The region of Valais ( Wallis in German) is home to some of the most dramatic backdrops found in glitzy travel magazines and instagram. Everything you see promoting Switzerland most likely comes from the region of Valais – mountains, glaciers, train rides and bumper crops of wine.
Image of Wine Trail Valais Tourism
Found in southern Switzerland, the Matterhorn, high-end ski-resorts catering to international guests, as well as famous winter train rides take you in and out of the Swiss Alps can easily be found in a regular guidebook. But what do locals do when in Valais?
Gastronomy and nature play a big role in Valais. The region is the largest wine-making region in Switzerland with more than 5000 hectares of vineyards, thanks to its sunny location which in some towns like Sierre, have more than 300 days of sun a year.
For an Experts Guide to Do’s and Donts to eating fondue – check this out!
If you are looking for the perfect food and wine weekend in Valais – Michelle Tchea’s Chefs Collective takes you on a lesser known itinerary with design-focused hotels, excellent wine routes and of course traditional food stops to tick off all the great things to do in Valais, Switzerland. Here are top reasons to visit Valais and yes, it involves loosening your pant buckle and indulging in all that Mother Nature has to offer.
Image from Valais Tourism
CRANS-MONTANA – Instagrammable Moments and Cheese…Lots Of It
Leave Zermatt and Verbier to the international guests who just want to splash out on fancy resorts with little culture. Crans-Montana is one of the better ski-resorts to visit. Not only is it a year-round region with excellent fall-viewing of the mountains and Swiss Alps but it is also offers excellent skiing. For design-focused travellers and foodies, Chetzeron Hotel offers everything you look for in a not-so-typical Alpine experience.
Chetzeron is located 2112m above sea level and is a great base to explore the Alps. Starting out as a restaurant, the hotel is one for the architecture-geeks in all of us, as well as self-professed foodies with a young, vibrant Chef Lucia from Argentina leading the way.
The menu varies depending on the season with excellent local vegetables from Valais region, fruits and homemade items for both breakfast, lunch and dinner. Excellent views of Crans-Montana from the restaurant, bathroom and if you are lucky one of the suites.
For something more local, Restaurant Le Mayen is in the heart of Crans-Montana but caters to locals with excellent cheese dishes. Typical offerings like raclette, fondue and rosti are on offer but are done very well here. The dessert is a must – go for the home-made tart but you really will not be disappointed in this friendly and delicious restaurant.
If you want to stock up on local cheese and wine. Your best stops will be at Le Laiterie Le Terroir and ask for Lucy or Stephan for their trusted cheese recommendations, as well as wine shop Le Tirbouchon, which offers wine tastings.
Restaurant La Mayen – Delicious
MOTHER NATURE – Work Off Those Cheese-Calories
Valais will leave your buckling at your knees if you do it correctly.
The cheese from the region is one of the best in Switzerland with excellent pastures for the cows to roam freely. So if you want to avoid gaining too much weight in Valais, be sure to take in all that Mother Nature has to offer.
The Marathon of Flavours is one of the events to get into if you happen to be in Valais in October. Launched this year, the event takes you on a 23km walk/run/crawl to some of the best wineries in the Valais region. Eat, drink and enjoy a small stretch of Valais with cured meats, pate, strudel and wine of course! A excellent day to meet locals, new friends and also sample some great Swiss wine like Pinot Noir and of course, Fendant. Michelle Tchea’s Chefs Collective recommends the Humagne Rouge but you can not go wrong in a region where most wines are made in small batches by hard-working wine producers.
The Valais Wine Pass is a good option if you miss out on the Marathon of Flavours ( Oct 17th, 2020)
Autumn in Vallis – Image from Tourism Board of Valais
Go Outside The Guidebook – Strolls And Hikes
Alsace in France may be known for its small and cute fairy tale cities but to do something out of the touristy-guidebook, visit some of the cute towns in Valais.
At the top of the list is Evolene, Nax and St. Martin. Evolene is one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland with its old timber houses but one of the reasons to visit is for excellent Fondue. Restaurant La Paix – Le Grange is where locals go for fondue and friendly service. During the winter sit next to the open fire, chat with locals and enjoy a special fondue experience out of a huge bread bowl. Top tip – get the morel fondue – it is worth the journey.
Image of the very special cheese fondue in Evolene (Cred. Valais Tourism)
Michelle Tchea is a 4-time bestselling author. Her books include, Building a Perfect Meal, My Little SoHo Kitchen, Signature Dishes (Australia's Best) and Chefs Collective. Her work can be found in other leading luxury travel and food magazines including Travel+Leisure Asia, SMILE, NUVO Magazine and The Telegraph