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Home   >  Culture and Sports  >  Museums and heritage sites
The Issert Water Mill
The restored Issert water mill is open to the public.
Historians have discovered references to the changing of the grindstone around 1200... Who knows when it started milling the rye that was the local staple.

The mill shut around 1950 and was abandoned. The next generation seeing its decline decided to put a stop to it. The mill has been restored and today it turns as it always did, but for visitors now .

Oppikofer Gapany Alexandra (Details)
Traditional bread ovens
Many traditional bread ovens have survived and been restored.
If bakers now provide most of the bread in the main village, a lot of the outlying hamlets have kept their traditional bread ovens.

On the right bank there are ovens in La Rosière, Reppaz and Commeire. On the other side of the valley in Chez-les-Reuses, Soulalex, Verlonne and Prassurny and , along the Dranse in La Douay, Somlaproz and les Arlaches.

A village oven like this is called a "four banal".  This is name comes from the middle ages when a "ban" was a duty. The oven was built by the local lord and its use was obligatory. One was not allowed to bake bread elsewhere. The main reason for this was as a safety precaution against fire, one of the great scourges in times gone by, which could devastate villages built largely of wood when the only means of putting out a fire were buckets filled in the village fountain. All too often those who cooked their bread at home started a fire which ended by setting the whole hamlet alight.

The "Mai" at Praz-de-Fort

Putting up the "Mai" in Praz-de-Fort is an enduring tradition and a symbol of freedom and solidarity.

With origins back in Celtic times, the maypole then became a symbol of liberty at the time of the revolution and many villages still celebrated at the start of the twentieth century.

The tradition was reborn in praz-de-Fort in 1944 and has flourished ever since. On the first Sunday in May a tall spruce tree is taken to the village square. A few of the topmost branches are left and a flag is pinned to the very top. This flag has to be both Swiss and Valaisan to remind people that in this part of the world being Swiss is first and foremost a matter of belonging to a Canton.

The "Mai" as it is called is hoisted into place by the locals and their freinds. The technique is tried and tested and the annals of the "Mai" are rich with stories of wind, rain, snow and sun.  There was one particularly tall tree which, once upright, could not be secured and fell over the other side, breaking in two in process and another which served as the village lightning conductor losing its top in a thunderstorm in the summer.

The Flore-Alpe Botanical Garden, Champex-Lac

The Botanical Garden displays a vast range of species.  The flora are local and from the surrounding area but also from other European mountain massifs and further afield too.

The Flore-Alpe Botanical Garden is 1520 m (5,000 ft) above sea level at the foot of the south facing slopes of the Catogne, in the Commune of Orsières, at the western end of the Mont Blan massif.

An enchanting place, criss-crossed by paths and little streams snaking through the rockeries and little bridges spanning pools, the garden has an unparalleled view over the lake at Champex and the snowy Combin peaks. The underlying rock is siliceous but the construction of two large travertine massifs and a limestone scree allows lime loving plants to thrive too.

Spreading over nearly 6000 m2, "Flore-Alpe" houses more than 3,000 different plants (species, subspecies and varieties) coming not only from the Alps but all 5 continents making it one of the best endowed botanical gardens in the Alps.

To know more...
Jardin botanique alpin Flore-Alpe (Details)
The Artillery Fort in Champex

Discover the eerie atmosphere of this strange world. Hidden in the heart of the mountain is a fortress.

The artillery fort at Champex was the key element of the fortifications of the Great Saint Bernard area.

Built between 1940 and 1943, then modernised and refitted for a possible nuclear conflict during the Cold War, the fort was used by the army until 1998. There are more than 600 metres of tunnels dug though the mountain. Totally invisible from outside, the fort could house 300 men.

Opening hours :
Wednesday to Sunday, from 20.06 to 30.06 and from 03.09 to 07.09, at 5.00 pm
Wednesday to Sunday, from 01.07 to 30.09, at 2.00 pm and 4.30 pm
Visit on request for groups

Rates :
Child : CHF 8.-
Student : CHF 10.-
Adult : CHF 14.-
Group (10 persons) : CHF 10.-

Office du tourisme de Champex-Lac (Details)
  Association Pro Forteresse 1920  Martigny 2   (Details)
  Fort d'artillerie 1938  Champex-Lac   (Details)