If you’ve been reading us for a while, you certainly know that we are particularly fond of beer hikes. Well today we offer you a small alternative with Valaisan wines: The gourmet walk along the Bisse de Clavau in the surroundings of Sion (Valais, Switzerland).
Gourmet hike: presentation of the concept
You’ll tell me that the name is already a good indicator of what’s ahead of us 😉 The “marche gourmande de Sion” is a walking itinerary with a menu on the way! Well then we’ll be honest for a sec, the more accurate name would probably have been a “drinking-walk” but I imagine that from a marketing point of view it would have been less attractive (although… we are in Valais after all!).
The concept? A 3-course menu, 6 glasses of wine to choose from throughout the entire route and a 5km itinerary (yes, there are more glasses of wine than kilometers #Drinkingwalk)
I discovered this concept last year with Marine, my best friend who invited me for this hike for my birthday (she knows me well haha). I came back totally excited and I gave a coupon to my dad so we could go for this hike together last Christmas (the apple does not fall far from the tree and I knew he would like the concept too). It was finally in October that we found a date to use this Christmas gift and the least we can say is that this second experience will have been just as good as the first one.
The walk starts at the Celliers de Sion, the first Valaisan oenopark. If sometimes you wonder what an oenopark is, I would like to tell you that it’s like an “amusement park” but in an adult version 😉 This brand new building was created by 2 families of wine growers of the region (the Bonvin and Varone cellars). The idea behind this project was obviously to highlight their production with a new point of sale but also to propose a whole bunch of activities around the wine theme. Their wine tourism offers range from “classic” wine tastings to much more original things like escape games on the theme of wine or walks or bike rides in the vineyards.
Hike start at celliers de Sion
For this day that was going to be rich in wine we made the (wise) decision to come to Sion by train! Once at the wine cellars of Sion, we went to the reception desk to receive the tasting coupons as well as the route instructions. The route is explained to us in person, markers are present on the ground and on signs all along the way and we can also download a mobile application with the precise itinerary on it. I think they are really afraid that people will get lost or they take a lot of precautions in case people forget their sense of direction after the tasting.
At the same time, seeing how the building shines with all its stainless steel scales, I want to tell you that even with 2 per mile per leg we should be able to find it…
Ascent in the vineyards of Clavau to the Cube
From the cellars of Sion we start directly with the serious business: a nice and sttep climb in the vineyard of Clavau. But let’s be reassured, it is a steep climb but the ascent is relatively short… When we arrived at the Bisse de Clavau, my dad assured us that we had climbed “at least 300-400m of difference in altitude”. In reality? There are 150 of them but when one starts to get thirsty it can seem more 😉
The trail itself is very well marked and you can feel that they have set up everything so that no one gets hurt. The passages where the rails cross the path are also VERY clearly marked. 😂
In fact, this walk is the perfect opportunity to get a closer look at these impressive train rack installations. Designed to facilitate the task during the harvest, these “roller coasters” are truly spectacular. One can’t help but wonder what it feels like to sit on them…
After a good half hour of walk we arrive at our first “refreshment station” of the route: the Cube.
Le Cube is a former guérite (a bar in the vineyards) that has been redesigned in a super modern way to offer a tasting space in the heart of the vineyards. Here you can taste the wines of the Varone house and the view from the terrace is simply breathtaking!
Stroll along the bisse de Clavau
After the aperitif it is time to resume the walk. From now on we forget the steep slopes and we follow the pretty bisse de Clavau which overhangs the valley. This end of the walk is really quiet and offers breathtaking views on the steep slopes of the vineyards but also on the city of Sion and its castles.
During this gourmet walk, you only cover a very small part of the bisse (about 1.5km), but be aware that the whole bisse is really worth it too (for another walk or even to extend the day’s walk). In all, the Bisse de Clavau is 8km long and can be done in 3-4 hours (round trip) between Sion and Saint-Léonard.
Lunch break at the guérite Brûlefer – Clavau
It didn’t even take us 30 minutes to reach our next gourmet stage of this tour. At the time of the reservation we had chosen the Bacchus menu and it is thus at Brûlefer that we took the meal. Their terrace is magnificent and overlooks the Tourbillon castle as well as the Rhone plain.
The style of the guérite is more classic than the cube and clearly the charm is there. As for the food, there is nothing to say, the menu was simply excellent and the wines (from Bonvin this time) were perfect!
Back to the cellar of Sion for a last drink
After a 3-course menu and 5 glasses of wine per person, we set off again for the last half hour of the walk back to the cellars of Sion. The path still follows a little bit the bisse de Clavau before going down through the vineyards in the direction of the plain.
Arrived at the oenopark we took advantage of the last rays of sunshine to drink our last glass of the tasting series before goinf back home for a well deserved digestion (needless to say that both Benoit and me fell aslee on the way back haha).
In short, a wonderful day with the family and I think my dad really enjoyed his Christmas present 😉
Practical information to do the Gourmet hike in the Clavau vineyards
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, this gourmet hike is proposed by the Celliers de Sion as an oenotouristic activity. The walk is not guided and you leave alone on the trails. The organization includes only the 3-course menu in one of the guérite, 6 glasses of wine of your choice as well as a map of the hike. I must admit that we really appreciated this “freedom” side and being able to go at our own pace. Afterwards, the route itself as well as the guérites are public, so it is quite possible to create your own gourmet hike without going through the cellars and simply stop wherever you want to eat or drink something.
In terms of price, the gourmet walk costs 69 CHF per adult, which I find very correct for what is proposed. To book we went through the website of the celliers de Sion. There are several menus to choose from.
When to come? The guérites are typically open during the “warm season”, so from April to October, so you should aim for this period. For my part, I went for this walk twice in the fall (early October) and I confess to having a preference for this season. The leaves are orange and especially it is not too hot (I have no trouble imagining it would be really hot in the middle of summer on these sunny slopes).
As far as the days of the week are concerned, it is possible to do the gourmet walk from Thursday to Sunday, although we advise you to come from Friday to Sunday instead. On Thursday the Cube is closed and it would be a shame to miss this stop.
How to get there: The cellars are just outside Sion. If you come here to do the food and & wine hike it is highly recommended to come by public transportation (or to bring a driver who does not drink). At this level, the cellar is not very well located unfortunately. With Marine we managed to have a good connection with the bus N°4 which leaves the station of Sion. By getting out at the stop called “center funéraire” we are 7 minutes walk from the beginning of the hike. Unfortunately, the second time our respective trains did not arrive at the same time and we did not have a good connection. In short, instead we took a cab. 20 CHF for the ride. If, like us, you are 4 people, this is still a good option. On the other hand, we advise you not to do it on foot, the last end along the cantonal road is not equipped with a sidewalk and it is a bit dangerous.
That’s it for today! We hope that you enjoyed the walk and that it will give you ideas to come and discover the area and its specialties. Of course alcohol is to be consumed in moderation and it is quite possible to take a grape juice instead of wine 😉