Walk from Leysin to Les Fers

The weather has not been good this week – rain showers throughout the day, but sunny periods too. On Monday we did a car trip, so did not hike. On Tuesday we were in a lazy mood, so just went out for a lovely lunch in Leysin, bought a bunch of French magazines and watched the rain from the apartment. In the evening we had drinks with our upstairs neighbors – four Brits on holiday for the week. The bad weather is supposed to clear on Friday and then we go back to sunshine and temperatures in the 70s.

Today I wanted to be up on the mountains and did not care about the rain. When we headed out, around 11am, it was sunny, but had been sunny then raining then sunny all morning. It was cool – in the 50s – so we bundled up with polartec sweaters, rain coats and long pants.

We did an easy walk from the house, up the hillside to the Les Fers restaurant. The walk up was 1hr, 30min and down was 1hr, 15min. Elevation gain 400 meters. The walk up was perfect. We got rained on only for a few minutes. Sometimes it was sunny, sometimes we were walking through clouds. The view down to Leysin and the valley below changed minute by minute. You would see the sun on Leysin, then the valley would fill with clouds. The wildflowers are out in full force and were beautiful. We had lunch at Restaurant Chalet des Fers, then walked back down in a drizzle that turned into a pouring rain.

Looking down to Leysin
Looking down to Leysin and the valley behond from the hike to Les Fers

We took the trail up (steeper) and the road back (easier). From the road above our chalet in the Les Esserts section of Leysin, near the big hotel, you can go left to follow the road or right to follow the trail. The trail up was easy and my legs are fully recovered from Saturday’s downhill hike. Good to know that I did not permanently damage my knees! I was reading my blog entries from September 2003 when we were in Gstaad, to see which were our favorite hikes, when I realized we did the exact same thing there. Our first hike had a lot of downhill and really hurt. See, I never learn!

The first part was steep and muddy and through a beautiful forest. We must have taken a wrong turn because we ended up at an electric fence which we carefully stepped over and then a barbed wire fence which we carefully crawled under. The trails are not as well marked here as in the Berner Oberland (the German section of Switzerland). In the French section they are a little more carefree and not as concerned with clearly marking the trail. In the German section, at every intersection the signs tell you how long it will take to walk to each destination and the difficulty of the walk. Here the signs are there, mostly, but not always. So, sometimes you end up at a farmer’s fence instead of on the trail.

We rejoined the road for a bit, but only a few cars go up here each day. Then the trail split off from the road again and we climbed higher, through meadows filled with wildflowers, through forests, across small rivers. The weather kept changing on the way up, be we were only rained on for a few minutes. The walk up was 1hr 45min. It was glorious. We both love walking in the mountains in Switzerland.

Restaurant Chalet des Fers
Looking up to Restaurant Chalet des Fers

We arrived at Restaurant Chalet des Fers at 12:45, in the lunch window (noon – 2pm – after that I am not sure what they serve, but they are open). As we walked into the restaurant, the waitress applauded and said “Bravo”! I guess everyone else at lunch had driven up. Talking to her later (Steve talking to her in French) she said the bad weather this week keeps away her lunch time customers – the hikers and bikers – but people drive up for dinner when they have live music. As we sat down, the rain started to pour. Then it turned to hail, then to snow for a few minutes. Snow on July 4! They started the fire going to warm the restaurant.

There were a few other groups having lunch. This restaurant was fabulous! They had a selection of about 10 different salads (perhaps better on a hot day), lots of meat dishes, a rosti with fois gras, and some Swiss dishes. I had a Croute (toast with melted cheese) with a fried egg on top. It was served with pickles and a salad that was the best I have had in a long time (balsamic vinegar dressing, pumpkin and sesame seeds, on fresh dark lettuce).

Steve does not eat cheese like I do, so had a hard time finding something on the menu. The vegetable soup had ham in it, you could not get rosti without the fois gras, he did not want a raw salad. The waitress talked to the cook and he made him a wonderful meal of omelet, french fries and cooked vegetables.

Restaurant Chalet des Fers
Lunch at Restaurant Chalet des Fers

The cost of the lunch was SFr 50.40 (Croute (melted cheese sandwich) with egg – 18.00 | Omelette and fries – 18.00 | Coffee – 2 x 3.20 | Bottled water – 2 x 4.00)

You can drive to this restaurant on a narrow mountain road, but only a few cars passed us on the way down, so it is fine walking along the road. We took the road back down because it was raining and we wanted to take the easier route and avoid the muddy trails. The walk back down was easy but the steady drizzle turned to a downpour. Several very wet people on bikes passed us going downhill. We got back to the chalet in 1hr 15min.

A perfect day. Now we are having a lazy afternoon – oops, it is 7pm! Time to make dinner. It always takes a few days to get used to a new kitchen. I ruined one batch of brown rice, but now can make it perfectly on this stove (which does not have a good simmer setting). I cup brown rice, 2 1/4 cups water, pinch of sea salt, bring to the boil, high simmer for 40 minutes, turn off heat and let sit for 20 more minutes (better is to do a low simmer for 60 minutes). The pot selection is not great, so we bought a very nice deep frying pan, like a chefs pan, with a lid that I use to make our vegetable dishes. I also brought the small pot that we cook rice in with us. It is a very good one that we bought on a trip to Italy years ago when the vacation rental did not have any pots with tight lids.

You can see all the photos from today on Flickr.



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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

3 thoughts on “Walk from Leysin to Les Fers”

  1. Hi beautiful pictures, snow in summer, ugh, though you can’t beat hiking in the mountains and the ever changing weather, it does make for great pics. We too, have been having cold, rainy weather.

  2. Hi Pauline!
    Gorgeous photos, and even with the rain your hike sounded just perfect. Did you say SNOW on JULY 4th?! Yikes. Those Swiss know how to keep things exciting, don’t they? 😀

    Loved the description and photos of your lunch, too. How cool that you were appluaded upon arrival!

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