Now that we have a car here in Switzerland, we can indulge in one of our favorite pastimes – piling into the funmobile and heading off for parts unknown with no idea where we might end up!  On a random weekday, Travis got home from work while the sun was still shining and the skies bright blue. We headed toward Estavayer-Le-Lac, a town on Lake Neuchâtel less than 30 minutes from our house. We had no idea what the town offered, and not surprisingly, we ended up at a castle – the Château de Chenaux.

We thought we might check out a local museum but when we found out it’s only open on weekends during the winter, we left the car parked there and started meandering along the narrow cobblestone streets.  Travis dashed into a boulangerie for some fresh pastries while I waited outside with Touille, then we continued on down the hill until we found a trail along the shores of the lake.

An aging wooden boat rests on the shores of Lake Neuchatel

Colorful paint peeling, an old wooden boat lies neglected along the lake.

Despite the clear weather, the temperature was bitingly cold with a wicked wind whipping off the lake. We eventually ended up at a beautiful park, clearly intended primarily for summer use, with a sandy swimming area, miniature cabin rentals that were shuttered for winter, a giant iced over water slide, and a bizarre pulley system in the water that is apparently for water skiing without a boat. Pretty cool!

We sat on a picnic bench in the sun and enjoyed our apple and vanilla pastries while Touille chased inanimate sticks.

Just beyond the park, we stumbled across a small body of water which turned out to be another small section of the Grande Cariçaie – the largest wetland in Switzerland.

A platform at the edge of the wetlands overlooks a wooden trail built up through the marshy grass.

Raised trail through Grande Cariciae wetlands

Wooden boardwalks meander through the reedy banks of the Grande Cariçaie near the lake.

The entire time we were wandering through town, we could see the spires of an imposing fortress or castle on the hill in town.  We could see it from the lake’s edge, imposingly perched on the hill, and slowly zig zagged our way up residential streets until we found a long, narrow stairway up the hill.  The stairs spit us out near the castle, offering a fantastic view of Lake Neuchâtel and its affluent lakefront homes, replete with swimming pools, below.

Come ON. Who gets to live beneath a castle?

Houses spread out below the Château de Chenaux along the shores of Lake Neuchatel in Estavayere-Le-Lac.

Curving along a sidewalk sandwiched between the hillside with a steep drop-off and a concrete wall bordering homes, the Castle of Chenaux came into full view.  On a bright, sunny day, it was really pretty!

The stairs up the hill end just around the corner from the sidewalk that leads directly to the castle perimeter.

With the exception of a small plaque at the entrance that provided the date of construction, there’s not much information about the castle on site.

Château de Chenaux, Switzerland

It’s currently in use as a police station, so we weren’t able to take a tour of the interior. Since the exterior gates were open, we wandered throughout the grounds and marveled at the well manicured lawns, reflecting pool, and massive brick towers.

An arched stone bridge leads to the main entrance of the castle.

If you happen to be visiting the town of Estavayer-le-Lac, you might want to consider including Château de Chenaux in your walking tour.  You’ll likely be the only tourists there, and it’s worth it just for the views of Lake Neuchatel.

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Chateau de Chenaux, Switzerland

Looking for other things to do in Estavayer-le-Lac?

Check out Switzerland’s Dead Frog Museum!

Know Before You Go
  • A portion of the castle is currently used as the local police station, so be quiet and respectful during your visit.
  • The castle is free to enter and tour the exterior grounds.
  • It’s closed on Mondays.
  • Official site for Château de Chenaux
One of Switzerland's lesser known castles is the Château de Chenaux. Housing the local police station, it's open to visitors and offers stunning views of Lake Neuchâtel below.

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