Hikes

Hikes

Tour des villages (Val d'Hérens)

Tour of the historical villages of the upper Val d’Hérens. Beautifully preserved, they bear witness to traditional life in the Valais mountains.

A cluster of well-preserved historical villages forms the cultural and social heart of the upper Val d’Hérens. Evolène and Les Haudères, the two largest, lie among the low meadows on the valley floor. Three other villages – La Forclaz, La Sage and Villaz – stand on a glacial terrace that makes a sunny balcony about 300 metres higher up, surrounded by pastures. The villages have lovingly restored their characteristic wooden houses and barns, beautifully decorated with flowers. Evolène was voted the prettiest village in French-speaking Switzerland in 2012, and is an official Swiss heritage site – like Les Haudères. Framed by alpine meadows and fragrant forests, they have retained all their historical charm.  The pastures that surround the villages are the ancestral home of the stocky black cows of the Herens breed, which take their name from the valley – and have become a symbol of Valais. These combative cows fight naturally in order to establish a hierarchy in the herd; hikers will often see pairs lock horns until one turns tail. Organised fights are a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike; the cows’ Raclette cheese, served melted, is prized throughout Switzerland. The valley is also known for its fascinating geology, which visitors can explore with the help of a free app, «GéoGuide Val d’Hérens» (details at www.evolene-geologie.ch). Locations along the village loop appear on excursions A and E on the app. Les Haudères has its own «Centre de géologie et de glaciologie», with a permanent exhibition; the tourist office at Evolène can provide further printed information.   Highlights:  Historical villages of wooden houses and barns, beautifully preserved Walk on two levels – valley floor and sunny glacial terrace 300 m higher Cultural heart of upper valley: markets with farmers and artisans in traditional costume

Turn-by-turn directions

The loop of villages leads anti-clockwise from Evolène. For the most direct route to Les Haudères, follow the path southwards out of the village to cross the river La Borgne, and walk upstream along its western bank all the way to Les Haudères. From here the trail zig-zags steeply up the slope to La Forclaz, before turning northwards to lead back down the Val d’Hérens at a higher level – through the villages of La Sage and Villaz (also spelt Villa). From here, the trail winds down the slope again to the floor of the valley and the starting point in Evolène.

Start: Evolène, village (1373 m)
Destination: Evolène, village (1373 m)

Author's recommendation

Call in at the tourist office in Evolène for printed information on the region’s history, geology, fauna and flora.

Technical information

  • Altitude

    1738 m 1342 m

  • Ascent

    545 m

  • Descent

    545 m

  • Technique

    Bewertung: 2.0 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Stamina

    Bewertung: 2.0 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Experience

    Bewertung: 5 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Landscape

    Bewertung: 5.0 von 5.0 Punkten

Public transport

Train to Sion, then postal bus to Evolène (change in Les Haudères). Find full timetable information at sbb.ch

 

Approach

A9 motorway, exit 27 (Sion-Est), follow signs for Evolène.

 

Parking

Several parking possibilities in Evolène. Follow the local car park routeing.

 

Equipment

We recommend: 

  • good footwear
  • clothing suitable for the weather: always carry a waterproof jacket
  • hat or cap
  • sunscreen
  • bottle for water
  • picnic
  • camera
  • binoculars (optional)
  • hiking poles (optional)
  • printout of this hike (click «Print» icon, to download)   

For certain walks:

  • Swimwear

Safety information

Use of the trails and the information on this website is at hikers’ own risk. Local conditions may entail changes to routes. Valais/Wallis Promotion accepts no liability for the accuracy and completeness of information on this website.

For all hikes: 

  • Bring a map. Download full description of this route including large-scale map by clicking on «Print» icon, top right of this page.
  • Use marked trails only, and observe all signposting – for your own safety, to safeguard grazing animals and to avoid disturbing wildlife.
  • Close gates after passing through.
  • Please be considerate to other trail users, and to the plants and animals.
  • Do not leave any waste in nature.

For mountain hikes:

  • Take extra care protecting yourself from the sun at altitude. UV radiation can be exceptionally strong, even in cloudy weather.
  • Plan hike carefully: take into consideration fitness level of each participant, weather forecast and season.
  • Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains, without warning. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In uncertain weather, turn back in good time. 

For high-altitude hikes:

  • Inform others of the route you plan to take. Whenever possible, avoid going alone.
  • Do not venture onto glaciers without a mountain guide.
  • Take note of the warning signs that point out the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs: water levels may rise rapidly without warning.

Additional information

More information about the destination: 

Literature

Find details of the area’s geology and a selection of geological walks on a free app, «Géoguide Val d’Hérens»; online version at www.evolene-geologie.ch.

Maps

SwissTopo maps 1:25’000: 1327 Evolène