The “bisses” of Valais are historical irrigation channels built to carry precious water from the glaciers to the fields, orchards and vineyards. At the beginning of the 20th century, Valais boasted about 200 bisses totalling 1,800 km, all built laboriously by hand. In recent years, many have been restored carefully.
This walk follows the course of two bisses, built in the 15th century to carry water to the fields above Conthey. Both are fed by meltwater from the Tsanfleuron Glacier on the massif of Les Diablerets. Each has its own character and reveals glorious views.
The walk begins at the start of the first channel, the Petit Bisse, where it is fed by the river of La Morge. The bisse still carries water every summer, from early June to the end of October. The delightful path follows alongside, through forest and pastures, as far as a micro-hydro power station at Mayens-de-My – where the water flows into the Bisse de la Tsandra.
The water of this second bisse no longer flows at the surface but through a sequence of underground pipes. A theme trail follows its route, with 24 information panels that explore the history of the bisses, describe the natural habitats along the way and reveal secrets of local wildlife. Along two particularly picturesque stretches, the water flows in the open.
The path is easy, with the gentlest of downhill slopes all the way – apart from one short section where the trail drops from the first bisse to the second. The views, too, are glorious the length of the trail: at first of the wild gorge of La Morge, and later over the vast sweep of the Rhône valley, across its orchards and vineyards to the snow-capped peaks beyond.
- Delightful gently sloping trail through forest and across meadows
- Petit Bisse – working irrigation channel, flowing with water during the summer
- Bisse de la Tsandra – theme trail exploring the bisses, their history and local wildlife
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, hints and links
More information about the destinations:
Getting thereA9 motorway, exit 25 (Conthey). Follow signs for Conthey, Daillon and Sanetsch. Hikers who park at Grand-Zour will have to walk back to their car, as there are no viable connections from Aven back to Grand-Zour by public transport.
ParkingAt Grand-Zour, next to the restaurant
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: