Gorges de la Covatanne

Useful Information

Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: GorgeGorge
Light: n/a
Guided tours:
Address: Gorges de la Covatanne.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



The Gorges de la Covatanne is the connection between the plateau of Sainte-Croix at almost 1,100 m asl to the Schweizer Mittelland at 600 m asl. The gorge was cut by the small river Arnon. It must be visited by foot, the trail is about seven kilometers long and well developed. The trip takes about 1.5 hours downhill, but 2.5 hours uphill, so generally the gorge is visited only downhill. There is public transport both at Sainte-Croix and Vuitebœuf.

There is also the possibility to ascend from Vuitebœuf station to Grange dela Côte and Le Château on the chemin historique (historic trail). This is a part of the old Via Salina (Salt Road) from the salines at Arc-et-Senans to Bern. The steep escarpment was a big problem for the heavy carts and so the road was equipped with rails, parallel trenches cut into the rock for the wheels of the carts, so they could not escape and leave the road. Those Trassees (rail-roads) were used between the 14th and 18th century, before the carts had breaks. Without breaks the carts were slowed downhill by blocking the wheels with chains. With blocked wheels the cart was behaving like a sledge and often left the road, so the rails were essential.

The gorge was too narrow for a road, so probably this way would have been used for the salt. Today there is comfortable trail starting at the sewage works. During the Bronze Age it was much less accessible, but nevertheless remains of man were found in the Grotte de la grande Poule in the middle of the gorge. Right south of Le Château is a vertical cliff into the gorge. In the middle of this cliff face is the opening of a cave, the resurgence of a cave river which forms an impressive waterfall right after it leaves the cave. This is the Source du Vertige (vertigo spring). At the foot of the spring the water deposits tufa, a soft and porous limestone. This rock was quarried during the Middle Ages and the remains of the quarrying can still be seen along the trail. The rocks from here were used for the castles of Grandson, Yverdon, Orbe and Champvent.