Saint-Léonard Things to Do
Bisses are water channels built along the hills and mountains in the Canton du Valais in order to water - in this case here - the vineyards. You can hike along them which is very pleasant as the path is only slightly going downhill (ie if you hike from St. Léonard to Sion). But first you need to walk uphill maybe about 50-100 m altitude difference to reach them.
Along the water channels you will find various information but unfortunately not in English. The views from this panorama path are great. You can see down the Rhône valley.The hike from St. Léonard to Sion takes about 2,5 hours depending on how many times you stop to take pictures. From Friday till Sunday there is a wine lodge open where you can take a rest somewhere along the “bisses”, more towards Sion.
The church of St. Léonard is a prominent landmark. You will see it from afar. It’s a catholic church.Related to:
- Religious Travel
The underground lake of St. Léonard is the biggest of Europe with its 300 m length and 20 m width. The depth is up to 10 m. In 1943 Jean-Jacques Pittard discovered the lake. In 1949 it was made accessible to the public. Every year about 100’000 people visit it. The tour lasts 30 minutes.
The lake is accessible from 17th March until 1st November every year. The entry fee for adults is CHF 10.00 plus they will ask you for a tip for the guy rowing the boat. I found this outrageous as there isn’t actually that much to see and it’s next to impossible to take a decent picture in the dark hole. While they row you to the other end of the lake and back they tell you about some facts in German, French and on request in English and Italian. It’s quite fresh down there, so take something with long sleeves with you.
The sight is not accessible for wheel chairs. There is a steep and in places damp staircase down to the lake. The cave is plain. There are no stalactites etc. to be seen. You can buy souvenirs and postcards by the entrance/exit where there is also a snack bar and toilets. There are also toilets by the parking lot, too.Related to:
- Family Travel
We took the regional train which runs hourly to the station of St. Léonard. Make sure you take the regional train and not the regional express! From the station just follow the brown signs to the underground lake. It’s about a 15 minutes walk. You follow the road which takes you over the bridge over the railway tracks and then you turn right and later on left. You cannot get lost as there are brown signs along the way.
Other ways to get there:
By car to the parking lot and then a short uphill walk. By bus to Uvrier and then walk through the village.
By hiking from Sion along the Bisses de Clavau (see separate tip).Related to:
Favorite thing: The small river Lienne coming down the mountain is dividing St. Léonard and Uvrier. Uvrier still belongs to Sion.
When you start hiking the Bisses de Clavau from the center of St. Léonard, you will come through Uvrier as you will cross the river Lienne. On this bridge you will find all the hiking signs pointing you uphill in the right direction.
In the center of St. Léonard and Uvrier you will also find a few restaurants and cafés and a grocery shop if you need some last minute shopping before your hike.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Favorite thing: On the hike through the vineyards you will encounter white and red grapes. In August most of them were already fully grown and we saw workers tending the vines by chopping off the top of the plant.
In St. Léonard and surroundings there are several wine cellars where you can taste wine and buy it. Some of the white grapes are made into Fendant wine, which is a famous type of wine in Switzerland.
Favorite thing: The views over the Rhône valley on the hike along the Bisses de Clavau were fantastic. One could see St. Léonard from above and later when approaching Sion, you will see Sion's golf course and the football stadium of FC Sion. Also you will notice the distinct hills of Valère and Tourbillon within the city limits of Sion.