We went to Musée du fer et du chemin de fer (Iron and Railway Museum) in Vallorbe in February. It was a beautiful day and we spent the morning bathing at the Centre Thermal Yverdon, then take a bus to Vallorbe.

As most specialized museums in Switzerland, the museum was on the small side, but very well kept. As the name already indicates, it host many iron-related items from the Roman Empire era, to the more current use of iron, railways, and the development of railways in Switzerland.

I always love to see a mill working, and in this museum they had a few. This one (above) was even inside the building. Anvils, very important object in iron working, were abundant.

The display of many iron objects from different eras of human civilization was very interesting. We could see the simple horse shoes to more complex keys to all kinds of tools.

Don’t you think the display of the tools Pinterest-worthy? 🙂 On the photo above you could also see one of the few screens in the museum — very vintage. Loved it!

The upper levels were dedicated to railways and trains. We saw a short movie about the development of the railways in Switzerland, especially regarding important connections with Paris and Milan. It was interesting for us the adults though the children found it long and boring.

Yet once we got to the top floor it was lots of fun. My 5-yo train freak was happy to see the “train station” hosting many different trains at 1:45 scale that he could operate.

The touch-screen panel that you can see on the photo above showed the trains that were circulating, and once they returned to the station, one could choose the next ones to go.

The layout of the 77 meter-long tracks was great, there were places where they had 2 levels…

and even hanging close to the glass ceiling.

On the upper 2 levels, there were many model trains on display behind glass windows, as well as a diorama that worked with coin payment. Needles to say my son enjoyed them a lot. You can see many videos of the trains circulating on their website.

The museum also had a small tea room, selling local home-made products, where we had coffee before catching the Postbus home.

To conclude, we liked the museum. I enjoyed learning the ancient iron technology but I must admit our children were a bit lost in the lower level as they were too young to really get excited over the displays of tools. For this, we plan to revisit during special events in the museum when there are blacksmiths who demonstrate iron forging and handling. Outside the special events, they may be able to arrange a demo for you, give them a quick call in advance to ask.

Finally, on Easter weekend they host “Festival des couteliers” when many knife makers from Switzerland and France will be there to show us their craftmanship. I think it will be interesting for all of us to see how iron is made into everyday objects. Can’t wait!

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Musée du fer et du chemin de fer
Rue des Grandes Forges 11
1337 Vallorbe
+41 (0)21 843 25 83
+41 (0)21 843 22 62
info (AT) museedufer.ch

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