Destination: Val d’Hérémence, Valais (Wallis), Switzerland
(Foreword: If you want to know what happened before, read the first part of our Wallis Adventure here –>)
It was a foggy morning in our Air B&B house in Saviése, Wallis (Valais). We had more or less slept in our cozy beds (you know how it is, the first night in a new place is always a hassle with kids!) and were fresh, awake, and ready for the day’s adventures. We had planned to visit the Dam of Grand Dixense, and after a self-made breakfast that would have been comparable to any hotel breakfast, we packed the car and drove down from our Alpine mountain. A winding road took us down to the valley between the mountain ranges. We drove through the city of Sion and then up again. Another winding road took us up to another Alpine mountain, and we climbed higher slowly, curve after another, towards the destination.
It was maybe not the best day to visit the dam, as we were soon about to discover. Sceneries around us were beautiful, but you couldn’t see too far as the thick fog was surrounding us. We hoped we could reach above the fog line, but that proved to be nothing but wishful thinking. We did not let such small details depress us but parked the car and went searching the gondola station instead. Our Little Prince Charming was jumping up and down with excitement, as he still loves riding with the gondola. But before we go up, I want to tell you a few details about this dam.
According to its website, Grand Dixense is the world’s highest gravity dam. It is located at the head of the Val d’Hérémence, at 2400 meters above sea level, and is 285 m (935 ft) high. The Grande Dixence hydroelectric power complex generates some 2 billion kWh of power per year and accounts for 20% of Switzerland’s energy storage capacity. It provides enough electricity to power the equivalent of 500,000 homes. Looking at the dam towering above me made me feel rather dizzy. I imagined the masses of water stored behind it and started feeling somewhat uncomfortable standing there. Maybe I have read one book too many, but I could seriously feel the pressure of the water masses on my own shoulders and couldn’t help but check for any cracks in the concrete wall…
Little man was growing rather anxious, so we went for his long-awaited gondola ride and landed on top of the dam. For me, walking on top of this enormous concrete thing did not feel any better than standing under it. And unfortunately, the fog didn’t make it any better. It was almost too much for a Finnish flatland girl to handle, but I kept my cool, and we went for a walk. I could hear the water. I could almost taste the water. But I couldn’t really see it. How annoying! However, we walked the dam from one end to the other and back and learned a lot from the information boards placed along the way. My dear husband was carried away with his camera, taking tons of photos that really had an apocalyptic feel to them. Again, our smallest traveler was growing restless, waiting for the next gondola ride. Finally, much to my relief, we headed down.
Our car was still standing where we had left it. There were no cracks in the dam and no masses of water flowing around. Silly me, but I was relieved. Down the same narrow winding road we went again. Until I spotted a signpost that said something about pyramids. Wait! What? Pyramids? In Switzerland?? My dear husband read my thoughts as fluently as ever, stepped on the brakes, and turned the car around faster than a lightning bolt. And so we were on our way to see the Pyramids of Euseigne, something we didn’t even know existed. They turned out to be quite something else than what you expect when hearing a word pyramid, but interesting and atypical nevertheless.
I learned that the Earth Pyramids of Euseigne are protected monuments and rare sights in Switzerland. However, the fascinating earth formations are difficult to pass by without noticing as the road leads directly through them. They are 10 to 15 meters high, and most of them have a funny rock, like a hat, on top of them. According to the website, they were created in the end phase of the last Ice Age, about 80,000 to 10,000 years ago.
We parked the car close by and went to the pyramids with our cameras. Our Sweet Little Princess is fascinated by rocks and geology and took probably a zillion pictures with her small pink camera. Prince Charming did not quite seem to understand what the rest of us were so intensely looking at and concentrated instead on the cars passing by and the small water fountain that was located right next to the information board. Now the fog was suddenly gone, and the day was turning steaming hot. Also, we were starving and decided to continue our journey. We said our goodbyes to the so-called pyramids and went towards our Air B&B house at the end of another winding road.
We had discovered a lake located in the valley on the edge of the city of Sion. Now we considered stopping there. A swim after such a sweaty exiting pyramid experience seemed in order.
Location 1: The Grand Prixense Dam
With a car: Navigation address: Rue des Creusets 41, 1951 Sion
Public Transportation: Bus available from Sion, for more information contact: www.theytaz-excursions.ch.
Cost: Cable Car, adults 10 CHF per person, children aged 6-15, 5 CHF. For groups or special condition check their website. Information about quided tours available at their website .
Open: Open from May to October.
Services: Information center, WC, exhibitions
More Information available at their website
Location 2: The Earth Pyramids of Euseigne
With a car: Navigation address: Par Evolène-Région, Place du Clos-Lombard 6, 1983 Evolène
Cost: no costs
Open: open around the year
More information available here
Things to see and do around Savièse, Valais (Wallis), Switzerland:
- Underground Lake St Léonard (Lac Souterrain) (more information –>)
- Park Domaine des Iles (with lake) (more information coming soon)
- Ancient Water Channels (Bisse) (more information –>)
- Dam of Grand Dixence (more information –>)
- Western City, Martigny (more information –>)
- Pyramides of Euseigne (more information –>)
Bookaholic’s Distantly Related Reading Tip: GRIUNS A folk tale, a genensis of a Swiss Alpine Village, by Migel Patten (read my review about the book here)