Val d’Anniviers, new destination slow life
Time seems to have stopped. Or at least it has slowed down its mad rush as if it wanted to catch its breath. The Val d’Anniviers, with its Heidi-like scenery, seems to belong to a more peaceful era. With its majestic mountains, splendid scenery and raccards, the valley has become a favorite destination for lovers of slow life.
Two hours from Geneva and 40 minutes from Sion, the Val d’Anniviers is home to six resort-villages with the charm of yesteryear, which wind their way from a winding road where the famous post buses run. Each village tells the story of this wild and fascinating valley in its own way.
At an altitude of almost 2000 meters, Chandolin flirts with the sky and the clouds. This small village with minimalist structures, which is one of the highest inhabited in Europe, has welcomed many personalities. It was here that the Geneva adventurer Ella Maillart settled for six months of the year after a lifetime of travel in Asia.
Saint-Luc is close to the stars with the François-Xavier Bagnoud Observatory, the digital Planetarium and the Path of the Planets. The medieval village of Vissoie communes with nature and Vercorin is known for its sunny climate and its nature reserve.
In Vissoie, you can discover the church and the crypt of the castle chapel, beautiful examples of religious art. Zinal, a village of mountaineers, is located directly at the foot of peaks over 4000 meters.
The Geranium Village
A multitude of bright red geraniums hanging from the wooden balconies of the misons welcome visitors to Grimentz as soon as the weather is fine. A magical sight that contributes to the fame of this small village straight out of a picture book. The tradition of geraniums in Grimentz probably dates back to the early 1900s. At that time, the stained glass windows of the church were decorated on the occasion of the patron saint’s day on August 16th. But over the years, the geraniums were always less numerous. An association of enthusiasts decided to revive this tradition by launching the geranium operation in order to make the village bloom again and to reinforce its “picturesque and flowery” appellation. Stars of Grimentz, the geraniums even have their path. A didactic and fragrant walk which allows you to discover 34 different species. The principle: smell the leaves by rubbing them lightly between your fingers and try to recognize their scent.
The small cobbled streets, the raccards, these wooden granaries on stilts to protect the wheat from rodents, and the church take the visitor back to a time long gone. In the heart of the village, Grandma’s House, now transformed into a museum, was built around 1529. It has retained the original room and its small windows as well as the barn with the pigsty below, one of the only ones still remaining.
A lane leads to the Cave de la Bourgeoisie de Grimentz to taste the Vin du glacier, typical of the Val d’Anniviers. The technique is unique: the barrels are never emptied. Every year, new wine is added to the old one.
8 km from Grimentz, surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the Alps, Zinal reveals a magnificent and powerful nature. It is this and its summits that, since the end of the 19th century, have attracted tourists.
As early as 1860, Zinal had a certain reputation as a summer resort and became a favorite place for English climbers. In 1857 the first alpine club, the British Alpine Club, was founded, thus initiating the golden age of mountaineering. It was followed by its Austrian counterpart in 1862, Swiss and Italian in 1863, German in 1869 and French in 1874.
Skiing in the spotlight
The three magnificent ski areas – Grimentz-Zinal, Saint-Luc-Chandolin and Vercorin – allow you to dive into the great white with happiness. The skiing is done on some 220 kilometers of slopes, dedicated to all skiers. The high altitude offers some of the best snow conditions in the Alps.
The presence of a heliport connects all the official heliports in Switzerland as well as a VIP transport from the airports of Geneva or Sion, or Zurich.
There is also a freeride area, where extreme skiers and snowboarders can take on the great outdoors, and three snow parks.
Cross-country skiers can enjoy 19 kilometers of trails in Zinal.
And to vary the pleasures, why not go down the slopes in sleds, put on your ice skates, get intoxicated by the thrill of mountain carting, or set off to climb the two ice waterfalls of the Val d’Anniviers.
Summer or winter, the Val d’Anniviers is full of sporting activities. With 490 kilometers of hiking trails and a wide variety of itineraries, the valley is a paradise for beginners and experienced hikers. During the summer season, 15 long loop hikes allow you to explore the four corners of the Val d’Anniviers. For example, the medium altitude loop starting from Grimentz which goes through the forest to the village of Mottec with a return by the ancient bisse des Morasses. The region can also be explored from the summits with a hike including six huts at altitude.
In winter, when the snow has covered the green of the pastures, it is time to put on the skis and discover the ten hiking trails designed for the practice of sealskin.
The marked trails allow you to go for a walk in the mountains.
The marked trails allow you to go hiking or snowshoeing, especially at night with a 3.2 km trail between Grimentz and Saint-Jean. An extraordinary symbiosis with nature.
This year, the Val d’Anniviers hosted the queen stage of the Tour de Romandie. Sponsored by the Comptoir Immobilier Group, it led the riders from Aigle to Zinal, seeing the victory of Colombian Sergio Higuita.
The Sierre-Zinal foot race, created in 1974, has become a legend. Also called “the race of the five 4,000s” after the five mountains rising to more than 4,000 meters, visible from the race course – Weisshorn (4,506 m), Zinalrothorn (4,221 m), Ober Gabelhorn (4,063 m), Matterhorn (4,478 m) and Dent Blanche (4,357 m) -, it gathers every year some 6,000 participants of 63 nationalities. Its demanding 31-kilometer course and breathtaking scenery make it one of the most beautiful mountain races in the world.
The valley is also the setting for the Grand Raid, a 125 km marathon mountain bike race from Verbier to Grimentz, and the Rock The Besso / Zinal mountain bike enduro race.
As for the extreme alpine trail of the Besso / Zinal, it takes runners on old, almost forgotten alpine paths, linking the five huts at the bottom of the Val d’Anniviers.
Culture, gastronomy… and more
One word does not exist in the Val d’Anniviers: bored. The Ella Maillart space, in Chandolin, traces the exceptional career of this woman considered one of the greatest travelers of the twentieth century.
Near Grimentz, it is the monumental 148-meter high Moiry dam that catches the attention by its dimensions and the incredible view it offers on the valley. In Zinal, history is on the agenda with a visit to the Lée copper mine, a witness to the mining industry of the Val d’Anniviers.
The authenticity of the valley is also expressed at the table with local products such as the raclette d’Anniviers PDO, a raclette cheese made from raw, whole milk and made according to an ancestral recipe, rye bread and dried meats.
The valley’s authenticity is also expressed at the table.
Charming real estate project
This gentle way of life inspired Groupe Comptoir Immobilier for its Guernerés Exclusive Lodge project. At the foot of the slopes and close to the village of Grimentz, the very high quality project includes 16 chalets – individual or divided into apartments – and a residence housing 41 units, restaurants, a swimming pool, a spa, a playroom for children and a ski-room. Owners will have a wide range of five-star hotel services at their disposal.
The architecture is in the tradition of the Val d’Anniviers with old wood and dry stone, allowing a harmonious integration of the project in its environment, while strengthening the service offer of the resort.
It should be noted that the Comptoir Immobilier Group is also working on another large-scale project, located at the entrance to the Village and benefiting from a privileged location, with a panoramic view of the Weisshorn and access to a still untapped thermal spring, which is still in the design stage.