Villages Along the Haute Route (Hiking in France and Switzerland)

I’m writing a little essay about my experiences on the Haute Route. So many of my friends have asked me about it so I’m finally getting around to taking the time to put down some of the wonderful memories I have.

The Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt is an exciting experience and since we pass from the French-speaking areas of Switzerland to the German-speaking, it is also a cultural experience.

Certainly the most French village that I found was Chamonix, which is in France but even in Switzerland, Verbier is also very French.

One that I found particularly interesting was near the end of the trip: as we approached Zermatt. It’s the fairytale village of Grächen. This is in the German-speaking region.

1,620 m. It extends a particularly warm welcome to visitors, and offers a lively program that contrasts with the neighboring resort of Zermatt.

Grächen is not only an attractive destination because of its natural beauty, but also due to its numerous leisure facilities and the extremely interesting infrastructure, ranging from a children’s restaurant via the Native Indian fort to the entertainment program. In Grächen, the children are magically turned into princes and princesses.

Families can set up camp individually in the Native Indian village on Hannigalp. The authentically furnished tepee tents, with a stake and fireplace, reflect the charm of the prairie, and allow children to immerse themselves in the adventures of the Wild West. Someday I went I’m going to come back here and bring my kids with me.

On the exclusive Ravensburger Spieleweg – a games trail – families can combine an enjoyable walk with exciting games. Playing with the ‘crazy labyrinth’ or the ‘Matterhorn climber’ turns a family hike into an afternoon of games. Each of the 16 huts and games stations becomes a stage on the way to the final destination.

There is also guaranteed fun at the adventure playground ‘Robis playground in the forest. In the haunted house, on the giant slide, and on the fairytale-themed walk, all the dreams of adventure come true.

Grächen has a reputation as an outstanding area for walking. Passionate hikers appreciate the 250 km network of walking trails which covers the forest, the mountain lake, burbling irrigation channels, and the entrance to the snout of the glacier. The Hannigalp (2,100 m) is the heart of the hiking region: it links the mountain path to Saas-Fee with the Europaweg (Europe Trail) between Zermatt and Grächen – the most famous and beautiful mountain hiking trails in the Alps.

Winter

Grächen is an eldorado for families in winter. They can have fun and games in Switzerland’s largest and most exciting familiy park, the “SiSu Familienpark”. The three-story family park, covering an area of more than 50,000m2, offers everything that makes the hearts of families beat faster. With four magic carpets, a ski carousel, a hang-glider, a snowtubing run, visiting the ‘cinema in the igloo’ or the ‘Mäc SiSu’ family restaurant, will make the ski learners feel totally contented and happy. The day nursery is right in the skiing area, so parents can leave their children in the care of professional staff without any worries. 38 km of winter walking paths, a toboggan run and 23 km of snowshoe trails also tempt non-skiers to venture out into the snow-covered winter landscape.

With 42 km of pistes, the skiing region is easy to navigate, snow-assured up to 2,858 m altitude, and impresses with its majestic scenery. The highest Swiss mountains are so close one could almost touch them. Mogul pistes and a fun park complete the range of facilities on offer.

Family

The holiday resort has been awarded the ‘Families welcome’ quality mark, providing all the facilities parents could wish for: Children’s equipment for hire and childcare, as well as a kids hotel, playgrounds and a swimming pool are just some of the facilities on offer.

Highlights

  • Ravensburger Games Trail – A playful walk along the Ravensburg Games Trail: 16 games huts and stations, ranging from ‘memory’ to ‘snakes and ladders’
  • The family parks in and around Grächen are a highlight for children and adults alike. This region is ideal for hiking tours with the whole family, and numerous pleasant spots invite to take a relaxing break.
  • As of the winter season 2011/12, Grächen’s guests are taken to the skiing and hiking region of Hannigalp in the fairytale cable car where they experience the largest and most beautiful SiSu family park of Switzerland.
  • Swisscom Skimovie – the best souvenir of your skiing holiday: film your personal ski and snowboard performance on the Swisscom Skimovie slope, download the skimovie free of charge on the same evening and share it with your friends!
  • The Hannigalp now features a free wireless zone – take a break on the mountaintop and surf the Internet free of charge at your leisure.
  • Fondue in the cable car at night – round off a winter day enjoying a cozy ride and a cheese fondue dinner accompanied by a glass of fine white wine.

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