The bisses are one of the Valais region’s best kept
secrets. Accessible directly from Haute Nendaz, nearly 100km of
these beautiful paths provide some of the most glorious walks
we’ve experienced. The Telecabine and lift systems run
throughout the summer from late June until late September – a
much longer period than many other mountain resorts in the
These routes are very well maintained paths that run
alongside water channels linking the mountain villages of the
area. Many were originally built in medieval times and provided
the area with much-needed irrigation.
Some of the more remote and higher bisses were
constructed on bare rock faces – a task considered so dangerous
long ago that only condemned men were sent to build them.
However, the vast majority of bisses are gently sloping
so despite the altitude, most people of all ages and reasonable
levels of fitness will enjoy them. They follow the natural
contours of the mountain and run through forests and through the
Very much a family affair, one can see generations of
local families in their Sunday Best striding to lunch, then
enjoying a leisurely stroll back to Nendaz. Having said that, in
our experience it is possible to walk the entire length of a
bisse without meeting a single soul on the way. Planchouet has a
couple of good restaurants with interior and exterior eating
areas, and has a beautiful hand-crafted wooden chapel situated
next to a picnic-area. Several streams and bisse
walks join together here, forming quite a river at the top of
Each bisse has its own unique character.
Bisse Vieux (Old Bisse) runs from near the Telecabine
piste in Haute Nendaz to Planchouet (about 6km), begins by going
through shady pine forests, rounds the ‘corner’ of the mountain
then follows the valley towards Mont Fort. This bisse’s waterway
is excellently maintained and flows year-round.
Bisse Mileau runs from Planchouet at 1505m is a little
lower down the mountain than Bisse Vieux, and has many beautiful
waterfalls en route back to Haute Nendaz at 1500m (another 6km
Bisse en Bas (Lower Bisse) runs from Saclenteuse to
Planchouet and of these three local bisse is the least used.
Higher up the mountain runs Bisse de Salins from
Saclenteuse to Planchouet.
Above this is the Grand Bisse de Vex, which runs from
Mayens de Sion at 1325m, through picturesque Veysonnaz high
above the Rhone Valley, to Planchouet.
The highest - and in our opinion one of the most scenic
is the Ancien Bisse de Cherve that begins in Thyon at 2000m,
runs along the lofty Combatseline ridge and round to Lac de
Cleuson at 2186m. We saw eagles wheeling above us on this
bisse. Lac de Cleuson is a man-made lake dammed at one end, and
the waters are a spectacular turquoise colour.
Lac de Cleuson
The route we took
started at the Siviez chairlift up to Combatseline, round the
lake, across the dam, back down the front of the dam face, then
down to Siviez – around 13km in distance and 5 hours in duration
including a picnic lunch break.
A now-dry bisse is the Bisse de Saxon. This can be
picked up close to Haute Nendaz, and runs in the opposite
direction towards Les Riddes. One of the longest bisses, it
starts in Siviez and runs near to Haute Nendaz then past
Prarion, passes close to La Tzoumaz and onwards. This bisse hugs
the craggier parts of the mountain and visits several isolated
farming hamlets. It is not uncommon to see local farming
families herding their prize bull to market – just remember the
old hiking code of never putting a large animal between you and
the rock face!
Bisse de Saxon
The views along all the bisses are spectacular and a
camera is a must-have accessory. With just a little planning, it
is possible to walk from Haute Nendaz and have lunch at one of
the strategically placed mountain cafes and restaurants. If you
prefer a more rustic approach, a packed lunch can be eaten at
numerous scenic viewpoints along the way.
Maps of the bisses can be obtained from the Tourist
Office, or downloaded from the link below.
Having the correct footwear and clothing is essential,
and there are several very good sports outfitters in Haute
Nendaz. Mountain huts and cafes are frequently shut in summer,
so carrying adequate supplies of water/soft drinks is very
important. The weather can change very rapidly in the mountains,
so we always carry waterproofs and warmer clothing no matter how
good the weather appears first thing.
If you would like to familiarize yourself with the area before
you arrive we have provided a walking route map in PDF format below.
Click the image below to view the map on your screen. To
save the map to your computer, right-click the image below and then
choose Save Target (or Link) As...
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on your computer. If you find that you cannot view the map, use
the image below to visit Adobe's website and install Acrobat Reader,
then come back here when you're done!