70 ViaFrancigena
70 ViaFrancigena
70 ViaFrancigena
70 ViaFrancigena

Hiking

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ViaFrancigena

Stage 2, Ste-Croix–Orbe

Route report
48 photos

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ViaFrancigena

From the high Jura plateau of Sainte-Croix, the trail descends steeply on the historic salt road to the Jura plain. It runs through fields, forests and wine-growing regions on flat terrain, passing authentic villages and medieval churches to reach the day’s destination in Orbe.
Sainte-Croix in the Vaud Jura is easy to reach by narrow-gauge railway. In the 19th century, this was the global centre of music box production. Modern-day visitors can admire the historic collection at the Centre International de Mécanique d’Art (CIMA) on guided tours. Until Vuiteboeuf, the stage follows the historic salt road (Via Salina), which reaches its high point some way beyond Le Château. But first comes the hard work: the first section of about two kilometres runs along a main road, making the view of Lake Neuchâtel even more beautiful. After about an hour, hikers reach one of the most significant preserved medieval road systems in Switzerland. The longest cart track of its time can still be found in the dense beech forest on the steep descent. Thanks to the channels carved into the Jura limestone, the muleteers were able to drive their salt-laden ox carts over the steep terrain until the 19th century. In 2014, the historic salt road was turned into an educational trail. Information boards tell the story of this important traffic artery between France and Switzerland dating back to the 13th century.

After the steep descent on a narrow forest path, the route runs on mostly flat terrain through the sweeping agricultural land of the Jura plain. From the village of Vuiteboeuf with 500 inhabitants where waggoners once changed their horses, it skirts the forest at the foot of the “Rapilles de Baulmes” cliff. The sound of chirping birds now replaces the engine noise heard on the historic section near the road. After just under an hour, the trail reaches the little village of Baulmes. It leaves the Jura chain behind, crossing huge arable fields and passing by cattle herds and farms. After almost an hour-and-a-half, it reaches Switzerland’s oldest controlled wine-growing area: the Côtes de l’Orbe. Between the wine villages of Rances and Valeyres-sous-Rances, the path winds its way through the vineyards and down the southern slope. The view from the church of Saint-Jacques (14/15th century) above Valeyres-sous-Rances sweeps across the gently rolling hills of the Côtes de l’Orbe to Lake Geneva in the distance. An even older church, probably from the 10th century, can be found in Montcherand. The walls inside this Cluniac place of worship are adorned by the oldest figurative frescos in Switzerland.

In the final part of the stage, hikers leave the wide trail at the hydroelectric power station in Montcherand and enter a dense forest traversed by narrow paths. Crossing the Orbe Gorge (Gorges de l’Orbe) over a small suspension bridge is an impressive experience. After hiking along the little river Orbe for just under an hour, we reach the small medieval town of the same name. Besides the old town, it’s well worth visiting the palace square on a hill with its round tower built in 1233. The view from up here stretches across the Plaine de l’Orbe to Mont Blanc.
From the high Jura plateau of Sainte-Croix, the trail descends steeply on the historic salt road to the Jura plain. It runs through fields, forests and wine-growing regions on flat terrain, passing authentic villages and medieval churches to reach the day’s destination in Orbe.
Sainte-Croix in the Vaud Jura is easy to reach by narrow-gauge railway. In the 19th century, this was the global centre of music box production. Modern-day visitors can admire the historic collection at the Centre International de Mécanique d’Art (CIMA) on guided tours. Until Vuiteboeuf, the stage follows the historic salt road (Via Salina), which reaches its high point some way beyond Le Château. But first comes the hard work: the first section of about two kilometres runs along a main road, making the view of Lake Neuchâtel even more beautiful. After about an hour, hikers reach one of the most significant preserved medieval road systems in Switzerland. The longest cart track of its time can still be found in the dense beech forest on the steep descent. Thanks to the channels carved into the Jura limestone, the muleteers were able to drive their salt-laden ox carts over the steep terrain until the 19th century. In 2014, the historic salt road was turned into an educational trail. Information boards tell the story of this important traffic artery between France and Switzerland dating back to the 13th century.

After the steep descent on a narrow forest path, the route runs on mostly flat terrain through the sweeping agricultural land of the Jura plain. From the village of Vuiteboeuf with 500 inhabitants where waggoners once changed their horses, it skirts the forest at the foot of the “Rapilles de Baulmes” cliff. The sound of chirping birds now replaces the engine noise heard on the historic section near the road. After just under an hour, the trail reaches the little village of Baulmes. It leaves the Jura chain behind, crossing huge arable fields and passing by cattle herds and farms. After almost an hour-and-a-half, it reaches Switzerland’s oldest controlled wine-growing area: the Côtes de l’Orbe. Between the wine villages of Rances and Valeyres-sous-Rances, the path winds its way through the vineyards and down the southern slope. The view from the church of Saint-Jacques (14/15th century) above Valeyres-sous-Rances sweeps across the gently rolling hills of the Côtes de l’Orbe to Lake Geneva in the distance. An even older church, probably from the 10th century, can be found in Montcherand. The walls inside this Cluniac place of worship are adorned by the oldest figurative frescos in Switzerland.

In the final part of the stage, hikers leave the wide trail at the hydroelectric power station in Montcherand and enter a dense forest traversed by narrow paths. Crossing the Orbe Gorge (Gorges de l’Orbe) over a small suspension bridge is an impressive experience. After hiking along the little river Orbe for just under an hour, we reach the small medieval town of the same name. Besides the old town, it’s well worth visiting the palace square on a hill with its round tower built in 1233. The view from up here stretches across the Plaine de l’Orbe to Mont Blanc.
21 km
320 m | 900 m
5 h 20 min
easy (hiking trail) | difficult

Arrival | return travel

Arrival / return travel Ste-Croix
SBB Timetable Show stop and route on map

More …

Ascent Ste-Croix
336
Ascent Ste-Croix
Rail, bus, boat recommendation
Ste-Croix–Yverdon-les-Bains
or
Yverdon-les-Bains–Ste-Croix
Reason: metres in height saved approx. 650m.
SBB Timetable

Arrival | return travel

Arrival / return travel Orbe
SBB Timetable Show stop and route on map

Contact

Signpost management
Signposting is managed by the cantonal hiking trail organisation on behalf of the canton. Lend a hand by becoming a member in your canton.
Become a member
Vaud Rando
Place Grand-St-Jean 2
1003 Lausanne
contact@vaud-rando.ch
www.vaud-rando.ch

Services

Accommodation

Chambres d’hôtes Grangette Bellevue
Chambres d’hôtes Grangette Bellevue
Sainte-Croix
BnB Les Replans
BnB Les Replans
Ste-Croix
Hôtel de France
Hôtel de France
Ste-Croix
BnB Les Rasses
BnB Les Rasses
Les Rasses
Grand Hôtel des Rasses
Grand Hôtel des Rasses
Les Rasses
Hotel et Restaurant des Mosaïques
Hotel et Restaurant des Mosaïques
Orbe
Hôtel Restaurant Au Chasseur
Hôtel Restaurant Au Chasseur
Orbe
TCS Camping Orbe
TCS Camping Orbe
Orbe
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Bookable offers

70 ViaFrancigena North
70 ViaFrancigena North
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Places

Sainte-Croix / Les Rasses
Sainte-Croix / Les Rasses
Orbe
Orbe
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Places of interest

CIMA Museum
CIMA Museum
Vuiteboeuf–Ste-Croix
Vuiteboeuf–Ste-Croix
Mosaïques romaines d’Orbe-Boscéaz
Mosaïques romaines d’Orbe-Boscéaz
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Signalization

Signalization
For hiking, follow the logo indicated on the yellow signposts. Take a printout of our web map on your hike for safety's sake.
Signalization