In Grimentz "summer starts on 21 June"....

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Thursday 26 June 2014

In Grimentz "summer starts on 21 June".... what the the helpful lady running the tourist information office told us, which was lucky as that's exactly the day we arrived. Having picked Grimentz out of the incredibly detailed guides we'd picked upin Martigny as being a beautiful example of a traditional alpine village and which also happened to have a site where motorhomes could park, according to our Camperstop Europe aire guide, it was nice to get this stroke of luck, which meant all the facilities, buses, cable cars etc had started running that day. 

We had been a bit stressed out by the drive up from the valley, rising 1000m on winding precipitous roads and listening to our 2L engine struggling in 2nd gear for an hour. Also, when we arrived the permitted motorhome camping spot was being resurfaced so we couldn't use it and would have cost an unexpected 15 Swiss francs anyway. So getting to tourist information and learning we had arrived in perfect time was a nice change of mood, plus there was another camping spot we could stay at for free just 200m away from the closed down one. Bonus.

However, the use of any facilities was contingent on paying the tourist tax. Tax is an emotive word anyway and my knee jerk reaction is always " why, do we have to?". But as the lady patiently explained the 2.50 Swiss francs (about £1.60) per person per day also meant we got a "Anniviers Liberte" card which gave us use of the local buses, cable cars, mini golf, nearby swimming pool completely free! Awesome. The best tax we'd ever paid really.

Grimentz, near the head of the Val d'Anniviers, itself is a beautiful, picture postcard mountain village, described in our tourist info as being famous for the sun blackened wooden houses decorated all around with red geraniums. It really does live up to the description. Walking through the village along narrow streets beneath towering multi storey wooden houses, with the scent of pine wafting through the air is magical and relaxing. Its also ridiculously quiet. Even early in the summer season as we are, we expected more people.

Away from the village we pitched our motorhome on a little field in the forest, alongside just one other motorhome and settled in. Even though it was late afternoon already, with the free cable car in offer and the sun shining we even squeezed in our first alpine hike, taking the cable up to Bendolla at 2133m and hiking a traverse route towards the base of the Moiry Barrage (Dam) about 2 hours away and from here back down a path along the glacial river back to our camping spot at Ilot Bisquot. We realised as we walked this was our fist real hike of any kind since I got ill in January, and it felt good to stretch the legs.  That evening we sat in the sun and cooked outside on our deck chairs as the sun set on the mountains.

Walk Information:

Motorhome Base: Grimentz
Transport Used: Cable Car to Bendolla.
Start/ End Point: Bendolla - Base of the Moiry Barrage - Grimentz
Time Taken: 3 hours
Level: Easy / Moderate
Map: LS 1327 'Evolene' 1:25,000 (see below)

After a peaceful night, waking to the sound of cow bells, and a longer hike was in the offing. This time we took the free bus up to the Moiry Barrage and took the hike around the right hand side of the reservoir.  At the end of the reservoir we started the ascent on the glacial moraine alongside the impressive Moiry Glacier. We were aiming for the Cabane de Moiry at 2825m but at around 2600m the way was blocked by too much snow for our chosen footwear that day. Never mind, the return route high route (signed the '2500m Tour of the Reservoir') above the reservoir back towards the barrage was stunning. The only downside was the mid afternoon thunderstorm that blew in around 2pm and caught us out just as we'd set up for cooking our lunch.  After a quick running dash down the mountainside back to the bus stop motivated the heavy rain and thunder, we fortunately we hitched a ride back to Grimentz with a very helpful local who turned out to be the husband of the tourist information lady we'd met the day before.  Grimentz is a small place! Afternoon thunderstorms are a hazard we'll have to get used to in this part of the world, but with a 5 hour hike in our legs we were ready to sit down.

Walk Information:

Motorhome Base: Grimentz
Transport Used: Bus to Moiry Barrage
Start/ End Point: Moiry Barrage - Cabane de Moiry - Moiry Barrage (via the 'high route') 
Total Distance: 7km (one way to the hut)
Time It Took Us: 5 hours
Level: Moderate / Hard
Map: LS 1327 'Evolene' 1:25,000 (see below)

Whiling away the afternoon relaxing our motorhome and listening to the rain and thunder, we realised that our plan to stay just one night was silly. There is just so much to do in Grimentz and the Liberte card makes it so easy. We'd get back to the tourist office the next day and buy at least 2 more days.

After our second night in Grimentz we had a later start and headed to purchase another round of tourist tax to extend our use of the incredible facilities on offer but we still found ourselves at the top of the free cable car at Bendolla by 11. Unfortunately today's thunderstorm was forecast a little earlier so we were keeping a very close eye on the clouds building up after being caught out the day before. We headed towards Roc d'Orziel (2785m) and on the way struck up a conversation with a lovely English couple Robin and Shirley. They had bought an apartment in Grimentz 3 years ago and were full of suggestions for hikes, places to visit and extra things we could use our Liberte card. With our aim to let the people we meet guide our route, we had a wonderful time talking to Robin and Shirley and came away with lots of excursions nearby in the Val d'Anniviers.

Continuing our hike, the view opened up back over to the Moiry glacier we had visited the day before and the imposing peaks of Weisshorn, Bisshorn and Dent Blanche joined up by 'lower' peaks. Sadly, we were again blocked by snow around 2600m, but with clouds gathering it was time to turn around anyway. Arriving back at the cable car we bumped into Robin and Shirley again and they invited us to have a cup of tea. Never one to refuse a tea we gratefully accepted and not a moment too soon as the thunder rumbled and the heavens opened just as we stepped inside.

Walk Information:

Motorhome Base: Grimentz
Transport Used: Cable car to Bendolla 2150m
Start/ End Point: Bendolla - Roc Roc d'Orziel (2785m) - Bendolla
Time It Took Us: approx 3 hours
Level: Moderate
Map: LS 1327 'Evolene' 1:25,000 (see below)

Their apartment was beautiful, with balconies front and back overlooking then peaks. They rent it out for much of the year but enjoy it themselves when it is not occupied. If you're interested, and dont want to drive a motorhome al the way to Switzerland, I'd recommend checking their website, They are very friendly and the apartment is idyllic, summer or winter.

We had a lovely afternoon hiding from the rain, swapping stories travel and learning more about the area. They explained that the area is primarily a ski resort, but is always quiet as tourists head to the more famous destinations like Zermatt, with locals using this quieter valley for their own weekends. Apparently the valley takes its name from the fact life is so hard here that villagers had to make the journey to the valley year round to sell produce to survive, hence the Val d'Anniviers (people on the road all year round). Thanks to Robin and Shirley we made up our minds to extend our stay even more and use the free buses to get out of Grimentz and see the other villages in Val d'Anniviers as well. They really opened our eyes to how extensive this card was and how much you can save. Plus, Shirley's idea to use the pools as a great way to have a hot shower with more than 10l of warm water is brilliant. 

That night as the rain continued to come down hard we mapped put the excursions we would take from Grimentz over the coming days and felt very lucky to have stumbled upon such a perfect, quiet valley to get into the high mountains again (even if it does rain in the afternoons). 

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Here are some favourite pictures - but check out the photo gallery - there are just too many to post here:


  1. What a beautiful place! I think the joy of being in the van is that you can change your plans and have the flexibility to stay somewhere like that longer, and at next to no extra cost either. Everywhere should have that tourist tax, sounds great.

    Thumper and Missy are having a holiday of their own this weekend, they've been moved into my bedroom for a few days while my parents have visitors and need the spare room back as a spare room! They've settled in well, and they're lovely to wake up to.

    Enjoy the rest of Austria! Erica xxx

  2. Hi Erica, thank you. It is a fantastic place. I'd massively recommend it to anybody, summer or winter.

    Pleased to hear Thumper and Missy are having their own holiday. I saw a big marmot the other day running across the slopes with his hair blowing in the wind and thought of Thumper. As long as they don't keep you up with midnight munching.

    We're moving on tomorrow so will have to see where we end up next....

  3. Shirley and Robin very kindly invited us into their lovely apartment for a cup of tea after meeting them on the hills in June 2014. Because of their enthusiasm, kind advice and the route suggestions they gave us we decided to stay in Val d'Anniviers longer than originally planned and later even returned in September 2014, because like them we had fallen in love with the valley. Shirley has recently emailed to ask us if we would pass on the following details about their apartment which they let out when they are not using it. As they helped us so much I wanted to return the favour. It is a lovely apartment and they'd just finished putting a new kitchen in when we visited them. The location was very central and close to the lifts. Although this information is current for 2016 - if anyone reads this past the dates listed and is interested please do get in touch with Shirley.

    We still have two weeks available for the 2016 ski season.

    Saturday 5th March to Saturday 12 March and
    Saturday 19 March to Saturday 26 March

    We would be pleased to offer either of these weeks to you, your family or friends for £700/week inclusive of end-of-stay cleaning, tourist tax and bed linen for up to five people. These prices represents discounts of over 25% on the recommended prices from our local Grimentz agent.

    Full details of the Apartment and Grimentz are on our

    A recent CNN feature rated Grimentz as the “second” most beautiful ski resort in the Alps. (We may be biased but we would rate it “No.1”!) Grimentz also has a great snow record with high altitude north facing pistes which are well maintained, as well as the acres of off-piste slopes for which it is famous. Also, we have 8 five-star reviews on Holiday Lettings/Trip Advisor, where it is featured as Apartment Bon Sejour - but please contact me direct rather than via those sites as the deal is not as good for either party!

    We would, of course, be happy to provide advice to anyone about on the cheapest and most convenient travel options and information on ski pass and ski hire deals.

    Alternatively, or as well as a ski holiday, Grimentz is a great place for a summer or autumn holiday if you enjoy stunning scenery, walking amongst the wild flowers and butterflies or just 'chillaxing' and there is the added bonus of free local buses, cable cars and many sports facilities. If you would be interested on a longer holiday in say May or October, November we could offer you a very good deal as this most definitely 'off-peak' and yet the place is still fantastic.


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