How to access the Swiss Valais
From Chamonix, the French-speaking Valais is just up and over the Col de la Forclaz.
Martigny and its surroundings are very close at only 50 minutes by car on a beautiful mountain road. The present road was opened in 1957.
The road to La Forclaz, even in winter has easy access to Martigny and on to other Swiss destinations.
Martigny has a beautiful museum that is definitely worth a visit. The Pierre Gianadda Foundation is a perfect activity for a rainy day in Chamonix.
Stop off at the Emosson Dam for spectacular views of the valley before heading over into Martigny.
Skiing in Verbier
Just over the Swiss border from Chamonix, Verbier is a great day trip from the Valley and is included in the Mont-Blanc Unlimited Ski Pass.
As the main resort of the Four Valleys Ski Area, Verbier gives skiers and boarders 410 km of runs and 89 lifts! The summit of the resorts is the Mont Fort Glacier at 3,330 m.
With such high altitudes and reliable snow cover, Verbier makes for a great day trip from Chamonix.
Skiers and boarders of all levels can find their perfect runs here. Verbier has a wealth of beginner slopes, intermediate runs, steep and deep advanced descents as well as park and pipe for those who want to play. For more information on pistes in Verbier, visit the official Verbier and 4 Vallee website.
There is currently no public transportation linking the two resorts but the road is well maintained during the winter and takes about and hour and 20 minutes from Chamonix.
The city of Martigny (Valais Switzerland)
Martigny is one of the four major towns of the canton of Valais (Switzerland). It enjoys a prominent location, located at the crossroads of the Great St. Bernard, the Simplon, the Rhone valley and the magnificent mountain road from La Forclaz, which leads to Chamonix (France) and Valle d'Aosta (Italy).
This dynamic city has many tourist attractions and economic relations with its various museums, including the famous Pierre Gianadda Foundation. Mecca of Agriculture Valais where fruits, wines and white spirits enjoy an international reputation.
Another feature of Martigny is the terraced mountain farming with the tradition of Hérens cows. The beasts are a source of large regional pride with the famous "Combat de Reines" in the "Foire du Valais" celebrated every Fall.
The Valais (Switzerland) from Chamonix
On the right, you can go to the beautiful valleys of:
- Entremont (Sembrancher, Orsières, Champex, Gorges Durnand, Liddes in Bourg Saint Pierre, the Grand St. Bernard (that saw the passage of Napoleon in May 1800)
- The Valley of Exile (on the left, Chablis, Verbier ski resort grouse, and right Lourtier, at the foot of Fionnay Mauvoisin Dam)
- Val Ferret (ski resort La Fouly, the descent of the mountain pastures ("désalpe") La Fouly in September)
On the left, after Martigny, you can find the Rhone Valley where there are Vernayaz (with its famous waterfall, the Pissevache) and St. Maurice (the Fairy Grotto), Monthey, St. Gingolph on the shores of Lake Geneva. St. Gingolph is half Swiss and half in France and it is the end of the Canton of Valais. The canton of Vaud, with Bex salt mines, Lavey, a spa, Le Bouveret Valais and again in the Rhone delta, nature reserve of great beauty and back to the Château Chillon Vaud, medieval castle on Lake Geneva. Then on to Montreux, Vevey and Riviera.
The Chateau de Chillon by Montreux is worth a visit any day. The Montreux Jazz festival that takes place every summer is world renowned and you are guaranteed a great show.
In the Upper Valais, we must mention the beautiful internationally known ski resort of Zermatt with its mythical mountain, the Matterhorn. Not to mention, the Aletsch glacier above and Riederalp Bettmeralp, World Heritage Site by Unesco. The Simplon Pass joins Italy, a tunnel of the same name across the mountain to Domodossola.
And at the very top of the canton, the Rhone Glacier, which saw the birth of the river of the same name, runs through the Valais to empty into Lake Geneva at the other end.
Fully, Saillon Baths and vineyards
Famous for its vineyards, the cultivation of fruit trees, chestnuts, and the hot baths at Saillon. The baths are great for those bad weather days, or just to relax. There are four thermal pools, fitness areas, beauty salons, saunas, jacuzzi's and more.
A little furtheron, Sion, the capital of the canton of Valais, visit the castle of Tourbillon, the Cathedral of Valere and countless museums.
In Saint-Léonard, there is the underground lake, at 300 meters long, is the largest underground lake and natural waterway in Europe.