Sunny Sion

After spending 2 days in the Berner Oberland, we jumped on a train and got off in Sion at the recommendation of a Swiss woman in Gimmelwald. She said, "I go to Sion and I no feel like I'm in Switzerland." Couldn't have said it better myself


Sunny Sion

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Europe_lover on September 14, 2000

Sion straddles the Rhone river and sits in a glorious valley with mountains on all sides. The town has an 'old town' that is pedestrian friendly and has 2 castles. One is in ruins and one is under reconstruction. Both have fabulous views of the valley!

The entire valley is filled with vineyards and the local wine is marvelous!${QuickSuggestions} Budget travel is limited in Sion. They have an HI hostel, but most other things are pricey ($75-125 USD).${BestWay} Walk. All things that will interest you will be within walking distance. I don't know how to get into the little villages 1/2 way up the valley, but the TI right next the train station will help you.

HI Hostel of Sion

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Europe_lover on September 28, 2000

For those on a budget, this is a treat.

The manager was really laid back. My wife and I shared a room with another couple from Australia. Each couple had their own bunkbeds. The sinks were nice and big to do laundry in and the bathrooms down the hall were clean enough to eat off.

Our price of 15 SF each included our room and a morning breakfast: Traditional continental breakfast.

The accommodation is nice with a veranda for watching local traffic and catching a breeze.

The Hostel is located in an industrial area of the town near the train station. Stow your bags and go up to the 'old town'. To get to the hostel, turn left from the train station and then left again under the tracks. It will be on the left corner of a 4-way intersection.

HI Hostel of Sion
Rue de l'Industrie
Sion, Switzerland
323-7470

Plenty of Restaurants

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Europe_lover on October 1, 2000

At the base of the castles is the 'Old-Town' Sion, a pedestrian friendly area. It is filled with plenty of cafes that offer traditional French cuisine.

My wife and I ate at a cafe that had its menu posted outside. I can't remember what I ate, but I did sample the local wine, Johannisburg Riesling, and I was in love. I've bought many bottles of local Riesling since I've returned to the States, but none are as good as my Sion glass.

Prices range from $10USD to $75USD for a meal. However, the menus are posted outside and you can quickly leave one that doesn't appeal to you.

If you miss home, a McDonald's is right across the street from the train station and next to the TI.
Pedestrian area
Pedestrian area
Sion, Switzerland

Castle Valere

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Europe_lover on October 1, 2000

If you've ever wanted to venture into the past and feel completely enveloped, the Castle Valere is for you. Two castles sit on the edge of Sion. One is refurbished, the other in ruins. Castle Valere is in ruins and I wouldn't want it any other way.

While Castle Tourbillon is more heavily traveled and possibly more interesting because of its museum, Castle Valere has a flavor and feeling that can't be captured in words. You can hide out in small nooks that once may have been a watch post or bedroom and contemplate time and your place in it. The walls will surround you, but you are free to see the beauty of the mountains and vineyards. The smell of fresh grapes invades your nose and seems to penetrate every fiber of your being. Castle Valere has been around 1000 years, and you are another person in a long list of others that have been allowed to experience the castle's magic.

From the parking lot on the east side of town, you must walk up a hundred or more breath-taxing steps to get to the front gate. The outer wall of the Castle is still standing and you must cross through to the courtyard. The Castle has a few remaining structures, one being a small chapel with paintings dating from the 1100s. The chapel is only open a few hours each day during the summer. I'm not sure about the winter hours.

The view is incredible of the Rhone River Valley. You can have plenty of views through the holes in the walls and 'windows.' On the east end of the hill is a small open area that allows you to look down the Rhone river valley several miles (ignore industrial area directly underneath your feet). It is a wonderful picnic area featuring a wide spread of green lawn and partially sheltered by skinny elms. This is a relaxing place to rest yourself after the long walk up the hill.
Castle Valere
Northern hill on east side of town
Sion, Switzerland

Castle Tourbillon

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Europe_lover on October 1, 2000

Sion is dominated by 2 castles. One is rebuilt and the other is still in ruins. Castle Tourbillon is rebuilt and in the midst of being refurbished. When my wife and I visited there in July 2000, we discovered workmen scraping, digging and repairing the years of damage done to the castle.

The Castle has an amazing view and once the workers are finished, it will be incredible. The Castle does offer two remarkable, if small, treats for the visitor who walks up the hill. A small chapel with plenty of paintings and statues. It is small and quaint, but with descriptions only in French. It is very beautiful, but still under reconstruction.

The castle also offers a museum dedicated to the history of Valais (Wallis), which is the Canton to which Sion belongs. It has a chronological tour starting with Roman and Berner influence in the area, focusing on the middle ages when Sion was home to several powerful bishops, and ending with the 20th century.

If you are lucky enough to snag coupons from the little chapel at Castle Valere, the price is right on: the chapel and museum are free. Otherwise, the chapel is free, but you must purchase tickets to tour the museum. We had the coupons, so I don't remember how much those tickets were. Combined with the view from the castle, it is well worth the climb.
Castle Tourbillon
Top of the southern hill
Sion, Switzerland

Small towns with real culture

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Europe_lover on October 1, 2000

Europe is full of must-sees. However, some of the best places are those that are real because time or technology has passed them by.

Sion is one of those places. It is a 21st century town with plenty of telephones, fast food joints, and shopping. However, it goes at a slower pace than the rest of Switzerland and feels like France. Patisseries are along most streets; boulangeries can be found without looking too hard. The main goal of the day is to enjoy the weather, a good glass of wine and good conversation. The locals are very warm and friendly. When my wife and I couldn't find the grocery section of the Co-op, we were shown the way to go, and when we couldn't figure out how to weight the fruit, we were shown that as well.

I wouldn't make Sion a destination, but when you need a vacation from your vacation, Sion might be the place for you. You can enjoy the valley and if you are inclined, several small villages are up in the hills and plenty of hiking or skiing could be yours for the taking.

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j1688-Sion-Sunny_Sion.html

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