Valais is at the southwest end of the Swiss federation with a capital at Sion. It was Romanised early and became part of the Kingdom of Burgundy, then part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1032. All rights were assigned to the Bishop of Sion, but the west part was overrun by Savoy, eventually taking the whole area. The Valais resisted the reformation, remaining Roman Catholic, with the bishop still in power until Napoleon invaded and the area became part of the Helvetic republic.

Valais contains the head of the Rhone valley, Zermatt  and the matterhorn, making it a popular winter sports destination. It is divided into two parts, Bas Valais and Haut Valais. It also contains two passes over the Alps – the St Bernard and the Simplon Pass. The route runs through the west part of the canton.

Interesting Places in Valais


Martigny is at the junction of the roads from the St Bernard and Forclaz passes. It was a Roman foundation and traces remain in the form of water channels and a theatre. Where they stage bullfights!, and Roman baths. The Gianadda museum with Roman remains and classic cars and amphitheatre (Octodurus)

 Martigny Bourg

Martigny Bourg has an interesting church and castle. Between here and Sembrancher, the footpath winds around the mountainside and is narrow and slippery. It’s possible to bypass this dangerous section by by train.


This town is the centre of a skiing region ıt has a botanic garden, and Mainly wooden buildings with old grain stores.

Bourg St Pierre

This tiny stttlement is the Last stop before the St Bernard Pass. It’s possible to hire snowshoes to use if there is snow on the pass, but any rain or wind presents an avalanche risk.

Hospice of St Bernard

The pass is snowcovered until end May. The hostel was founded by St Bernard d’Aoste in 1050. Instead of the traditional St Bernard dogs, nowadays German Shepherds are used to find people trapped under avalanches, because the larger St Bernard will not fit in a helicopter!

The 32km road of the St Bernard pass (2065m) is only officially open June –October although the 6km tunnel is open all year around.


The stages of the Via Francigena in Valais are described on the website with altitude profiles and transport and accommodation information. Check here

Stages 70.12 70.13 are in Valais.

The main page offers links to accommodation, guides, maps, and transport. (French) is the site for the club maintaining all the routes in Valais. They have group walks and a form for reporting waymarking problems.


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