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    Vineyards of Clavau and Sion's Historical Landmarks

    St. Leonard - Cotsetta Vineyards - Sion - Basilica Valère - Chateau Tourbillon

    Vineyards of Clavau and Sion's Historical Landmarks

    St. Leonard - Cotsetta Vineyards - Sion - Basilica Valère - Chateau Tourbillon

    It doesn’t always have to be green to be remarkable as we found out in this early spring hike in the vineyards along the Clavau irrigation channel near the city of Sion, capital city of Canton Valais. One might think that before the vines sprout their leaves, the miles and miles of terraced vineyards would look drab at this time of year, but the backdrop of snow-covered Alps and the impressive dry-stone walls forming terraces as far as the eye can see provide an impressive canvas that might not be visible in all the summer green.

    The walk starts in the village of St. Leonard in the Rhone Valley, and follows the Clavau irrigation channel toward the city of Sion with its ruins of the Chateau Tourbillon on a prominent hill always in your sights. There are over 50 varieties of grapes planted in this region, some of them the only place in the world where they are grown. The terraces are extraordinary, all the walls are dry stone, and at one point the 16m high wall boasts to be the highest dry-stone wall in the world.

    Placards along the way provide information about local vegetation and the history of the vineyards and the terraces in this region.

    At about the 2-hour mark you reach the point along the channel where the path descends into the town of Sion. From here you get views over the entire city with both its prominent hills upon which perch the Basilica of Valère and the Tourbillon ruins. Allow about an hour for the walk through Sion with a visit to both landmarks, and then the final walk to the train station

    Notes on the Landmarks of Valère and Tourbillon:

    Built from the 11th Century and onwards, the Church of Valère and the buildings surrounding it have been declared monuments of national heritage. The church (now a Basilica) is home to the world’s oldest working organ, which dates from 1430 – 1440. Unique works of art are preserved in its interior: 15th Century paintings, Baroque Choir stalls, Romanesque Canopies, and a very rare 13th Century Rood Screen (separates the choir from the church attendees).

    Chateau Tourbillon: Construction started about the year 1300; this was the headquarters of the bishops of Sion. As the location was hard to access, the castle fell into disrepair and was eventually destroyed in the fire of Sion in May 1788 (which also destroyed about 2/3rds of the town of Sion).


    Published on 25.03.2016 by GabrielleMerk - Tour Date: 12.03.2016
    Published on 25.03.2016 by GabrielleMerk - Tour Date: 12.03.2016

    Route Details

    Download GPS-File / SwitzerlandMobility Map
    Download GPS-File / SwitzerlandMobility Map
    Time Required
    3 hours
    12 km
    372 m
    385 m
    Season Start / Season End
    March - December
    Level of Difficulty (Hiking)
    Points of Interest
    Valère Basilica, Ruins of Tourbillon
    Starting Point
    St. Leonard Train Station
    Starting Point with Public Transport
    Sion Train Station
    Return with Public Transport
    Places to Eat
    Sion, St. Leonard
    Things to Note
    Ruins of Tourbillon open to the public after mid-March.

    Route Description

    00:00 At the train station in St. Leonard, follow the trail marker "Sion / Bisse de Clavau". This takes you northward through the town and then up to the left.

    00:15 Reach the outskirts of the village and the start of the vineyards. Continue along the path that runs along the edge of the canyon.

    00:40 Reach the "Bisse de Clavau" irrigation channel. This is the highest point of the walk, and the trail now heads toward Sion away from the canyon.

    01:30 Reach the look-out point at "La Cozette". From here you get great views of the ruins of the Chateau Tourbillon as well as the magnificent terraces and the highest dry-stone wall in the world (16m).

    01:50 Parking lot at the end of the irrigation channel, follow the trail markers to Sion

    02:10 Historical Sion. From here it is about 10 minutes to the train station, but allow an hour for a visit to the Basilica and the ruins on the hill.






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    Contact GabrielleMerk