POËTA-RAISSE, a well hidden gorge in the French speaking part of Switzerland is probably one of the most beautiful gorge hikes in this region of Val de Travers. Poëta actually (perhaps?) means awful or terrible… And in the old days where the path followed the stream, there were definitely some horribly difficult places to cross. Since then, the path has been made accessible for normal hikes and this is really a wild, narrow, dark, beautiful and tranquil gorge hike.
The hike is part of a longer one-direction tour, but we decided to walk from the parking spot in the forest just outside the medieval town of Môtiers, hike upwards to the wildest part of the gorge and then return. In total just under 7 kilometers with 400 meters up and down. There are many places for picnicking, one even with a nice wooden chalet with tables.
At one point there is the option to get a shot of absinthe (call the number on the note if you empty the bottle ? ), also known as the green fairy ? (absinthe has been distilled in Môtier since the 18th century! And there is also an absinthe museum there). The whole trail follows the stream of Ruisseau du Breuil. When we were there it was close to being dry, so we would recommend coming after a long rainy period to experience the full potential of wildness ? from the small waterfalls.
After returning we walked a bit longer to see the Cascade de Rousseau, a tall waterfall named after the famous Swiss philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau who spend a couple of years in Môtiers and liked to come here. Some of his quotes are posted on small signs on the path to the waterfall, look down and you will find a lot of them. Unfortunately, there was absolutely not a single drop of water when we visited. The cave below the waterfall is one of the largest and longest in the Canton of Neuchâtel.