A Swiss Summer: Holidays in Thyon Les Collons, Switzerland
Switzerland has a rich reputation: a place to visit if, and only if, you have millions to deposit tax-free into a swiss bank account and can spend the lavish difference in swish hotels and restaurants. Admitting that you can't believe everything you watch on James Bond is the first step to a sensational and affordable swiss holiday.
Busting the biggest myth: you pay about £3 for a pint in Switzerland, not the extortionate/Norwegian tenner. It's no Czech dreamland of £1 pints and 30p vodkas, nor is it the shocking prices of the Scandanavian countries. It's somewhere inbetween, like... Britain.
With the most serious issue dealt with, we can move on to look at the unsung heros of Swiss holidays, who sit beside the more fashionable and pricey resorts, offering the same natural beauty, cultural quirks and extreme sports at a pinch of the price. Thyon Les Collons is one of these heros, overshadowed by the bigger, bossier Verbier.
Thyon Les Collons hosts one of the toughest moutain bike races in the world - the Grand Raid Cristalp. Held on the 23rd and 24th August, the 131km race traverses six valleys with a total altitude difference of 4600 metres. Throughout the year, the trail that tests the physically toughest bikers around is open to all of the daring bikers that visit. Yet, across the expansive mountain sides there are trail suitable for everyone. Closest to Thyon is a great beginners trail for children to try. It takes about half an hour to complete and you get a good tour of Les Collons, seeing most of the main features.
Mountain Scooters or 'Trottinettes'
Discover the beauty of a panoramic view from the top of Thyon 2000 and gently weave your way down the mountain taking in the amazing scenery. Adapted for children’s safety, this is a fantastic and safe family alternative to mountain biking. The trail is 2 km and helmets are provided for safety. Prices start from £10 for children and £12 for adults.
Enjoy a drink with a guide while they present a programme of weekly activities.
- You can start with a leisurely walk along the bisse of Vex, a pathway along the old irrigation canals, generally with very little altitude variation providing an easy start to the week (Monday, £6-£15).
- Then, explore the forests and see if you can spot the local wildlife. All you need are a pair of binoculars (unless you have super good eye sight), a pair of walking boots, some warm clothes and a good alarm clock as it starts a 5am, the best time to spot the wildlife (£5- £10).
- Visit the educational farm, see the animals and discover the way of rural mountain life interactively (£10-£20).
- Or try some delicious Swiss cheese on the high pastures of Thyon (£5-£10).
- If you’re a more experienced walker, want a bit of a challenge and some superlative sights there is an excursion to the Grande Dixence. A guided tour around the highest dam in the world at the Lake Dixence, with a beautiful view of the biggest lake above 2000 m in the alps.
- Follow this with a picnic by the lake and a walk along the high path to Les Collons and you have a wonderful day out.
Theme paths. Learn about the tradition and history of Les Collons and the surrounding area on one of four interesting and informative theme paths. Chose from Grande bisse de Vex, Les Lutins Didactiques, le Rallye des enigmes and Theme path at Mache.
Try the via ferrata or ‘iron road’ for a safer climbing experience. It is an undulating 220m climbing route picking it’s way up the rocky slopes of the mountain. Use your via ferrata kit securing you to a steel cable and scramble your way up using the iron rung provided if things get a bit difficult. Depending on your experience it will take between 1 and 2 hours. Contact the tourist office (Bureau des Guides et Accompagnateurs ) for pricing information.
For an amazing climbing experience try scaling the Pierre Avoi, overlooking Saxon. With a few pinnacles and magnificent scenery a high mountain guide will accompany you to show you the ropes. From £70 per person for 4 people for half a day to £105 for a full day the prices are extremely competitive.
Enjoy the peaceful serenity of a gold course? Try your putting skills onf Thyon’s 18 hole course situated in a hollow in the Rhone valley approximately 30 minutes drive from Les Collons. For family fun you can play 9 hole mini golf from just a couple of pounds per person. Somewhere between quirky culture and outdoor activities is the brand new sport Disc Golf. It is a lot like regular golf, only the ball has been severly squashed into the shape of a Frisbee. Combining the fun and amusement of Frisbee with simple rules results in a relaxing afternoon with a bit of added competition to spice it up. But don’t lose your Frisbee up a tree. With a picnic spot and a restaurant soak up the idyllic scenery. Around £4.
Sentier suspend Exciting obstacle course up in the trees and on the ground. Guides are available to help £30-40 per day.
Horse Riding Have a lesson and ride a pony or horse around the ranch (£25-30, 30-60 mins) or enjoy a brisk canter under your own steam (and the horses) around the tracks (£25- 35, 60- 90 mins).
See the mountain and forest from a different perspective. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you glide effortlessly through the crisp mountain air approximately £49
With the ski lifts still in operation throughout the summer you can ride to the top of the Trabanta and walk, hike or mountain bike your way back down. Prices are reasonable at around £9 for adults, £7 for juniors and £5 for infants with family tickets available.
Try the multi sport area and have a few games of tennis, football, basketball, volleyball and/or badminton.
Spend 5-6 days learning the skills of walking on a glacier and stay in a mountain hut. £1140- cost includes the mountain guide and half board at the mountain huts available in June and August.
Each year, towards the end of June and in the first few days of July, the combative Eringer (Hérens) cows of the Valais fight for the title of "Queen". Cowfight fever starts as soon as the winter ends, with regional qualifiers held from March, culminating in the final battle in Thyon, where one proud cat-fighting bovine will be crowned the winner.
There is hardly a single resort in the Valais that doesn't throw itself heart and soul into the crazy festivities. Colourful carnival parades bring the streets to life, the boisterous carnival bands play their music, there are prizes for the best masks in the children's carnival events, and the bars and restaurants are alive with celebrations until the early hours of the morning. The carnival Mecca is Monthey, but in Upper Valais carnival is also celebrated enthusiastically.
Want to visit?
Chalet Etoile in Les Collons provides you with a perfect base to explore all of this! Find out more
A camping experience for youngsters from 10 years of age- contact Paul Dayer +41 79-230 57 75.
Find more about what you can do in Thyons Les Collons here