Val de Travers
The Val de Tavers is characterised by the watch industry and extends from Lake Neuenburg across the Jura all the way to the French border. Asphalt mines and the rock circus of the Creux du Van are features of the Val de Tavers as are a sparkling wine production and steam trains. However, the valley's secret star is the «Grüne Fee» (green fairy).
The production of absinthe schnapps - also called «green fairy» - was prohibited for over 90 years until 2005. The popular cure-all schnaps made by two sisters at the end of the 18th century is currently experiencing a bit of a revival. Local museums provide a lot of information about absinthe production and watch-making, the most important economic pillar of the valley.
For almost 300 years until 1986 asphalt was being mined in the Tavers Valley and exported all over the world. This led to the creation of an underground labyrinth consisting of passages and galleries which can be visited with an experienced guide. Ham cooked in asphalt is a culinary speciality of the region. Another surprising feature is the biggest sparkling wine production plant in Switzerland located in the spacious cellars of the former Benedictine monastery of St. Pierre in Môtiers.
The landscape of the Val de Travers is characterised by pine forests, precipitous chalk formations, Jura hills and nature preserves with a varied range of possibilities for walks and visits. «Métaries», old mountain farms which have been turned into mountain guesthouses, are perfect for hikers to take a break, eat and drink. The gorges of Poëta-Raisse, the grottos of Môtiers and the course of the Areuse River are an expression of the power of water exerted through the centuries and leading to the creation of narrow passages through the rocks. Saint-Sulpice is home to an eco museum devoted to the theme of water-power.
The famous philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived in Môtiers, the capital of the valley, from 1762 to 1765 before being driven away by the valley's inhabitants and fled to the Island of St. Peter. His former home is a museum today. Other selected attractions of the Tavers Valley include steam trips during summer weekends and in winter the many cross-country skiing tracks on the Jura hills.