|Sierre : the town|
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There’s not an awful lot to see or do in Sierre, although if you turn left (west) from the train station and then aim northwest up Avenue du Marché, you’ll come into the little-visited old quarters of town. The Rue de Villa, alongside a vineyard, marks the eponymous quarter of Villa, with, at the very top, the Château de Villa, one half of Sierre-Salgesch’s modest Musée de la Vigne et du Vin (March–Oct Tues–Sun 2–5pm; Nov–Feb Fri–Sun 2–5pm; Fr.5 for both museums; SMP). The Sierre half focuses on the wine itself, with interesting displays (in French and German) on grape varieties and the history of cultivation and some old presses. From here, a Sentier Viticole/Rebweg (Wine Path) runs through the quiet shuttered lanes of old quarters of Sierre, such as Muraz and Veyras, for a couple of hours over to Salgesch and out through the open vineyards perched on hillside slopes above the town and the valley floor to the other half of the wine museum, in the creaky old Zumofenhaus in the heart of the village. Displays are yet more scholarly here, on the technical aspects of viticulture, cultivation methods and history, but the enthusiastic guardian will be happy to give you a rundown in English on what’s what. Buses (every 2hr) can run you back to Sierre.
An interesting detour from the Wine Path is to the small Musée Charles-Clos Olsommer, signposted in Veyras (July–Sept Wed–Sun 3–7pm; Oct–June Sat & Sun 2–6pm; Fr.3). Olsommer, born in Neuchâtel in 1883, studied in Munich at the same time as Klee and Kandinsky, but unlike them became fixated with a Klimt-like style rooted in symbolism and mysticism. He lived in Veyras from 1912 until his death in 1966, painting moody scenes of women praying in the wilderness or surrounded by psychedelic patterns.
A fifteen-minute walk east of Sierre lie half-a-dozen low rounded hills, the result of alluvial deposits and an ancient landslide. The whole undulating area is one of the last remaining examples of undeveloped valley-floor ecology in the country. It’s carpeted by a vast, pristine pine forest, dubbed Forêt de Finges/Pfynwald, and is fringed by swamps and marshland on the Rhône banks. Protected and maintained but not developed, it’s perfect for long, shady hikes and peaceful picnics.
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