From Alp horns and a family treasure hunt to the thrills of downhill biking – Nendaz is summer in Switzerland. But the famous meadow and mountain resort of the Valais has an extra card up its sleeve ...the beautiful tracks of Les Bisses.
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While adults love to relax in an awe-inspiring Alpine environment, children often find nature and the mountains a bit of a bore in summer... With no skiing, sledging or snowballs it’s all a touch pedestrian; literally. And there’s not a lot of fun in hiking when you’re five years old and really don’t see the point of splendid isolation or a dramatic mountain view. So before a family mutiny kicks off why not check out the captivating paths and trails of Les Bisses in Nendaz? Unique to the region, Les Bisses are freshwater channels that meander and sparkle for almost 100km; created by farmers to bring snow-melt water down through the high meadows to irrigate grass and crops. Today, children love to leap and bound across these safe, shallow streams, inventing an endless variety of games to play. Easy paths at between 800m and a spectacular 2,200m follow Les Bisses, almost all on flat or very gentle slopes. Hot and bothered? Cool off with a splash! And when you finally leave Les Bisses, Nendaz is happy to entertain with 250km of hiking trails and six lifts open daily for walkers between July and August. Mountain bikers are also well looked after – with 200km of tracks. Prefer your sport without wheels? Try one of four running circuits at the Nendaz Fitness Park, the open air swimming pool or a breath-taking Via Cordata (like a Via Ferrata but with ropes. Obviously). Plus there’s easy access to an 18-hole golf course at nearby Sion.
Perhaps one of the most special facets of the Valais is its passion for folklore. For example, did you know that Nendaz is the capital of the Swiss Alphorn! And you can learn to play this summer with courses for beginners. Highlight of the international Alphorn calendar is the Valais Drink Pure Festival of Alphorns from July 22 to 24, which attracts some 150 competitors from around the world. Nendaz is also famous for its beautiful (and feisty) Hérens mountain cows. Why not make a date to see the Queens of Hérens do battle in the National Cow Fighting Final on May 1st or the beautiful Inalpe processions of cattle to the high pastures in June? The cow fighting is actually more of a push and shove as they like to jostle for position as herd leader - and no animals are hurt in the process! But winners become regional and then Cantonal queens, so it’s a serious event. Look out also for seasonal farmer markets bringing fresh local cheeses, apricots, honey, sausages, jams, syrups and liqueurs into town. In Nendaz there’s a market every Wednesday afternoon from July 6 to August 17, plus activities for children. Finally, don’t forget to sample the wines of the Valais – nothing tastes more like summer than a glass of chilled Fendant or Pinot Blanc...
For more information visit Nendaz 4 Valées.
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Photo © Aline Fournier