Europe: Saint-Cergue

Adam Driscoll's Blog - Mon, 17-Oct-16 12:41

For the first two weeks in Switzerland we spent our time in Saint-Cergue. It’s about 10 km from Lake Geneva and Nyon. It was a beautiful introduction to the mountains. Saint-Cergue is nestled among the Jura range that runs on the west side Switzerland. Saint-Cergue is close to tons of hiking trails, ski runs and about 8 km from the French border.

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Our accommodations were simple but were all we needed. The town itself has a small grocery store, plenty of places to buy fresh bakery and a beer. There’s a burger place in town, Rando Burger, that offers a great selection of burgers and beer. Nearly everything in town closes around lunchtime and sometime in the early evening. Finding anything after around 7 PM might be tricky. The town itself is positioned right off a train line you can catch in Nyon. The Nyon train station connects to the main system that can carry you from Zurich to Geneva and beyond. It was about 9 euro for the trip up the mountain.

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The trails into the Jura are extensive. You could walk for days through the cow pastures of the local farmers.

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There are little cafes hidden on the summits of some of the mountains throughout the area that offer food and drink but like much of the rest of the area, they close quite early so plan ahead. Cows walk freely along the side of the mountains in the entire area. There are beautiful jingling bells everywhere.  It’s almost magical walking amongst the cattle in the fields as they graze. The only care you need to have is to make sure you don’t step in the cow pies smattering the area. All the trails in the area are well marked and in good shape for both hiking and running.

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We had the luck of being in town when the de-alping of the cows was taking place. The local farms dress up both themselves and the cows in all kinds of fancy dress and bring them down the mountain. Cows come right through the center of town wearing large flower headdresses and extra-large bells. The entire town and surrounding area comes out to celebrate. There are food stands, log throwing competitions and plenty of beer to drink. By around noon all the cows have come through and the party winded down by around 6 PM (except for the beer tent).

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We took a hike to La Dôle which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area. The trail was steep at times but not too difficult for anyone with a few hikes under their belt. Trails were well marked and a large weather station is present on the summit so it’s easy to spot your destination as you go. We were joined by many other hikers as we went. The view was worth the elevation gained.

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Biking in the area is fun but can be challenging. The roads are narrow so you will need to be comfortable with cars passing you quite closely. Most drivers are very considerate and will wait for a safe gap in traffic to pass you. Be careful of motorcycles coming up and down the mountain on some of the tighter turns as they see the traffic lines as an optional guideline. Climbing up the mountain isn’t too steep but the duration of the climb becomes taxing for anyone that hasn’t spent a good deal of time climbing the switchbacks. It took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to make it from Nyon to Saint-Cergue in the most direct route. Most frequently I would climb from Arzier instead of going directly from Nyon since it was less steep and had less traffic.

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Next stop: Geneva.

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