municipality that has only gained more inhabitants in the last 20 years after 120 years of population decline. Here I want to visit the Fromagerie Les Martel, the second cheese dairy. The route leads through the small village at the back of the village, which was once dominated by the watchmaking industry. This cheese dairy is larger and its visitors' gallery is open from 5 p.m., giving an insight into the cheese-making process. Above all, I want to stock up on "Bleuchâtel" and "Major Benoît" before heading home, as it was for them that I had planned the hike. After the wonderful hike, the question inevitably arises: travel home by post bus or train or stay overnight in the local bed and breakfast (BnB Switzerland)? by Jürg Studer.

The most important facts in brief
4:34 h, 16.45 km, 575m up, 646m down. A hike with several gentle ascents and descents across alpine meadows with views of the Jura heights. Hiking route available via this link or the following QR code:

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