[AD] Every summer I get the urge to head to the mountains. There is something about the crisp fresh air, the peace and the dramatic scenery that consistently draws me back in. There’s nowhere better in Europe than the Alps for mountain scenery, so when I was recently offered the opportunity to head to Verbier in the Val De Bagnes region of Switzerland on behalf of fellow travel blogger On the Luce, I jumped at the opportunity. You might be familiar with Verbier as a luxury ski resort, but this stunning mountain resort has plenty to offer it’s summer visitors too. With fabulous views across the Val de Bagnes valley and the surrounding mountain ranges, it is a destination suitable for those who are looking for adventure, fun, culture and relaxation. If you are looking for any of those things, you should definitely consider a Verbier summer holiday.
This visit to Verbier was a press trip hosted by the Verbier Tourist Office. All transport, accommodation and activities were included, however, all views are my own.
Verbier Infinite Playground (VIP) Pass
Upon arrival at our accommodation, we were issued with a VIP Pass (Verbier Infinite Playground Pass). These passes are issued to every guest who stays in Verbier, Val de Bagnes or La Tzoumaz during the summer season for a minimum one night stay and pay the tourist tax. The VIP Pass provides visitors with significant discounts to many local attractions in the region. It also provides free access to all operating mountain lifts for pedestrians, with a 50% reduction for cyclists, throughout the summer season. There is unlimited access to the local Post Buses within the municipality, so if you want to explore further afield you do not need to worry about the cost of transportation. Whether you are an explorer, a nature lover or a thrill seeker, you can make some great savings by using the VIP Pass.
The discounts provided with VIP Pass could be used on many of the attractions and activities that we took part in during our stay. With more than 45 adventures to discover detailed in the handbook issued out with the pass, it’s a great starting point to plan your holiday. We spent three nights away during our Verbier summer break and had the opportunity to experience a wide variety of attractions on offer.
Ten things to do during a Verbier summer trip
I’ll start off by saying that three nights isn’t quite enough time to cram everything in during your trip. It’s plenty of time to get a good feel for Verbier during the summer season, but I would recommend extending the trip for at least a day or two more to maximise your experience. There is genuinely so much to do and you will want to allow plenty of time to take in the scenery and wind down. Here’s a variety of some of the things you can get up to during your stay.
1. Take a hike in the mountains
Verbier and the Val Bagnes region has 500km of walking trails which takes in mountains, valleys and forests. From gentle hikes to more challenging climbs, there are a wide range of trails available to suit everyone.
Bisse du Levron
The Bisse du Levron trail is perfect for a simple family hike. The Bisse, a man made stream constructed in 1460 transports water along the mountainside above Verbier before leading to a waterfall cascading to the valley below. The trail can be accessed by taking the Medran lift to Les Ruinettes from Verbier. From here, the trail follows the Bisse along the hillside for 11km, with stunning views down to Verbier and the surrounding areas.
Apart from a few hikers that we passed along the way, the trail was fairly quiet at the start of the summer season. The views down towards Verbier and the Val de Bagnes were breathtaking. Bright green meadows and snow capped peaks, with a soundtrack of a trickling stream, birdsong, the chirping of the local marmots and the gentle clanging of the cowbells of the Hérens cattle grazing on the pastures below. Blissful.
What could be better after a pleasant hike along the mountainside than dinner at a mountain restaurant? Thankfully, located near the trail was Restaurant La Marlénaz. A beautiful swiss chalet style restaurant, located at 1,895m, with a lovely terrace overlooking Verbier and the valley below. Serving a host of local dishes including rostis, fondues, raclettes and meats, there was a focus on traditional Swiss cuisine. We all opted for rostis with a selection of toppings, all washed down with a deliciously fruity local Fendant wine. A pleasant end to a lovely first day in Switzerland.
Another hike in the same area, and slightly more difficult than the Bisse du Levron, is the hike to Pierre Avoi. A tall rock formation, the Pierre Avoi towers over the surrounding landscape at 2,473m and provides 360 degree views of Verbier, the Rhone Valley and the Mont Blanc mountain range. The Pierre Avoi trail can be accessed by taking the Savoleyres mountain lift from Verbier. The hike is fairly simple until the final climb to the top of the Pierre Avoi, where there are ladders and chains to assist hikers reaching the summit.
2. Learn the art of cheese making (and sample some local cheese)
The Val de Bagnes region is famed for its cheese production where raclette and tomme cheese are hugely popular. As well as being able to sample in most local restaurants, there is also the opportunity to head out on an excursion to see the production and learn about cheese making techniques.
From Cow to Cheese is a half day activity where you travel to a cheese making facility in the valley, then visit the alpine pastures where the Hérens cows graze. This is followed by lunch at a mountain restaurant on the alpine pasture, sampling the local produce.
The tour begins at the Fromagerie D’Etiez in Volleges where you have the opportunity to see the production of the Raclette cheese from start to finish. The milk arrives early in the morning from local farms and the process begins. The unpasteurised milk is warmed and mixed with cultures to thicken forming a curd, before being placed in circular moulds and pressed for a pre-designated time. This is then turned and pressed again and the cycle continues to remove the excess liquid to reach the correct consistency. It was fascinating watching the cheese maker speedily working through this process.
The cheese is the submerged in a salt bath which adds flavour as well as forming a rind. Finally, the cheese is stored in cool (and carefully monitored) temperatures on wooden shelves to age. During this ageing process, the cheese is washed and turned regularly by hand. The raclette is stored for at least 90 days before it is ready to be sold to the public.
Following the tour of the facility, it was time to take a seat outside and sample a range of delicious cheese produced at Fromagerie D’Etiez. The cheese, as well as other local produce can be purchased from the store on site. No need to worry during closed hours, as there is a cheese vending machine outside. Yes, you heard it right, a cheese vending machine. Heaven!
Alpage du Tronc
Following the tour at Fromagerie D’Etiez, it was time to head to the mountain pasture at Alpage du Tronc to see the Hérens cows. A winding road led up the mountain side, providing amazing views of the area before we arrived at the alpine meadows. The cows, named after the Val d’Herens region of Switzerland are a small, horned breed of alpine cattle. They are bred primarily for beef but produce around 3,200kg of milk per year and are well adapted to graze on high altitude pastures. The females are aggressive and dominant (to each other) and there is a local tradition of cow fighting in the Valais region, which is a major tourist attraction.
Not long after we arrived, the clanging of cowbells began to get louder and closer as the cattle were herded in. This took some time. Some were fairly passive and headed straight toward the cow shed. Others wandered off to graze, some became a little feisty and started to fight, while some became curious of us humans gawping at them.
At Alpage du Tronc there is a more traditional cheese making process that takes place. The general process is similar to that at Fromagerie D’Etiez, albeit with less machinery and more of the processes being carried out by hand. It was really interesting to see both. The excursion concluded with another delicious lunch involving, you’ve guessed it, cheese!
Booking is required for this activity. VIP-Pass discount prices are CHF10 for adults and CHF 5 for children.
3. Explore an abandoned mine deep in the mountains
An activity I wasn’t expecting to do while in Verbier, was to explore an abandoned mine. From the mines to the Alpine flavours is another tour organised by the Verbier tourist office which we found really enjoyable. Beginning at the Col des Planches mountain pasture, packed with an abundance of summer wildflowers, we were briefed on the geological richness of the area and the history of the mining at Mont-Chemin, where more than 150 types of minerals can be found deep underground. Our guide for the afternoon was engaging and enthusiastic and it was really interesting to find out more about the area from her.
The walk to the mine entrance from the starting point is about one hour. Passing through meadows and forests, information boards are located along the way with more useful facts. Once at the mine entrance, we were provided with hard hats and torches before heading into the dark passageway. Within seconds of entering the dark tunnel, the temperature dropped considerably compared to outdoors. It’s important to have some warm clothing and sturdy footwear. Although the 400 metre long tunnel through the mine was flat, it was a little uneven underfoot and there was some moisture seeping through the rock.
Once inside, it was fascinating to see the changes in the rock formations where granite, quartz and marble were intertwined with sudden flecks of blue and green minerals (used for making jewellery). Iron, lead and silver was mined from the beginning of the middle-ages and extensive mining of fluorine took place in the 20th century. There were sections within the mine, where ladders were located, providing access to different levels of the mine. The tour of the mine is followed by a hike back to Col des Planches where the group have the opportunity to sample a tasting of local produce from the area. You can be pretty much guaranteed that this will involve cheese.
Booking is required for this activity. VIP-Pass discount prices are CHF10 for adults and CHF 5 for children.
4. Head to the hills on an E-Bike
Mountain biking is a hugely popular activity during a Verbier summer holiday. The Verbier BikePark has more than 800km of trails and mountain roads, suitable for downhill, enduro and the slightly more relaxing E-Biking. Bicycles are a great way to cover a lot of ground, giving the optimum opportunities to see the awesome mountain scenery. If you are not in great shape though, the added assistance offered by the E-Bike (a bike with an integrated motor which can provide assistance constantly or on demand) is perfect.
If you’re a beginner to E-Biking, there are guides on hand from Verbier BikePark to offer introductory sessions which provide great technical advice. Our E-Biking experience was with a guide, who gauged our experience and recommended the best and most suitable routes for our skill level. The E-Bikes can be hired and collected at the Backside Verbier shop in the centre of the resort. The bikes are specified and set up for your height, and they will also provide safety helmets.
Starting with a ride across Verbier to get used to the bike, we then started our climb. Initially we went up some winding mountain roads, with stops on request for photographs, before hitting the forest and some true mountain bike worthy paths. With the bikes in electric mountain bike mode I had a little assistance which was matched to the effort I was putting into pedalling. This made light work of the ascent, especially useful on hill starts after pausing to take in the views. Out of the forest and we made our way a little higher on the roads before returning to Verbier, but only passing through to make our way to the destination we had booked for lunch.
Electric mountain bike hire is available from CHF55 for half a day.
The Restaurant la Croix-de-Coeur is a mountain restaurant located between Verbier and La Tzoumaz. With fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, it’s a beautiful location to sit out on the sunny terrace, soak up the views and enjoy the delicious dishes on offer. Lunch over, it was time to head back to Verbier after a really enjoyable experience. If you are looking for a way to see great views that change as your perspective does, challenging yourself, but with the back-up of an electric motor, then this activity is for you. With a total distance of 23km and an 886m elevation gain, we reached the end energised and ready for more (if a little sore around the saddle).
5. Relax and recharge at a luxury spa
For a truly relaxing and indulgent experience, head over to the luxurious W Verbier Hotel and visit the AWAY Spa. With 800 square metres of relaxation space including nine treatment rooms, a jacuzzi and steam rooms you can relax, rejuvenate and feel refreshed for the remainder of your trip. There is also an indoor / outdoor heated swimming pool so the choice is yours and it’s suitable for all weather situations.
6. Sample some beers at a local micro brewery
If beer is more to your tastes, then the V Bier Brewery Tour at Vie Montagne is right up your street.
Vie Montagne is a private members club and public bar located on the Rue Medran in the centre of Verbier. It has its own microbrewery with six beers on tap. These beers are all brewed on site by the resident brewer, so freshness is guaranteed.
The set-up is impressive with the malt being ground on site, before being mixed with water drawn from nearby Lac de Louvie, purified at the 2nd gondola lift station, and nothing other than ingredients added. Once brewed and cooled the beers are sent to one of six dedicated fermentation tanks before being pumped to casks and served. This has to be one of the shortest travelled beers in the world, from brewery to glass in less than a hundred feet.
Time to sample the beers
There are six beers on offer:
Pilsner – a refreshingly light tasting traditional pilsner, very fresh and a definite contender for an afternoon of drinking.
V-Wit – A very surprising Wheat Beer. Never a favourite of mine a wheat beer, but this one changed my mind. On the nose it isn’t the most pleasant, but push past that and the taste is very nice. Certainly one of the best wheat beers I have tried, I would definitely sink a few of these happily.
Pale 3 – Being a big Pale Ale fan this didn’t disappoint. All of the flavours and simplicity of a great Pale Ale and only 3%.
Pale 4 – Another smasher, as we raise the alcohol to 4% the flavour gets a boost also, less delicate, a fuller flavoured IPA.
Pale Ale – If this beer was available in bottles in the UK I would be drinking this as my go to Pale Ale. All of the flavours and complexities of a great Pale Ale.
Red IPA – I’ll be honest now, I am not a great fan of flavoured beers. When done well they are amazing, when not, well they are plain bad. Usually either too sweet or the taste is too artificial. Not this one. The wonderful earthy taste of beetroot does nothing but compliment the regular Pale Ale flavours. A great all-rounder.
This is all served in a magnificently fitted out space. Books and curiosities line the walls, lots of wood befitting the nature of cabins in the area, great lighting (a wonderful array of lamps hanging from above into the public bar). The restaurant is more cosy club style with leather tub chairs and darker wood. Definitely a space worth visiting.
Booking is required for this activity. VIP-Pass discount prices are CHF12.50 for adults. Free for children under 15 with a non-alcoholic drink.
7. Test your nerves on an Aerial Walkway
For an adventure without leaving the resort, the Aerial Walkway near the Médran cable car station in Verbier is ideal for the whole family. A high ropes adventure course, there are varying difficulty levels and it is suitable for children from 7 years of age.
There are three courses, made up of a series of high walkways and zip wires. Some sections can be quite challenging, but the adrenalin of whizzing through the trees on the zip wires makes the hard work worthwhile.
VIP-Pass discount prices are CHF12.50 for adults and CHF7.50 for children.
For a slightly more challenging adventure there are two Via Ferrata courses in the region. These are far more challenging and nerve wracking, and you will be accompanied by a mountain guide. Rope bridges, carved steps and ladders, suspended high over deep gorges – if this sounds more like your idea of adventure then they are great options.
8. Experience a mountain yoga session with views to die for
Spending a weekend in the mountains hiking, biking, eating, drinking and relaxing brings with it a special kind of mindfulness and reflection. However, sometimes that isn’t enough. It’s just the start of the journey and you need more. Wholey Cow offer a range of yoga, massage, fitness, PT and pilates options at their premises in the centre of Verbier.
What they also offer, something extra special, is Yoga at the mountain top. A short and scenic ride on the Médran mountain lift to Les Ruinettes, you cross from the station to the terrace of Le Mouton Noir Restaurant. This is where the class takes place – in front of an amazing backdrop of the Mont Blanc mountain range, the gondolas, walkers, mountain bikers and paragliders. This is the spectacular location for an hour long yoga session.
A mixed class of differing abilities, Svetlana, our Yoga instructor eased us in with some gentle warm up exercises. The class was geared to all talents, with three options for differing abilities (beginners for me). She guided us through the class and calmly gave instructions and rhythm for breathing and holding poses. The location, the exercise and the mindfulness time left me feeling really good at the end of the class. All members of the class were very lovely and welcoming, the whole experience felt like time with friends, not a class of strangers I had met that morning.
All bookings for Yoga can be made directly via Wholey Cow.
9. Sample the local food
There may be no Apres-Ski, but there is certainly the need to chill and wind down after a hard day of hiking or biking. You’re never too far from a bar or restaurant in the resort centre. Notable restaurants to mention were Chez Martin and Le Millenium, both of which are located centrally.
A smart and stylish restaurant, Chez Martin provided a friendly welcome and the menu consisted of local foods, meat, fish and a selection of Italian dishes. A starter of tasty beef carpaccio, followed by a saffron risotto with slow cooked beef ragu and washed down with a hearty glass of Pinot.
Le Millenium, located on the corner of Rue Medran had the option of outdoor or indoor seating. The interior was cosy and welcoming with low hanging lamps, dark wood and traditional features creating a lovely dining atmosphere. A perfectly cooked tuna with wasabi on a blini as a starter, followed by Yakitori beef skewers and fried polenta as the main. Beautifully presented and the flavours were divine. Washed down with a glass of local Gamay, it was a really enjoyable dining experience.
10. Customise your own sunglasses
With Verbier being geared up for the busy winter season, there is no shortage of bars, restaurants and shopping options in the resort. The ski gear may be put away but there are stores selling summer hiking and biking gear as well as accessories.
We were invited to SunGod’s Basecamp in the resort centre. If you haven’t heard of SunGod before, they are a super cool company that sell innovative and stylish sunglasses, snow goggles and accessories that are built to last and suitable for all of your outdoor adventures. Predominantly an online retailer, the recently opened flagship store in Verbier is a space where people can come in, design their own sunglasses from a wide range of options, grab a beer or a coffee and chill out in cool surroundings. With views out across the mountains, who could blame them for setting up office here!
SunGod have so much confidence in their product that they carry a lifetime guarantee. They are durable and hard wearing, but also really cool and customisable. We were given some information about eh history of the company, before being shown the ranges of sunglasses on offer. From here we could create our own sunglasses, selection frames, lenses and details from a range of colours and styles. The clarity of the lenses is amazing, and they are a really comfortable fit.
We were gifted sunglasses from SunGod, which we were able to customise to suit our tastes.
Where to stay on a Verbier summer break
There are a variety of accommodation options in Verbier, ranging from self-catering chalets, Airbnb’s to several hotels of varying star ratings.
We stayed for three nights at the 3 star Hotel Bristol on the Route des Creux. A lovely family run hotel, the welcome was friendly and personable. The hotel rooms have been recently redecorated and are simple but stylish, with splashes of colour and wood panelling – providing a nod to the architecture of the area. The rooms were large and airy, featuring a king size bed, desk area, large wardrobe, mini bar and a balcony providing the most stunning views of the mountain ranges around Verbier.
Breakfast was included in the room rate. A continental buffet style breakfast with hot offerings such as bacon and eggs, served in a lovely bright conservatory. The lobby area has a small bar and seating area. It was the perfect base to explore the town and surrounding area. There was no onsite restaurant, but given the location in the centre of the resort, everything was on the doorstep. We were made to feel really welcome during our stay. The couple that run the hotel are super friendly, and they have the most amazing dog. I can’t lie, I wandered into the lobby area far more often than I needed to, hoping for a doggy encounter.
Hotel Bristol : https://www.bristol-verbier.ch/
Route des Creux 4
Tel : +41 27 771 65 77
Prices from CHF173 / £138.00 per room per night based on a twin room
Getting to Verbier
Verbier is located in the south east of Switzerland, and can be easily reached by plane, train or by car. We flew from London Heathrow to Geneva with Swiss International Air Lines – a short flight of less than 1.5 hours. From Geneva Airport, we took a scenic train journey which followed the Swiss edge of Lake Geneva, before arriving at Martigny.
A transfer at Martigny railway station onto the St. Bernard Express train which whisked us into the mountains to Le Chable. From Le Chable you can either take the gondola, the local bus or a taxi to Verbier, which is a 15 minute journey.
To conclude, I would thoroughly recommend a Verbier summer break. In fact, we have been discussing returning again to enjoy some more time at the resort. I’ve spend many summer holidays in the mountains of Europe including trips to the Italian Dolomites and the Salzkammergut region of Austria. All have their similarities in that the scenery is incredible, but each place has a different vibe. To use the wording from the VIP Pass promotional material, this truly is an Infinite Playground. A place for everyone to enjoy with activities to suit all. The perfect summer mountain destination.
To read about my trip to the Italian Dolomites, click here.
Switzerland Tourism: For more information on Switzerland visit www.MySwitzerland.com or call International freephone 00800 100 200 30.
Flights: Flights can be booked with Swiss Airlines www.swiss.com/gb/en
SWISS operates more than 170 weekly flights to Switzerland from London Heathrow, London City, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh (seasonal during summer) and Dublin from as little as £55 one-way* (Economy Light fare only includes hand luggage). The all-inclusive fares start from £71 one-way*, including all airport taxes, one piece hold luggage and hand luggage, meals and drinks. Sport equipment and bikes can travel at attractive prices with the all-inclusive fares.
Transfers by train: The Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between the airport/Swiss border and destination. Prices are £112 in second class and £182 in first class.
Have you visited Verbier during the summer season?
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