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A bisse is a low slope irrigation canal that brings water from torrents and rivers to agricultural land, mainly meadows and vineyards, to irrigate them.

Bordered by the Sionne to the west and the Lienne to the east, and overlooked by the Wildhorn glacier, Anzère is surrounded by water on all sides, including the Rhône plain below.

Our ancestors were able to exploit this advantage by building low-slope irrigation canals from the 14th century onwards to channel the water from the torrents and rivers to the promising agricultural land in the surrounding area (meadows, vineyards, etc.).

A walk along the water's edge, a wine tasting amongst the vineyards, a visit to the Musée Valaisan des Bisses: here are three complementary ways to discover these ingenious irrigation channels, inseparable from the history of Anzère!

Did you know? Traditional irrigation in Europe has been on UNESCO's list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since December 2023.

Impoundment of the Bisses

  • Grand Bisse d'Ayent: early June to late September
  • Bisse de Sion: mid-June to mid-September
  • Bisse de Clavau: end of April to end of September 
  • Bisse de Bitailla: all year round

Looking for some fresh air? Opt for an easy or more challenging hike along the Bisses

The best way to discover the bisses is to follow their course. The gentle murmur of the water flowing gently at your feet will provide a welcome breath of fresh air during the hot summer months.

Which walk should you choose?

The most family-friendly: the Bisse de Sion. A magnificent walk through alpine pastures and forests, starting from the superb lake at the Tseuzier dam.

The most spectacular: the Grand Bisse d'Ayent. A breathtaking view of the restored remains of the old channels that our ancestors built into the cliffs in 1442!

The most gourmet: the Bisse de Clavau. An easy walk through the vineyards, during which you can sample a fine local wine (see also below).

The most historic: the Bisse de Bitailla. The only bisse to have water all year round, it is mentioned in documents dating back to... 1307!

The most complete: the Tour des Deux Bisses. A clever itinerary that allows you to discover the Bisse d'Ayent and the Bisse de Sion in just 8 kilometres (instead of the 24 km combined for the two routes).

Good to know: apart from the Bisse de Sion, which is only open from mid-June to mid-September, the Bisses d'Ayent and de Clavau are also open in spring and early autumn. The Bisse de Bitailla is open all year round. Plan a trip outside the high season (July/August) to enjoy a peaceful stroll along the water!

A toast to the genius of the builders of yesteryear in the midst of vineyards irrigated by bisses

To do so, head for the Bisse de Clavau! Built around 1450, this canal takes its waters from the Lienne and irrigates the vineyards of Ayent, Grimisuat and Sion. Along the way, you'll pass La Guérite Brûlefer (owned by Cave Bonvin) and Le Cube (owned by Cave Varone), two places where epicurean walkers can stop to taste a local wine as close as possible to the bunches of grapes soaking up the sun in anticipation of the coming harvest season. You can also eat on site!

Don't forget to check the opening dates and times before your walk, especially in autumn (the grape can't wait ;) and its good care is the winegrowers' priority, to the delight of our taste buds!

Itinerary of the Bisse de Clavau Winegrowers directory

Quench your thirst for knowledge at the Musée Valaisan des Bisses

How did our ancestors manage the feat of building irrigation canals on a mountainside? Why did they embark on this titanic project? What geographical, technical and human challenges did they face? How might our aperitifs be affected by the disappearance of the glaciers? At the Musée Valaisan des Bisses, curiosity is a good thing!

On the programme for your visit: the must-see permanent exhibition, but also temporary exhibitions in tune with the times. Open: spring, summer, autumn.

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