Close to nature. With Aline Hayoz-Andrey in the Vanil Noir Nature Reserve.
To Aline Hayoz-Andrey, everything in nature is connected: plants interact with animals, animals with the soil, the soil with the air.Hiking through mountain meadows, exploring pine forests, passing through Alpine landscapes and seeking new perspectives is her greatest passion.
Vanil Noir Nature Reserve.
Located in the Fribourg region, this beautiful pre-Alpine nature reserve is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Picking plants is only permitted outside the reserve.
Close to nature.
As an environmental engineer and botanist, Aline isn’t just in close contact with nature through her work – it’s also a major part of her private life. So it comes as no surprise that in her free time she enjoys sharing her enthusiasm and knowledge with other nature lovers as a hiking guide. To her, there is no better place to do so than in the Vanil Noir Nature Reserve.
A voyage of discovery with Aline.
Both cooks and nature lovers enjoy embarking on voyages of discovery through the Gruyère region with Aline. Today, amateur chef Nicolas is hiking with her through the beautiful countryside. As a child, he often used to go out collecting herbs and plants with his grandmother – and his interest in bringing nature into the kitchen has remained strong to this day. Being with Aline inspires him to give his dishes a new twist.
Explore. Smell. Pick.
The two of them begin their hike in the lushly vegetated surroundings of Lac de Montsalvens in Charmey. Here they gather some plants, which is not allowed in the nature reserve itself. Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is picked and preserved in bottles with the regional speciality Gruyère double cream. Further along the lake they collect oregano (Origanum vulgare) and stinging nettles (Urtica dioica), adding them to their jute bags. The next stop is the Vanil Noir Nature Reserve.
On a round-the-world trip through the Vanil Noir Nature Reserve.
The area around the Vanil Noir is a place where time stands still. An area that is simply enchanting. The nature reserve, with its pre-Alpine landscape, captivates you with its countless treasures and beauty. The 15km2 area is rich in biodiversity thanks to its uniquely warm and dry climate, lime-rich soil and varying altitudes.
A hike through the Vanil Noir Nature Reserve is almost like a trip around the world: Mediterranean flora can be seen in the valley, while the mountaintops are home to Arctic species of plant. Other rare plants include creeping betony (Stachys pradica), northern dragonhead (Dracocephalum ruyschiana) and the pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis).
With the valleys of Bounavaux and Morteys, the area covers a total of 15 km².
More than 70 types of butterfly inhabit the flower meadows of the Vanil Noir.
The nature reserve is rich in biodiversity – the relatively small area is home to 500 different types of plants.
A fascination with nature.
On their hike, Aline and Nicolas discover countless natural treasures. Nicolas listens with fascination: extraordinarily, stone pines grow in the nature reserve, which is thanks to the microclimate of the Vanil Noir and the spotted nutcracker, a bird that loves feeding on pine nuts and hazelnuts.
Where are the nuts hidden?
In autumn, the spotted nutcracker gathers the pine nuts from pine cones and takes them to its hiding place. It collects roughly 30,000 to 100,000 a year. By the time winter arrives, however, it has forgotten where it has hidden up to 20% of its stash, thereby guaranteeing that stone pines continue to thrive in the Vanil Noir.
The way to the kitchen.
Through lush mountain meadows, past the rugged rock faces and steep gullies of the karst area and with the summit of the Vanil Noir always in your sight. After two hours of hiking, you’re finally there. At 1,868m, the SAC hut Cabane des Marindes sits majestically above the nature reserve, with unique views of the mighty Gastlosen mountain chain and on a clear day stretching as far as the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. It’s not difficult to share Aline’s love for the area.
In the open-air kitchen.
The terrace of the Cabane des Marindes is today’s kitchen for Aline and Nicolas. Aline produces a colourful mixture of plants picked from the Lac de Montsalvens from her jute bag.
Examining, sorting, slicing.
Following Aline’s instructions, Nicolas chops wild thyme, rock thyme, caraway, wild garlic and meadow hogweed, and adds these to the Gruyère double cream to create a crêpe filling.
For the bricelets (a regional waffle speciality), the two combine cream cheese with fresh herbs – white nettle, white clover and oregano – and give the snack a touch of colour with marigolds.
Log out, shut down and restart.
With the hike, Nicolas quickly logged out of urban life. Thanks to the quiet of the mountains, the wide range of aromatic plants and cooking using all his senses, he was able to get a feel for nature again. After all, everything in nature is connected.
Tour of Lac de Montsalvens.
This gentle hike around Lac de Montsalvens is perfect for families with children. The path is mostly in the shade. Half of the circuit follows the lakeshore, while the other half ascends to La Monse, opening up fantastic views of the lake down below. The route offers great opportunities for discovering the rich local flora as well as lovely spots for a picnic, barbecue or a bit of fishing.
At 10km in length, the hike along the shores of Lac de Montsalvens is perfect for walkers.
- 3 hours The three-hour circuit follows the lakeshore for half the way and ascends to La Monse for the other half.
Just off the trail, hikers will find a 60m long suspension bridge offering fantastic views of the lake and mountains.