Tourist brochures tout Sion as "capital of Swiss California" calling it a "warm, sunny land of vineyards, orchards, strawberry and raspberry fields." Like several other Swiss destinations, local boosters claim Sion has the country's best climate with the least rainfall and the most days of sunshine. Whether true or not, it is an area to be visited in any weather. In winter, Sion is the center of the val d'Herens ski region including such little-known (in this country) villages as Arolla, Evolène, Nax, La Sage, Thyon, Les Collons and others. Most are within a few minutes drive of Sion. On the slopes of the Rhône are thousands of acres of steeply-terraced vineyards. The rocky soil and sunshiny climate encourage several grape varieties and the wine trade flourishes.

Top Sights

  • Église Notre-Dame-de-Valère, a church with the world's oldest playable organ
  • The ruins of the castle Tourbillon

Suggested Activities

  • Excursions to the mountain villages listed above

Places to Stay

  • Hotel des Vignes Uvrier/Saint-Léonard, CH-1958, Rue du Pont 9, tel. +41/027/203 1671, fax 205 3727. Doubles from about $105.

A Place to Dine

  • Order Zarzuela, a seafood stew at Au Cheval Blanc in the town center.