Petit Bisse and the old Bisse de la Tsandra in Conthey
Charming walk along two historical irrigation channels. The second, with info panels, offers a fascinating insight into this ancient Valais tradition. Glorious views throughout.
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The “bisses” of Valais are historical irrigation channels built to carry precious water from the glaciers to the fields, orchards and vineyards. At the beginning of the 20th century, Valais boasted about 200 bisses totalling 1,800 km, all built laboriously by hand. In recent years, many have been restored carefully. This walk follows the course of two bisses, built in the 15th century to carry water to the fields above Conthey. Both are fed by meltwater from the Tsanfleuron Glacier on the massif of Les Diablerets. Each has its own character and reveals glorious views. The walk begins at the start of the first channel, the Petit Bisse, where it is fed by the river of La Morge. The bisse still carries water every summer, from early June to the end of October. The delightful path follows alongside, through forest and pastures, as far as a micro-hydro power station at Mayens-de-My – where the water flows into the Bisse de la Tsandra. The water of this second bisse no longer flows at the surface but through a sequence of underground pipes. A theme trail follows its route, with 24 information panels that explore the history of the bisses, describe the natural habitats along the way and reveal secrets of local wildlife. Along two particularly picturesque stretches, the water flows in the open. The path is easy, with the gentlest of downhill slopes all the way – apart from one short section where the trail drops from the first bisse to the second. The views, too, are glorious the length of the trail: at first of the wild gorge of La Morge, and later over the vast sweep of the Rhône valley, across its orchards and vineyards to the snow-capped peaks beyond. Highlights Delightful gently sloping trail through forest and across meadows Petit Bisse – working irrigation channel, flowing with water during the summer Bisse de la Tsandra – theme trail exploring the bisses, their history and local wildlife