It's also a very nice place to spend a week's holiday, which is exactly what we did in May.
Together with Chris' parents, we stayed in a chalet in a small village called Nax, approximately 15km or so from the Canton of Valais' capital, Sion. Nax has a population of around 400, and an area of roughly 25 square km (thanks Wikipedia!). What drew us to spend a week there was the setting.
|Our chalet in Nax|
|Firewood chopped by me|
Add to that the fact that the owner had installed a real working chimney, and you get a glimpse of traditional Swiss mountain life. I had a go at chopping firewood for the chimney using a real axe (see photo). Think I did a pretty good job!
|Lydia on the terrace|
|Lydia and her grandpapa|
next to the river
Indeed, the owner told us that the cash register was still the original one, and it looked like she was telling the truth - the register still had push buttons and no electrical display, much like the register you would see Ronnie Barker fighting with in Open All Hours.
|The Pyramides d'Euseigne|
The boulders themselves prevent the spikes from being eroded, so should a boulder ever fall off it's supporting spike would then start to erode. Fascinating stuff from a geological point of view, and an interesting thing to see for tourists. The main road actually goes through a tunnel underneath the Pyramides d'Euseigne, so you can't really miss it!
|A suspended bridge at|
Today, these bisses have become excellent locations for people to enjoy a good walk, as they are generally in wooded areas that accompany mountains or large hills, so allow people to get back to nature. The Torrent Neuf has a small chapel along the walk, and also three suspended bridges - not for those with vertigo!
Their website has many photos and videos, giving you a glimpse of what this bisse is like. I found it really interesting to see how they actually built the original bisse, which was basically by hammering spikes into the side of the mountain and attaching wooden planks to them. During construction, single men would go first while those with families followed behind, the logic being that someone without dependents is more expendable! A priest would also accompany the construction crew, so it gives you an idea of how dangerous it was to work on a bisse.
We also spent one day in Sion having a look around the shops and the market. Sion is a town with roots dating back thousands of years, and has the prominent feature of two large, rocky hills, with a castle nestled on top of each one. It's an interesting town to spend a couple of hours wandering around, checking out the old buildings near the river or scouring the market for fresh fruits and vegetables. The Valais region is particularly known for it's apricot production, although it was a little too early in the season for that when we were there (June is the start of the season for apricots from Valais).
Nax itself was a beautiful little village in an idyllic location for those who love peace and quiet and a good view, while the surrounding areas had more natural beauty and interesting sights, as well as the possibility for some retail therapy in Sion.