Awarded as ‘the prettiest village of French Speaking Switzerland‘ by a local magazine, as soon as I saw Evolène it was not difficult to understand why.
Charming old houses decorated with colored flowers. Evolène is an idyllic hamlet in the Valais region
The heart of the village has been preserved and many of the traditional old chalets have been lovingly (and expensively) restored. Most of them used to be barns and have been transformed in cosy chalets, exquisitely decorated with flowers.
Life is peaceful in the Val d’Hérens, where the village sits. Part of the locals are farmers, a good part work in the tourism or trade industry and some go to the nearest city, Sion, to attend their jobs. Surrounded by beautiful mountains – like the stunning Dent Blanche – and glaciers, Evolène and the Val d’Hérens are for real mountain lovers, looking for breathtaking landscapes and peace.
I spent a long weekend in Evolène in autumn, looking at the landscape colored in yellow, orange and red, strolling between the beautiful houses, enjoying the silence and a most needed sense of peace.
Walking along the river up the Val d’Hérens, I visited Les Haudères, another charming village, smaller and even quieter, maybe also because it was the low season. The hike from one hamlet to the other is very easy, on an almost flat terrain, and the view extremely rewarding in both directions. Smooth pastures, lovely old barns, and a lot of flowers revealing their last beauty before the arrival of winter.
Locals proudly keep their traditions, like the Battle of cows
Like in many other mountain villages in Switzerland, people in Evolène and the Val d’Hérens are proud of their traditions and willing to bequeath them.
An important tradition is the ‘Combat de reines‘ (the ‘Battle for the queen’) a cows fight taking place every year from March to early May, when the cows are turned loose in the meadows after a long winter indoors and before leaving the valley up to the pastures in the mountains.
In this area of the Valais region the cows are of the Hérens race. Small, black and very strong, they preserved more than others races the instinct for hierarchy and that’s how the winner of the fight becomes the queen of the herd when moving to higher altitudes during summer.
During special celebrations it is not unusual to see the locals wearing the colored traditional costumes, but even on a normal day there’s a feeling of authenticity, a flavor of a past still surviving.
Val d’Hérens is a hikers and climbers paradise
At the end of the valley the small hamlet of Arolla is the starting point for beautiful hikes of different difficulty as well as a renowned climbing area. I chose to walk the trail leading to the ‘Lac Bleu‘ (the Blue Lake’) which indeed was more turquoise, where I was rewarded by a magnificent view on the surrounding mountains and glaciers.
Of course, in the evening I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to eat one of my favorite Swiss specialties: cheese fondue. I drool over cheese fondue and wish there was a restaurant in Milan where I could go from time to time for a special treat.
Getting there by public transportation: From Sion (where most trains stop), the Post Bus takes you to Evolène in about 40 minutes. There are several rides everyday, more frequent during high season. From Les Haudères, more buses reach other near-by towns.
Have you ever visited the mountain villages of the Valais region?
More reading: Hiking through the Meadows to Lake Arnensee