Explore the side streets and alleys of the old town with the camera. The ground plan is a maze, it is hard to suggest a route. Poke your nose ito the side alleys. You won't lose your way, you will come across signposts and open views towards one of the castles every now and then, no worries. Look for street views and details like doors, lamp posts...
The general appearance of Sion is more French than Swiss - the town is not far from the "language border" between German- and French-speaking Switzerland, but the influence of French culture and architecture is strong.
More photos in the travelogues!
The three political flags that are relevant for Sion and can be found on public buildings go well together. It is a coincidence but they look like a carefully designed decoration.
ALl three use the same colours: red and white (= silver). In the middle here, there is the Swiss flag with the white cross on red ground. On the left there is the flag of the Canton of Valais: vertically divided in red and white, with three rows of stars (4 - 5- 4) in the respective other colour. On the right, the flag of the city of Sion: also divided vertically in red and white with two red stars in the white field.
Favorite thing: When walking the streets and alleys of the old town, note the street lamps. They are of course electric but shaped like old-fashioned lanterns. Most of them are attached to facades or corners of houses with wrought-iron "arms". These are not only delicate pieces of craftsmanship - the best about them is that they are all different. I cannot remember seeing any two alike. They all have different shapes and ornaments, most have gilded and/or coloured parts.
Favorite thing: We arrived at Sion by car. We needed a car park so as we could have a look at this town. We drove around and around, and couldn't find one, then we happened to see the Car Park sign for an underground car-park. This was located underneath the big Town Square, and was by far the best way to park our car.
One of the most stunning viewpoints I enjoyed during my weekend in
Sion (Switzerland) , was the one from the terrace of the CHATEAU DE VALERE (pic n°1).
From here, the Old town lies beneath your feet with its churches,
the Rhone, another hill and with a wonderful backdrop: the Alps!
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Rich in sunny valleys and high mountain peaks, Switzerland enjoys a wide range of wildlife and botanical habitats. Thanks to the huge difference in altitude, climate and vegetation zones, there’s nearly always something of interest to see, whether you’re a dedicated naturalist, expert botanist or just a visitor with an interest in the overall mountain environment.
Walking along a path, you will discover a huge variety of small flowers, beehives in a wonderful location, a small devotional chapel and a peaceful atmosphere.
It was so nice discovering meadowlands full of small flowers which add some colours to the “alps”.
I have not green fingers but it was a pleasure taking pictures of flowers, until a wonderful blue butterfly appeared . . .
In spite of the Contemporary Swiss Architecture is considered particularly innovative, we all know more about TRADIONAL WOODEN HOUSES than the recent projects by the Swiss architects Mario Botta and Herzog & de Meuron.
Traditional houses in the mountains were built by wood the ever growing material.
The traditional Square Timber Style is a very old and durable way of building a house.
You can find houses hundreds of years old that are built that way and still in good condition. Key factors are a good roof, regularly maintained, and a solid foundation that keeps the moisture from raising into the wood structure from the ground. Often a big overhang on the roof is used to protect the sides from the elements. Often there is also a big stone over the stilts to protect the wood . . . from the mice!! (thanks Patrick for this interesting note :)
Not only the structure of houses is made of wood but often also the facades of houses are richly decorated using woodcarving.
Below few words in French that you can use while visiting Switzerland.
Yes/No = Oui/Non
Yes, please/No, thank you = Oui, s'il vous plaît/Non, merci
Please = S'il vous plaît
Thank you = Merci (madame/monsieur)
You're welcome = Il n'y a pas de quoi
Here is/are = Voici...
Hello/Good morning/afternoon = Bonjour, (madame/monsieur)
Hello/Good evening = Bonsoir (madame/monsieur)
Goodbye = Au revoir
Good night = Bonne nuit
How are you? = Comment allez-vous?
Very well, thanks = Très bien, merci
Excuse me = Excusez-moi
Do you speak English? = Est-ce que vous parlez anglais?
Can you help me? = Est-ce que vous pouvez m'aider?
I don't understand. = Je ne comprends pas.
I don't know. = Je ne sais pas.
Could you please write it down = Est-ce que vous pouvez l'écrire?
Sorry = Désolé(e)
Where? = Où?
When? = Quand?
How? = Comment?
Why? = Pourquoi?
Who? = Qui?
Which? = Lequel?/Laquelle?
Where is...? = Où est...?
How much? = Combien?
How many? = Combien?
What's that? = Qu'est-ce que c'est?
I like it. = Ça me plaît.
I don't like it. = Ça ne me plaît pas.
OK/Agreed. = Ça va/d'accord.
That's fine. = C'est bien.
The most common European emergency number 112 (following Directive 2002/22/EC: Universal Service Directive) and also standard on GSM mobile phones. 112 is used in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom in addition to their other emergency numbers.
Here are some useful phone numbers that you might need while in Switzerland:
Road emergency: 140
Psychological support (free and anonymous): 143
Psychological support for teens and children (free and anonymous): 147
Helicopter air-rescue (Rega): 1414 or by radio on 161.300 MHz
Air rescue (Air Glaciers) (in Valais only): 1415
It is always better to be informed about road conditions.
So for this reason here's a website that wil tell you every Swiss tunnel and mountain pass status, open or closed.
The large pedestrianised Place de la Planta is the main square in the city centre of Sion.
It is probably the perfect starting point to explore the town centre as you find not only the Tourist Information Centre here, but also the bike stand of "Sion roule".
The square is surrounded by a few interesting sights.
Among them are the Government Palace (Palais du Gouvernement), the Diocese Museum (Musée de l'Evêché) and a monument commemorating the centenary of the integration of the Valais into the Swiss Confederation.
One of the highlights of our time in Sion was a visit of the sound and light show "Sion en lumière".
It is a free of charge event which in summer takes place every day at 22:15 h. A schedule for the rest of the year is available at the tourist information office.
At the starting time, people gather on the left side of the Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville), where blue light points guide a way along the illuminated buildings up to a place just below
both the Valère and Tourbillion Castle.
Here a mysterious story from the middle ages is told and accompanied by fantastic dynamic illuminations of the two castles. The whole event lasts about 45 minutes.
I really liked walking around the center and the old part of Sion.
I think I never saw so many open air cafés in a small town before (picture 1). I also liked the building of the "Conservatory of Music" in picture 2.
A real favourite of mine was the modern style fountain (picture 3) with its small green glass pebbles, the water play and the comfortable seating. On this small square off Place de la Planta and next to the police station there is also an ice cream parlour.
Walking through the small streets towards the hill you cross a small river and you will see many gorgeous street scenes (pictures 4 and 5).