Autumn is a wonderful time to spend a few days in the mountains. In late October/early November, it is still Indian summer and the leaves are turning bright yellow, orange and red. We spent a few days recently in a small village in Val d’Anniviers in the canton of Valais where old wooden houses hug the mountainsides and you can hear the cowbells on the big black vaches de Harens grazing in the surrounding pastures. In the morning the clouds roll in from above but by noon the sun takes over. It snowed in mid-October but there was no sign of snow a few weeks later, except on the distant mountain peaks. Soon, however, it will snow again and the valley will begin to prepare for the winter skiing season.
For now the villages are mostly empty during the day. This is the in-between season when there are few tourists, and the people who live in the villages are away at work. If you go up to the mountains at this time of the year, there are wonderful hikes along the bisses (irrigation channels) and in the forests. We walked along the Grande Bisse de St. Jean which extends for 3.8 km from Grimentz to Mayoux and was opened after reconstruction last spring.
In the markets you can buy fresh cheese that had been made in the summer and make delicious croûte au fromage (recipe: slices of cheese between bread that has been dipped in white wine are pan fried until the bread is browned on both sides and the cheese melts inside). It goes well with the Petite Arvine (white) or Humagne (white and red) wines of the Valais.
Val d’Anniviers is the last French speaking valley in the Valais. You can drive, or take the train to Sierre and from the train station take a bus up to the different villages in the valley: Grimentz, a picturesque village with old wooden houses; St. Luc, from which a cable car takes you up to some beautiful hiking paths; Chandolin, one of the highest villages in Europe where people live year round; and several other smaller villages from which there are wonderful walking possibilities.
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