Deep in the Swiss Alpes Vaudoises, just above the salt mines of Bex and at 1260 meters above sea level there is one of the most magical hectares of land Michael and I have ever visited. We stumbled upon it, quite by accident last summer when we were touring aimlessly through the region. We’d taken a detour onto a small road that wound its way up a mountain, through a truly majestic forest. The road dead-ended at place called Le Pont de Nant and the entrance to the Vallon de Nant natural reserve, nestled just under the imposing west face of the Grand Muveran massif.
Pont de Nant is home to that magical hectare of land called La Thomasia. Located next to a charming chalet-style auberge, Thomasia is a breathtakingly beautiful alpine botanical garden. It was created in 1891 and today is part of the Musées et Jardin Botaniques Cantonaux de Lausanne .
Here you can find over 3000 species of classified mountain plants native to mountain regions all over the world. From the Andes, to the Himalayas to the Rockies to the Caucasus to the Arctic. Thomasia is open from May to October and the location is also a perfect departure point for mountain hikes in the reserve and for visits to a couple of mountain refuges or alpages that are accessible from here by foot.
If you find yourselves in the area, La Thomasia is definitely worth a detour. When we were there in July we had just eaten lunch at the Cafe des Alpes, in the nearby village of Gryon (also worth a detour). But that chalet-auberge next door to Thomasia had intrigued me and I’ve been meaning to go back and try it out ever since. Last weekend, almost six months later, and in the depths of winter I finally did. And that turned into another whole adventure! Stay tuned.