First stop on my way to Jodlerfest was the Val d’Illiez village of Champéry on the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil.
The Portes du Soleil is a major skiing and mountain sports destination in the Alps and one of the biggest outdoor destinations of its kind in the world. Spanning across 13 resort areas, it’s more than 1,000 sq km in size and stretches from Mont Blanc in France to the far side of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Among the baker’s dozen of Portes du Soleil resort areas is the Val d’Illiez. As enchanting and rugged as any place as I’ve ever encountered, the Val sits loftily above 900m (3000ft) in elevation. Amid all its Alpine splendour is the charming little village of Champéry.
Whether you ski or not, Champéry is an inviting and scenic mountain getaway and an ideal destination for tapping into traditional Swiss culture. I had such an amazing time seeing how folks in and around Champéry proudly strive (with impressive success) to keep their traditions alive and relevant and accessible to anyone interested.
Here’s a look at some of the cultural attractions I got to check out while visiting Champéry. Oh and by the way, don’t think that I didn’t eat well while in Champéry. I most certainly did. Details on the restaurants and food shops I visited will appear in a future post.
Built in the 1700s and as far as I could tell still in perfect condition, this beautifully preserved chalet cum living museum offers the chance to consider the hardships and joys of life in the Valais over the past three centuries and to consider the complications of the region’s transition to modernity. Perched on a cliff across the valley from Champéry, it’s a good spot for taking in sweeping and communing with nature as you hike up to it as well. Find out more at champery.ch/no/activites/visite-du-chalet-musee-lesserty.html.
La Ferme à Gaby
Way up in the mountains of Champoussin is La Ferme à Gaby, a visitor friendly farm and cheese making factory that adheres to age-old principles (and doesn’t cut any contemporary corners) in the production of goat and cow cheese. Yummy stuff that’s well worth seeing (and tasting) yourself! Learn more at lafermeagaby.ch.
Fonderie de Cloches Artisanales
Bells are a big deal in the Alps. They help identify and location livestock and establish status for locals. Just off the main drag in Champéry, Fonderie de Cloches Artisanales has been making bronze bells for practical and aesthetic purposes for over 35 years. It was opened by Jean-Denis Perrin in 1982 and is now run by his son, Hugues Perrin who is passing his knowledge on to the next generation. Visit Fonderie de Cloches Artisanales online at fonderiechampery.wixsite.com/perrin.
Les Vieux Moulins de la Tine
The old watermills on the Tine River in Troistorrents represent nearly a millennium and a half of industrial history and Swiss ingenuity. They’ve been incredibly well renovated and restored to working condition to provide a fascinating glimpse into the past. Find out more at vimoti.ch.
While exploring the Val d’Illiez I kept a comfortable base at Hotel Beau-Séjour in the heart of Champéry. Perhaps owing more to its setting than the hotel itself, what I loved best about the experience was the absolute quiet at night. I slept so well with my balcony door left open and fresh wafts of clean mountain air filling my cozy room. I had arrived at in Champéry rather late in the evening. Waking up to the stunning view of the Dents du Midi and Dents Blanches my first morning at Beau-Séjour was such a pleasant surprise! All other aspects of my stay pleased as well. Members of staff were so friendly. Continental breakfast was ample and yummy. My room was impeccably clean. Find out more at beausejour.ch.
Keep an eye out for more Yodel for Valais posts to come. Thanks!