The beautiful Verbier St Bernard, our Best Destination for Sports Tourism, Europe, 2013, welcomes you this summer with sports and culture filled alpine holidays complemented by snow, lush paths, raclette and all the delights of the mountains. This tourist area in the heart of the Alps encompasses Verbier, Val de Bagnes, Pays du St Bernard and La Tzoumaz, with exceptional panoramas every way you turn.
While Verbier remains the Eldorado of skiing and freeriding with its Four Vallées area, the family resorts all around offer fantastic alternatives. Here, amid undisturbed nature, fans of snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing or sledging will find exactly what they want. In summer, enjoy 950km of hiking paths as well as 500km of mountain bike trails.
The Grand Raid Verbier-Grimentz, an international mountain bike marathon, takes place on August 17
A wealth of fascinating cultural attractions await you, ranging from contemporary art to heritage sites. Among the not-to-be-missed items is the Col du Grand St Bernard – with its hospice and dogs – which will plunge you into the legend of this welcoming, spiritual place.
Another attraction of the region is its gastronomic delights, complemented by flavours from other parts. To enjoy the buzz right through the season, don’t miss Verbier’s international events such as the Verbier Xtreme and the Verbier Festival. From mountain huts to five-star hotels, Verbier St Bernard offers a wide range of accommodation from which to enjoy this plethora of activities.
Summer is a fantastic time to visit Verbier St Bernard thanks to the endless events and activities spanning the season. From July 19 to August 4, Verbier Festival entertains the resort. Every year, the greatest classical music performers meet at the Verbier Festival for two weeks of pure enchantment. The event offers a wide range of shows, from the splendour of symphony masterpieces to the intimacy of recitals.
Although the festival is mainly devoted to classical music, it also opens the door to jazz and world music. It hosts various free concerts in bars and cafés, rehearsals and open workshops, concert presentations and conferences: music lovers and curious onlookers of all persuasions will be in seventh heaven. The 2013 event promises to be exceptional – the Verbier Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
On this occasion, the organisers are proud to announce the creation of the Verbier Festival Music Camp. This three-week educational programme, driven by conductor Daniel Harding, sources around 60 musicians between the ages of 15 and 17.
There are a legion of other events complementing the Festival: for young musical talents, The Verbier Festival Academy is offering masterclasses directed by stars from the international arena, and is now open to the public.
Participants get to exhibit their talent daily during a free concert. Make sure you see both orchestras leading the festival – the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra – who are offering several exceptional performances. Alternatively, however, the Fest’Off! Jazz concerts and jamming sessions get the beat going in the resort. In the streets or in the pastures, open your eyes and prick up your ears – the music is everywhere.
There are countless other offerings aside from classical concerts. Until July 6, the 3-D Foundation hosts several contemporary artists in Verbier. It will be open every day so guests can watch how the artists work.
For something more physically demanding, get involved with the Trail Verbier St Bernard on July 6 and 7. This long-distance running race passes through five valleys and seven communes. Choose from: La Boucle, 110km, Verbier, 7,000m gradient; La Traversée, 61km, 4,000m gradient; Liddes Verbier, 29km, 2,500m gradient. When August dawns, families visiting the resort have the Fête des Familles to look forward to, which is on the 15th of the month. In the pastures at La Chaux, there will be free concerts and entertainment for the little and the not so little. Then, from the 16th to the 25th the best Swiss and international riders descend on Verbier for the Jumping International de Verbier horse-riding competition, which many enjoy.
For fans of biking, the Grand Raid Verbier-Grimentz, an international mountain bike marathon, takes place on August 17, while the North Face Ultra Trail Du Mont-Blanc run from August 26 – September 1 in La Fouly, Champex-Lac, Orsières. This long-distance run is new in 2013 and covers a distance of 166km, with a 9,500m gradient. September brings the Verbier-Romandie classic tour, and the three-day long Verbier Bike Fest, from the 6th to 8th, which features concerts and spectacular motorbike demonstrations.
On September 21 is Désalpes in La Fouly, the traditional mountain festival celebrating the descent of cows to the plain, after four months grazing Alpine pastures. Bells hang from their necks and bright flower arrangements adorn their heads and horns. Traditional music is played in the streets and there will be a chance to sample and purchase local produce. Expect further herd processions from the Bagnes Capitale de la Raclette in Le Châble on September 21-22. This big village fair features AOC Raclette tasting of cheese from the surrounding pastures.
Summer in Verbier St Bernard is also the perfect time for walks with the famous St Bernard dogs, along with rides on the touristic Train des Combins, bread-making in medieval ovens, gastronomic harvesting and walks, as well as visits to and lectures on the area’s botanical gardens. bd
Top ten summer activities
1 Col du Grand St Bernard
Visit the hospice and its museum, which covers the history of this shelter and stop-off point since its foundation. Use your visit to take a walk with the famous St Bernard dogs.
From May to November, discover the golf in Verbier. Two beautiful courses at 1,500m, with panoramic vistas await you.
Visit the magnificent ‘Flore-Alpe’ alpine garden for a combination of summer botany and romanticism. Whatever the weather, don’t miss a pleasant walk around the lake.
More than 950km of hiking trails lead you through the beauty of the Alps. Try the Tour du Mont-Blanc, the Via Francigena (pilgrim way from Rome to Canterbury) or a didactic trail.
5 Mountain biking
Enjoy 28 groomed cross-country trails, try an electric mountain bike or take on the five downhill runs at the bike park. Unmissable trails include the Mont Blanc route and the Tour du Mont Fort.
6 Tandem paragliding
Get a good dose of fresh air on a paragliding excursion. Summer or winter, you’ll have an incredible time.
7 Mauvoisin Dam
Take a walk along the educational trail and discover, at 250m, the highest arched dam in Europe, giving spectacular views over Mauvoisin Lake and itssteep waterfalls.
8 Bagnes Cheese
Learn how cheese is made in Bagnes, all the way from pasture to dairy, and round the day off with a taste of traditional
An incredible vista awaits you at the 3,300m summit of Mont Fort, encompassing the Mont Blanc, Matterhorn and Grand Combins ranges. Ascend by cablecar for sunrise and breakfast excursions in summer.
Give back-country skiing a shot, accompanied by a mountain guide. Take on the Vallon d’Arby or the Backside Mont-Fort for a powder-filled day. For an unforgettable experience try heli-skiing, with a helicopter flight and downhills in perfect snow.