Sion: worth a visit in both summer and winter

Sion is the capital of the Swiss canton of Valais and is located in the Rhone Valley. The city can be recognized from afar by the castle Tourbillon and the ruins of Valère. They watch over the city itself, as it were. French is spoken in this part of Valais. About 70% of the residents of Sion speak French. The city has existed for more than 7,000 years, making it the oldest city in Switzerland. Due to its central location, you can make various excursions from Sion. The weather is often pleasant in summer and in winter there is plenty of snow on the surrounding mountains.

Contents

  • Zion
  • Stores
  • Supermarkets
  • climate
  • Stay overnight
  • Hotels
  • B&B
  • Campsites
  • Vineyards
  • Fruit growing
  • Sights
  • Tourist Office
  • Tourbillon castle and Valère ruins
  • Opening hours Tourbillon (2020)
  • Opening hours Valère (2020)
  • Lac Souterain Saint Leonard
  • Entrance fee (2020)
  • Opening hours (2020)
  • Walks along suonen/bisses
  • Grande Dixence/Lac de Dix
  • Pyramids of Euseigne
  • Derboranche
  • Create more
  • Col du Sanetsch
  • Winter
  • Crans-Montana
  • Thyon-2000
  • Verbier
  • Finally

 

Zion

The city of Zion is very old, it is a medieval city. The oldest part has existed for more than 7,000 years. In French the city is referred to as Sion, in German as Sitten and in Latin the city is called Sedunum. There is also a campsite just outside Sion with this name. Zion is a Biblical name and the official meaning (from the Bible) of Zion is fortress. Sion is the capital of the canton of Valais. Approximately 34,708 people live in Sion (as of the end of 2019), of which approximately 68% are of Swiss descent. About 70% of the inhabitants speak French. The (place) name Sion also occurs in Israel and in the Netherlands in the municipality of Rijswijk.

Stores

Those who love shopping can indulge themselves in Sion. There are many shops. These stores include: clothing stores, florists, electronics stores and household goods stores. These may be shops in a shopping street, but there are also indoor shopping centers with multiple shops in one building.

Supermarkets

There are also several supermarkets in Sion. These are Coop, Migrolino, Denner and the Migros. Some of these supermarkets have multiple locations. There is a large Migros at Avenue de France 14-20 Sion . This has three M’s on the outside of the building. This shows that it is a large store. In addition to the Migros supermarket, there are a number of other shops where you can go.

climate

There is a pleasant climate in the canton that includes Sion. The sun shines frequently – on average there are 300 days of sunshine – and there is little precipitation. Sion only receives approximately 500 millimeters of precipitation annually. In summer, temperatures are between 22°C and 24°C, although there are also peaks. Both up and down. There is a chance of snow from November to March. This is especially the case in the higher areas near Zion.
Legend
A . Castle Tourbillon
B . Ruin Valère
C . Tourist Office
D . Large Migros supermarket
E . Station
F . Airport
G . Municipal lake with park
H . TCS Camping Sion
I . Camping Sedunum
J . Hopital

Stay overnight

There are numerous options to spend the night in Sion or near Sion. There is a choice of: hotels, holiday homes and Bed & Breakfast (Zimmer frei). There are also a number of campsites nearby.

Hotels

There are several hotels in Sion itself. Almost all of these are close to the city center. These hotels often have two or three stars.

B&B

Sion has a number of B&Bs, but those who do not want to spend the night in Sion can also go to villages in the area. Some examples of this are: Veysonnaz, Salins, Savièse or Vex.

Campsites

There are three campsites just outside Sion. Two of these fall under Zion and are opposite each other. These are Camping TCS Sion and Camping Sedunum. Camping Valcentre falls under Bramois.
Address and contact details Camping TCS Sion
Camping TCS Sion
Chemin du Camping 61950 SionTelephone number: +41 (0) 27 346 43 47website: https://www.tcs.ch/de/camping-reisen/camping/campingplaetze/standorte/sion.phpemail : [email protected]

Address and contact details Camping Sedunum
Camping Sedunum
Route des EcussonsCH- 1950 SionTelephone number: +41 (0) 27 346 42 68website: www.camping-sedunum.chemail: [email protected]

Address and contact details Camping Valcentre
Camping Valcentre
CH- 1967 BramoisTelephone number: +41 (0) 27 203 16 97website: www.campingvalcentre.chemail: [email protected]

Vineyards

Due to the pleasant temperature, the warm (föhn) wind and not too much precipitation, plenty of grapes for wines are grown. Of the total Swiss wine production, no less than 40% comes from the canton of Valais. Around 50 different types of grapes are grown. The vineyards are in full sun. A few well-known wines are: Fendant (a white wine) and Dôle (a red wine).
grape vines at Sion / Source: ©ottergraafjes bunches of grapes at Sion / Source: ©ottergraafjeskassen for fruit growing from above / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Fruit growing

As mentioned earlier, there is a pleasant climate in the Rhone Valley, which includes Sion. Due to this climate, more types of crops are grown besides grapes. These include:

  • apricots
  • raspberries
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • pears

apple tree Sion / Source: ©ottergraafjesaprikozen Sion / Source: ©ottergraafjesaardbeien in greenhouse / Source: ©ottergraafjesraspberries in greenhouse / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Sights

Due to its central location, you can easily make fun trips from Sion. Some examples of this are:

  • walks along suonen/bisses
  • by car to Derboranche, Col du Sanetsch or Lac de Dixence
  • a day trip to Zermatt, Visp or Visperterminen
  • or a long walk along the BLS track or over the world’s longest suspension bridge
  • The old city and the four castles/ruins (Tourbillon, Valère, Majorie/Vidomnat, Montorge) of Sion are also worth a visit

 

Tourist Office

In any case, it is useful to visit the tourist office in Sion. Here you can find a lot of information about nice sights in and around Sion. In French the name is Office du Tourisme de Sion .
Address details Office du Tourisme de Sion
Office du Tourisme de Sion
Place de la Planta 2CH- 1950 SionTelephone: +41 27 327 77 27website: http://siontourisme.ch

castle Tourbillon and ruin Valère / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Tourbillon castle and Valère ruins

The castle of Tourbillon and the ruins of Valère both stand on a hill and are therefore clearly visible from all sides. Tourbillon dates from the 13th century and Valère was built somewhere between the 11th and 13th centuries. In 1788 there was a serious fire in Zion. As a result, Tourbillon was completely destroyed. Due to political unrest, it took a very long time before the castle was rebuilt. Since 1907 it has had the status of a historical monument.

Opening hours Tourbillon (2020)

This castle is closed from mid-November to mid-March. From May to the end of September you can visit it from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. And from mid-March to early April and from early October to mid-November, the castle is accessible from Monday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance is free.

Opening hours Valère (2020)

You can visit Valère with or without a guide. If you visit without a guide, admission is free. You can go there from June to September from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the period from October to May you can go there from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you want to visit the castle with a guide, this is possible every day from June to September at 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm. It is not possible to use a guide on Sunday mornings. In the period from October to May you can only visit the castle with a guide on Sundays at 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM. The costs are (in 2020):

  • CHF 2 for children, elderly, students and soldiers
  • CHF 4 for adults

 

Lac Souterain Saint Leonard

Between Sion and Sierre is Lac Souterain Saint Leonard. This is an underground lake that was created naturally. It is approximately 300 meters long and 20 meters wide and has a total area of 6000 m2. It is possible to take a tour here in a boat with a guide. Such a tour takes about 30 minutes. It is around 15 °C inside. So keep this in mind if you want to take a tour. English, German and French are spoken during the tour. The entrance is not free.

Entrance fee (2020)

  • children up to 5 years old are free
  • children from 5 – 15 years pay CHF 7
  • adults pay CHF 12

 

Opening hours (2020)

This underground lake will only be open again from June 7, 2020. During the period from the end of September 2019 to June 6, 2020, work will take place on the outdoor buildings at the underground lake. From June 7, 2020 to November 1, 2020, the underground lake is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In July and August you can go there every day from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Address and contact details Lac Souterrain de St-Léonard
Lac Souterrain de St-Léonard
Rue du Lac 21CH – 1958 St-LéonardTelephone number: 027 203 22 66website: http://www.lac-souterrain.comemail: [email protected]

walking trail along suone Vieux / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Walks along suonen/bisses

It does not rain much in this region and yet the various crops need water. The farmers get this water from an artificial canal. Such a channel is called a suone (German) or bisse (French). These canals are very old and some are dilapidated. Some suons have been renovated especially for tourists, so that it is possible to take a walk along them. There are various walks along these water supplies throughout the canton of Valais. Some walks are easy to do, others are quite challenging. It is wise to wear good shoes for all walks.

Grande Dixence/Lac de Dix

The Lac de Dix reservoir is located in Val dHérens. That is a side valley of the Rhône Valley. To get here you have to drive in Vex towards Val d’Hérémence. This reservoir is the highest reservoir in the world. The wall of the dam (Grande Dixence) is approximately 285 meters high. Construction work took place between 1950 and 1961. The reservoir was put into use in 1961. This reservoir collects the meltwater from 35 glaciers. This amounts to a water capacity of 400 million cubic meters. This meltwater is supplied through tunnels with a total length of 100 kilometers. It is possible to take a paid tour inside the dam. There is a cable car to the dam. Even if you don’t want to visit the sheet pile wall itself, it is still worth going here. You have a beautiful view and for those who like walking, it is possible to walk along the lake or even further to the hut, Cabane de Dix.

Pyramids of Euseigne

A beautiful natural phenomenon can be seen in Val dHérens. Those are the Pyramids of Euseigne. These pyramids are earth pyramids and were created during the Würm Ice Age (80,000 to 10,000 years ago). They are 10 to 20 meters high and some pyramids have a boulder on them. If you follow the road to Euseigne you will see the pyramids appear automatically. The road to the village of Euseigne goes straight through the pyramids.

Derboranche

Not far from Sion, near Vétroz, a road goes towards Derboranche and Col du Sanetsch. At some point the road splits. You must keep left to drive towards Derboranche. You will then eventually arrive in the Derboranche valley. Anyone who finds it scary to drive on very narrow roads should not go to Derboranche. The road to it is quite narrow. In some places you can’t pass each other. The road there is beautiful. On the left you see a deep abyss. Every now and then you drive through tunnels and you may come across a Swiss post box. It is wise to sound the horn every now and then in the tunnels, so that any oncoming traffic knows that someone is approaching. The road to it is approximately 11 kilometers long. At the end of the road you cannot go any further. There is a parking lot and then you can continue on foot. It is nice to walk around Lake Derboranche. Somehow the lake is getting smaller every year.

Create more

A landslide occurred twice in the 18th century. Large amounts of rocks fell from the mountains of Diablerets. This created the lake. The mountains were even given the name Duivelsbergen, because at one point it was thought that the landslides were caused by something evil.

Col du Sanetsch

This pass is located at an altitude of 2,044 meters. One side is in the canton of Valais, while the other side falls under the Bernese Oberland. A cable car goes up from that side. The road to it is beautiful, but it comes to a dead end at the end. Here you also pass through a number of tunnels. The higher you go, the fewer trees. At a certain point you end up above the tree line. The road is not open all year round. The winter closure applies from October to May. Here you will find unspoilt nature and with a bit of luck you will see murmeltiere (mountain marmots).
Earth pyramids near Euseigne / Source: ©sodrafmeer near Derboranche / Source: ©ottergraafjesCol du Sanetsch / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Winter

It is not only pleasant to stay in Sion and the surrounding area in the summer. It is also worth it in winter. There is often sufficient snow on the surrounding mountains in winter. So ideal for a winter sports holiday. In addition to skiing, you can take beautiful snow walks in winter. There are several ski areas in the area. You can go to Veysonnaz, Verbier or Crans-Montana, among others.

Crans-Montana

Originally they were two different villages, namely Crans and Montana. In the end it became Crans-Montana. It is a fairly fashionable winter sports resort and is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters. The ski area goes up to an altitude of 3,000 meters. There are 140 kilometers of ski slopes. These slopes are divided into blue, red and black slopes. In addition to skiing, you can also go cross-country skiing, hiking (with or without snowshoes) and even bobsledding.

Thyon-2000

As the name suggests, Thyon 2000 is located at an altitude of 2,000 meters. It is very suitable for the novice skier and for children. There are more than 400 kilometers of ski slopes.

Verbier

The town of Verbier is a world famous place for winter sports. It is located in Val de Bagnes and the ski area falls under Les Quatre Vallées. There are around 400 kilometers of ski slopes, from beginners to advanced.

Finally

Please note that you are required to have a vignette on your car on Swiss motorways and highways. If you drive with a trailer, it must also be provided with a vignette.