Hiking with kids: Sentier des Monts

Why does it seem to me that every time my husband gets involved into planning our hike, it ends with a catastrophe else as planned? (do you remember our recent hike to Buochserhorn where we were crossing the rocks?). It was quite similar this time. Originally, I planned to take the funicular to Mont Soleil, hike about 6 kilometers to Mont Crosin via the Sentier des Monts trail, and then take the bus to take us back to the valley. And at no later than at 3 o’clock lying somewhere in the nearest outdoor swimming pool. Well, I think it’s already clear to you that it was completely different! :O We finally hiked 13 kilometers and we got to the swimming pool at about 5:30! But…wait for it…

Getting there

The starting point for this trip is the town of Saint-Imier, located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, in the Jura Bernois area, about 70 kilometers north of Bern. The former farm village has changed since the beginning of the 19th century to the center of the watchmaking industry (home of the famous Longines).

The valley station of Mont Soleil funicular, which has been operating since 1903, is located at Rue de Roches 31. Just outside the station, there are not many parking places, we left the car in the adjacent Rue Paul-Charmillot.

The fare on Mont Soleil costs 4.60 CHF, respectively. 2.80CHF with your Halb-fare card. The funicular runs every half an hour and the timetable can be found here. Tickets are bought in the slot machine and are checked right up at the exit of the funicular.

Sentier des Monts Trail

Sentier des Monts is a 4.5 km long learning trail that introduces visitors to the use of renewable energy in the Jura region. Along the trail, you will find about 20 boards with interesting information on this topic.

After leaving the funicular, we headed up (past the Le Manoir Restaurant) to Mont Crosin.

After about a kilometer, we reached the Astronomical Observatory, open to the public since 2002. Next to it is the Mont-Soleil solar power plant, which was launched in 1992 and is one of the largest research plants of its kind in Switzerland.

Here, we also encountered the learning trail´s information board. Our older son has at least deepened his newly acquired knowledge from George’s secret key to the universe he has recently read and which has totally captured him.

Close to the Observatory, there is also a picnic area with a shelter, where you can even find a refrigerator with the cooled drinks.

We continued to the left and after a few dozen meters of the forest path, we reached almost the pillar of the wind plant. From here was a beautiful outlook, we even saw it up to the highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc (the picture is not clear, but we did really see it despite the light haze! :)).

Then the trail went on – here the view of the wind plants pillars opened, and we also met other information boards of the learning trail.

Again, a little physics lesson was waiting for us at another resting place. The little carousel that we normally see on playgrounds was not just “normal”. How quickly do you light the 60-watt bulb by spinning the carousel?

At another signpost, my husband suggested (yes, it is here!) that instead of following straight the trail to Mont Crosin, we could turn left and make a kind of loop. It’s not that much longer … Well, huh, you probably know the sequel. The route started to prolong a bit, and there was no place in the meadows and pastures where we could hide from the sun (it is clear that the wind plants aren´t built in the forest, right? 😉 ). When we arrived at Chalet Mont-Crosin, of course, we missed the bus. And the next one was coming in more than an hour (timetable here). After a little refreshment in the restaurant, my husband decided once again that waiting an hour for the next bus does not make sense and we could hike down instead. Because it’s not so far … (!!!).

So from Chalet Mont-Crosin, we headed for Villeret following the tourist sign. At first, it was a wide path, which unexpectedly turned left into bushes and steeply down. Fortunately, it was only a short stretch. Then the path was resembling our recent Velka Javorina hike. I do not have to say that the bus has long gone into the valley, and we were still on our way. Because from Villeret, it’s still a long way to Saint-Imier.

The only thing that can be attributed to my husband is that the whole route was downhill.

Swimming pool Gerlafingen

We promised our children that we would go to the swimming pool as the ending of this trip. Although it was just for a while (that’s when you arrives at the swimming pool at half past 6 and they close at 7), but we still enjoyed it at the swimming pool in nearby Gerlafingen. Mainly because there is a water slide on which our youngest could also ride with my husband (haha, it was a kind of punishment for him :D). I think I’ll definitely put this pool on the list of local pools I have fallen in love with.

Summary

  • The original trail was 6km long (of which the Sentier des Monts trail is 4.5km long). We finally hiked 13km.
  • If you follow the original trail, it is suitable for strollers (do not worry about the pictures from the fence right at the beginning – it can be bypassed).
  • You can also take a stroller to the funicular.
  • When you approach Saint-Imier from Biel, you will drive through Courtelary. Here, on the way back, stop at the CHEZ Camille Bloch chocolate factory.

 

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