Chemin du Vignoble: Branson - Saillon (stage 1)
Valais/Wallis Promotion Verified partner Explorers Choice
Hikers on the Wine trail in FullyPhoto: David Carlier, CC BY-ND, Valais/Wallis Promotion
The first stage of the long-distance Chemin du Vignoble leads from near Martigny to the pretty medieval village of Saillon, through ancient terraced vineyards.
The Chemin du Vignoble (“Vineyard Trail”) leads through the sunny terraced vineyards on the north side of the Rhône valley, linking picturesque villages that have given their names to many of the most prestigious wines of Valais.
The route exists in three versions – for motorists, cyclists and walkers – which follow slightly different itineraries. The version for hikers (SwitzerlandMobility/Suisse Rando route 36) extends for 65 km over 4 stages, of which this walk from Branson to Saillon is the first.
The hike mostly skirts the upper edges of the winemaking villages, revealing sweeping views across the Rhône valley, the orchards that cover its floor, and the mountains beyond.
The climate here is exceptionally sunny and dry, which has given rise to Mediterranean-style vegetation with cacti as well as fig, olive and almond trees. Part of the route leads along a nature trail through an ancient chestnut forest, focus of an annual chestnut festival.
The sleepy villages along the way are full of charm, culminating in Saillon, recently voted the prettiest village in French-speaking Switzerland. Allow time for a stroll through its twisting alleys and up to its clifftop medieval castle, with panoramic views from the roof terrace.
- Winemaking villages – picturesque, historic and full of charm
- Mediterranean-style flora – thanks to the sunny, dry climate
- Saillon – medieval village with castle ruins and museum. Close by: “Vigne à Farinet” (world’s smallest vineyard, trail illustrated with stained-glass windows); “Passerelle à Farinet” (suspension footbridge over gorge), open-air theatre with falconry displays, etc.; “Les Bains de Saillon” thermal baths
Walk (or re-walk) the route in autumn, when the vineyards become a sea of red, yellow and gold.
Use of the trails and the information on this website is at hikers’ own risk. Local conditions may entail changes to routes. Valais/Wallis Promotion accepts no liability for the accuracy and completeness of information on this website.
For all hikes:
- Bring a map. Download full description of this route including large-scale map by clicking on “Print” icon, top right of this page.
- Use marked trails only, and observe all signposting – for your own safety, to safeguard grazing animals and to avoid disturbing wildlife.
- Close gates after passing through.
- Please be considerate to other trail users, and to the plants and animals.
- Do not leave any waste in nature.
For mountain hikes:
- Take extra care protecting yourself from the sun at altitude. UV radiation can be exceptionally strong, even in cloudy weather.
- Plan hike carefully: take into consideration fitness level of each participant, weather forecast and season.
- Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains, without warning. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In uncertain weather, turn back in good time.
For high-altitude hikes:
- Inform others of the route you plan to take. Whenever possible, avoid going alone.
- Do not venture onto glaciers without a mountain guide.
- Take note of the warning signs that point out the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs: water levels may rise rapidly without warning.
Tips and hints
More information about the destination:
From its starting point at the bridge over the Rhône, the trail immediately begins climbing through the terraced vineyards to the village of Branson. Above Fully – considered capital of the Petite Arvine grape – the trail leads along a nature trail through a chestnut forest and down to a historical hydroelectric power station converted into an attractive performance venue (“La Belle Usine”). The trail does not descend to the centre of Fully, but follows a high line through the vineyards, skimming the upper edges of the winemaking villages of La Fontaine, Châtaignier, Saxé and Mazembroz. The route then drops down to the floor of the valley, following the Canal de Gru irrigation channel towards Saillon. A final climb leads to the heart of the medieval village.
Public transportBy train to Martigny, then bus to Branson (Pont du Rhône). Find full timetable information at sbb.ch
A9 motorway, exit 21 (Martigny-Fully). Follow signs to Fully. The walk begins at the bridge across the Rhône.
Park in Saillon, and take bus to start of walk. Follow the car park routeing in Saillon.
Book recommendation by the author
Author’s map recommendations
- good footwear
- clothing suitable for the weather: always carry a waterproof jacket
- hat or cap
- bottle for water
- binoculars (optional)
- hiking poles (optional)
- printout of this hike (click “Print” icon, to download)
For certain walks:
- 2 Waypoints
- 2 Waypoints
Questions and answers
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