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A relatively deep and narrow valley. Historically quite isolated, Val d’Herens has more than the usual share of traditional architecture and one of the largest remaining populations speaking Romand. This is not “fancy Switzerland” – the area attracts a more hard core variety of hikers and backcountry skiers – and the amenities reflect this more functional bias. 

Traditional annual cow fights are held around the beginning of May each year (signalling the release of cows after spending the winter indoors) and jointly shared between Evolène, les Haudères and La Sage.

Further reading: https://wild-about-travel.com/evolene-old-houses-traditional-swiss-life/

If you like meat, eat at the wonderful ***Café Restaurant Trappeur (call ahead for a good table outside). This is one of our favorite restaurants of all time.

Arolla

A unique place – a backcountry destination with a little help from poma-lifts. Very exhausting and a big time waster if you want to do a lot of skiing (you’ll spend 2/3rds of the day in lines or on the lifts). BUT if you like backcountry, it is likely one of the best places around. And an excellent place to find untouched powder a week, even two weeks after a snow. This area is very popular for heli-skiing. **Hotel Kurhaus is one of the best lunch options in the area. Not fancy, but classic (dates back to the 1800s).

Note that there are two other lifts nearby – Evolene, which looks a bit smaller, and Forclaz, which was closed to lack of snow in 2020 and is very small.

Just before the Arolla parking area and town, there’s a popular hike up to Lac Bleu. It’s very steep and can be challenging on a hot day, but the small Lac itself is lovely and a nice reward.

Brambois

At the entrance to the valley, **La Belle Ombre has good pizza and pasta, a nice family-run place.

Evolene

**Evolene is near the end of a lovely valley that ends in a glacier. You can drive both sides in a loop, up a crazy steep road with amazing views. The official language is French, but the locals, both young and old, still use a variety of Arpitan (also known as “Franco-Provençal” or “Romand”) for oral communication. Evolène is one of the last strongholds of the Arpitan language across its historical domain

  • We stayed at **Hotel Hermitage. Very classic hotel, not fancy but rather charming. Very lovingly cared for by a multi-generational family. Walls are made of paper, not a quiet place.

We had a really great meal at ***La Piax-La Grange, which looks to be the nicest restaurant in town. Cheerful setting, great staff, excellent food.

Nax

Also called **Nax-Tele-Mont-Noble. Very small, but surprisingly good on-piste. Mostly above tree line. Three fixed lifts, the rest pomo-toe. Great vistas. No appealing place to eat – one cafeteria restaurant and one cash-only Vin Chaud/Burger place.

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