Verbier in Switzerland
The beautiful village of Verbier, I dreamed to go back there.
July 6, 2019. I ran the Trail Verbier Saint Bernard. The kilometers go by, the breathtaking views too. I’m drooling, but take the time to admire the landscape between two swear words. One thing is sure: as soon as I finish these 73kms, I’ll have to come back to explore the region a bit more.
September 27th 2020. Finally ! It’s been a year that I’ve been bugging Cyril about Verbier, one of my top 3 places for which I had a huge crush (with exæquo: the Dolomites and the Beaufortain). And here we go!
Where to start to make you live these few days spent in the heart of the canton of Valais ? As usual when I’m in the thick of it, I had a bit of trouble channeling myself while writing this article, so I had to go over it several times before opting for the “perfect” format. What could be better than a day by day account to tell you about our program and especially to give you some ideas of trails and hikes close to Verbier (you can find many others here).
What to do in Verbier Ski Resort , in Val de Bagnes
Verbier is an alpine village in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is a sort of cosmopolitan capital of mountain sports, which allows easy access to all the wonders located in the Val de Bagnes. Sports centres, cocktail bars, restaurants and shopping means this resort has something for everyone. The Verbier luxury chalets and various hotels means the resort has accommodation of all levels.
Wild and preserved, the Val de Bagnes offers a multitude of hiking trails with the Combins, Vélan and Mont-Blanc massifs in the background.
Verbier is at the heart of the 4 Valleys ski area and hosts many sporting events: the Verbier Xtreme, the Verbier-St-Bernard trail, the Grand Raid and the Patrouille des Glaciers.
Day 1. Monday. Discovering Verbier
This vacation were a little bit special because we were going for the first time with Rhea, our “little” 4 months old dog. We had to adapt the program in order to take care of her between two naps (on her side) and climbing (on ours).
Even if Rhéa is still too small to do big walks, we were able to take her on Monday morning in the lifts and go up to “Ruinettes”. The opportunity to enjoy the magnificent panorama of Verbier with the 3 of us, without tiring our legs too much.
We were able to take the ski lifts for free, thanks to the VIP Pass or Verbier Infinite Playground Pass. Developed by the Tourist Office, it gives free or preferential access to more than 50 activities for anyone staying at least 1 night in Verbier, Val de Bagnes or La Tzoumaz!
The afternoon program was a bit more sportive! Leaving Rhéa for a nap, we went for a hike! In spite of a mitigated weather… no question of bubbling! To avoid wasting too much time in the car we went on a hike near Verbier.
Hiking in Verbier :
We parked at Les Planards, where the restaurant La Marmotte is located, and went up to the Croix de Coeur (we could have gone by car, but the view is always nicer when you drool a little). The Col de la Croix de Coeur (2173m) is quite mythical, and allows to have an exceptional view between the massif of Combins and the Mont-Blanc in the south and the Bernese Alps in the north.
We then decided (a bit by instinct I admit, we had not prepared much) to follow the path “La Planie” which is a photographic trail on the heights of the resort of Verbier (which is normally done at the start of Ruinettes). It offers very beautiful views on Verbier and allows by turning on the right and by going down again to find the Planards easily.
Day 2. Hike to the ” Lac de Louvie “
Tuesday morning. The day rises…but the fog clings on. After a nice walk in the center of Verbier we finally take our courage and our sticks in both hands to attack the hike leading to the lake of Louvie.
The Hike : The Lake Of Louvie From Fionnay
From Fionnay, the hike is quite short but very steep. Fionnay is 20mn from Le Châble and 30mn from Verbier. The start of the trail is located next to the compensation basin storing the turbinated water of the Grande-Dixence. It is very well indicated.
The snow quickly came to complicate the ascent while the clouds stretched to the horizon. The scenery that emerged through the playful mist was simply superb. The climb itself is worth the trip…but then what about the lake of Louvie.
It is possible to continue the hike towards the Col Termin in order to admire the Corbassière glacier, the Combins massif and the Mauvoisin dam. The path was much too snowy on our side and so we turned back.
Day 3. Via Ferrata Near Verbier And Mauvoisin Dam
Morning : Via Ferrata Des Gorges De Mauvoisin
“Oh I don’t feel it, not at all at all”.
My vertigo and I were keeping a low profile while perched on this suspension bridge. This first via ferrata experience, near Verbier, was quite exceptional and with hindsight (writing in the warmth of my couch 4 days later) I am delighted to have been challenged by the Verbier Tourist Office.
At 45mn by car from Verbier for us (30 for the Swiss who overtake like Schumacher in the descents) the Via ferrata of the gorges of Mauvoisin is just splendid! We were supervised by Yvan, a guide from Verbier who was very patient and kind.
The Via Ferrata Des Gorges De Mauvoisin
With a length of 600 meters on 2 sections of 250m and 350m each and equipped with several bridges, this via ferrata near Verbiers is open to the public from July 1st to October 31st each year.
The two parts of the via ferrata can be done in a row or separately. Given my fear of heights and the fact that I already had no arms left from clinging to the rock, we did the first section, “Saxifrage”.
To get there, it’s quite simple. You can either park towards the hotel of Mauvoisin or park on the parking lot next to it to reduce the approach step as much as possible. The first section starts from the picnic area and plunges into the gorge of the Dranse. There, a first small monkey bridge connects to the other side, where 250 meters of crossing, between rungs (320) and cables, allow to join the old bridge.
The second section, “Tichodrome”, is more involved and as mentioned above we did not use it. The first monkey bridge is 35 meters long and 40 meters high. The second is 65 meters long and is perched 55 meters above the ground.
Culture moment: The names of the 2 courses refer to the flora and fauna of the Haut Val de Bagnes. The Saxifrage is a plant found only in the Dranses valleys and the Tichodrome échelette is a species of bird that nests in the walls of the Dranse gorges.
Restaurant De Mauvoisin. A delight for the taste buds and the eyes…
Being hungry, very very hungry (emotions are digging in) we went to the Restaurant de Mauvoisin. Located at the foot of the Mauvoisin Dam, the Hotel Café Restaurant de Mauvoisin offers a warm welcome and delicious food every day from late June to early October.
Aprem : The Mauvoisin Dam
Not passing by the Mauvoisin dam when visiting the Valais… is like going to Paris without admiring the Eiffel Tower.
The 250 meters height of this concrete giant makes it the highest arch dam in Europe. Built between 1951 and 1958, it literally overlooks the Val de Bagnes and generates 1000 GWh of electricity per year.
The lake of Mauvoisin is an artificial lake which extends on 4,9 km. Its surface is 2,08 km2 and its depth is more than 200 meters. Its color is just incredible.
The path which is at the entrance of the parking of the hotel of Mauvoisin is great! Of 2km and 150d+, it is very well laid out and allows you to walk in a historical gallery quite impressive.
Day 4 – Hike to the Avoi Stone and its superb 360° view
There are many ways to reach the Pierre Avoi. You can start from the Croix de Coeur or for the most courageous from Verbier. We took the in-between way by stopping on the path that goes up from Les Planards.
Despite the threatening weather, we couldn’t not finish our stay on this hike which had been strongly recommended to us. Located at 2473m of altitude, the Pierre Avoi overlooks Verbier and La Tzoumaz and offers a 360° view from the Rhone valley to the Combins massif. It’s magical!
The ascent, a bit steep according to the path, does not present any particular difficulties. Only the access to the top of the Pierre Avoi is a bit technical, it is done by ladders but is very well arranged. After the via Ferrata of the day before…everything seemed easy to me!
These few days spent in Verbier have confirmed our love for this region and especially for this beautiful resort of Verbier which offers so many nice surprises!