The Valais is renowned for many things: hiking, mountain biking, golf, climbing, paragliding, lakes, famous vineyards, glaciers and stunning alpine scenery. Surprisingly, it is only recently that the Valais authorities have woken up to the fact that it also has a wealth of resources perfectly suited to attract both road cycling tourists and professionals. It has always been a popular destination for mountain bikers and the local road cyclists have always appreciated what they have on the doorstep, but it is now coming on the radar of many road cyclists from outside the area.
The Valais, however, has more to offer than superlative road cycling and an abundance of outdoor activities. Sion, the ancient capital of the region, has a cool café culture, many shops and amenities, as well as chateaux, museums and churches within its environs.
Art-lovers will find exhibitions, plays and films, as well as numerous concerts for music-lovers. In the summer months Sion is alive with fairs and festivals and has an almost Mediterranean feel. Thanks to the benign climate it enjoys, one can enjoy warm evenings until late into the night in a relaxed atmosphere.
If you enjoy delicious food and great wine, there are regional specialities to taste and food markets full of amazing local produce. The market in Sion is held every Friday on Rue Grand Pont and you will find a huge selection of local foods and crafts on offer, including wines, cheese, fruit, vegetables and other specialities from the valley. It's a real foodies dream!
The town of Sion, the capital of the Valais, has a vibrant café culture. Sion Tourisme.
Valais has over 50 varieties of grapes and a wine making tradition that dates back thousands of years. The fendant and johannisberg grapes produce delicious whites and be sure to sample some of the fruity reds like gamay, pinot noir and dole during your stay. The Rhones wines are the perfect partner for some of the local hearty cuisine, including the cheese based raclette and fondue or rösti potatoes, the latter traditionally eaten for breakfast, but a delicious snack after an energy sapping ride!
If your exploits on the bike have taken their toll, pamper yourself with a relaxing visit to one of the many Spa resorts in the area, like the one at Ovronnaz on the south face of the Rhone Valley. Or if you still hanker for a little bit more adventure, you could book an indoor Ski Dive at the RealFly Centre in Sion. There is so much to do and see in the Valais and, most importantly, so many mountains to conquer, that you may never want to leave!
Main image: A serpentine road leads up the valley to the Lac de Moiry. Alain Rumpf/A Swiss With A Pulse
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