Martigny Tourist Attractions
The ancient little town of Martigny, the Roman Octodurum, situated on the great bend in the Rhône at the inflow of the River Drance, lies on the important through route from Lake Geneva to the Simplon pass and on the roads to the Great St Bernard pass and the Col de la Forclaz (Chamonix - Mont Blanc Tunnel).
In the newer part of Martigny, Martigny Ville, is the attractive Place Centrale, with the 19th C. Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). Close by is the former inn La Grande Maison, where famous personalities such as J. W. Von Goethe and A. Dumas stayed. Haus Supersaxo (16th C.), at Rue des Alpes 1, is the oldest house in the town.2km/1mile south is the old-world Martigny Bourg, with the Old Town Hall (17th C.) and the old residence (17th-19th C.) of the bishop's representatives.
Valais Film Center
The cantonal education department opened the Valais Film Center in 1988, which specializes in films and photographs connected with Valais.
13th C. Castle
On the vine-clad hillside above Martigny (30 minutes from Martigny Ville) can be seen the ruins of the 13th C. castle of La Bâtiaz (destroyed in 1518), which belonged to the Bishops of Sion; the tower was restored in 1898.
Fondation Pierre Gianadda
The cultural center of the Fondation Pierre Gianadda, was the idea of Léonard Gianadda (in memory of his brother) and Umberto Guglielmetti. There is a Gallo-Roman museum, exhibition galleries and a veteran car collection of over 40 vehicles from 1897 to 1939. On display are Benz, Alfa 1750c, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes SSK, Bugatti, Pic-Pac and the famous Delaunay-Belleville owned by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.The upper gallery is reserved for Gallo-Roman exhibits. The main finds of the excavations at Martigny are on display here (bronze statues from Octodurum, discovered in 1883, the Roman forum Claudii Vallensium) and enjoy international acclaim.The garden contains famous sculptures by famous artists such as A. Rodin ("La Méditation avec Bras", 1885), J. Miró ("Tête", 1979-1985), H. Moore ("Large Reclining Figure",1982) and C. Brancusi ("Grand Coq IV", 1949).Every September as part of the Montreux-Vevey Festival concerts take place with international ensembles and soloists.
International Folk Festival
This annual festival takes place in early to mid-August and brings together folk musicians and dancers from all over the world.The festival also includes a traditional trades fair and conferences.
Autumn Festival and Market
This annual two-day festival takes place in late November.
Spring Festival and Market
This traditional festival and market runs for two-days in late May.
From the end of Martigny Bourg a narrow winding road runs east through the forest on the slopes of Mont Chemin. From here it is 3km/2mi to Chemin-Dessous (774 m/2,539ft). 3.5km/2mi: Col des Planches (1,409 m/4,623ft), with fine views which is the starting point for the ascent of the Pierre à Voir (2,476 m/8,124ft: four hours), the highest peak between the Rhône and the Drance and a commanding view- point. From here there is also a beautiful footpath along the mountainside, level for most of the way, to Isérables (four hours).
From Col des Planches the road descends steeply, with many sharp bends, to Sembrancher (9km/6mi), in the Drance valley, which has a parish church of 1676 with a fine Late Gothic tower.
This annual day-long festival takes place in mid-September to celebrate the return of the cattle from the Alpine pastures.
From Sembrancher (which can also be reached from Martigny on the excellent main road, No. 21) it is 15km/9mi to the well-known winter sports resort of Verbier, situated on a natural terrace facing south, with views of the Grand Combin and the Mont Blanc group (1,420 m/4,659ft).Access to the skiing area is provided by numerous cableways. It is a popular area with skiers (over 85 lifts and 320km/199mi of pistes) as it is still possible to ski up to 3,300 m/10,830ft in summer. There are well laid out runs for long-distance skiing.
The chic, chalet-style village of Verbier is known for its great expert skiing and lively nightlife. Four different valleys offer 250 miles of runs including the famed Tortin, one of the steepest descents in Europe. Good intermediates will find the area challenging but it's probably not the best place for a rank beginner. Verbier is very popular with skiers from nearby Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux so lift lines can be a problem on weekends.
Val de Trient
This is a short valley west of Martigny, gorge-like in places, through which the Trient flows to join the Rhône. The steep and narrow mountain road runs northwest through La Bâtiaz, crosses the Trient on the Gueroz viaduct and turns southeast (7km/4mi to Salvan).
Salvan (927 m/3,041ft) is a health resort, from which a daringly engineered road climbs by way of Les Granges (1,044 m/3,425ft) to the Lac de Salanfe (8km/5mi), an artificial lake 2km/1mi long formed between 1947 and 1952 (1,914 m/6,280ft; hotels; skiing). From Les Granges there is a footpath to the impressive Gorges du Dailly.
1.5km/1mi southwest of Salvan is the summer and winter resort of Les Marécottes (1,100 m/3,604ft; "Reno Ranch" Alpine Zoo (opening times given), natural swimming pool), from which a chairlift 1,470 m/4,823ft long (lower station 1,140 m/ 3,740ft) goes up to Creusaz (1,780 m/5,840ft). The Val de Trient road continues beyond Salvan to Le Trétien (4km/2mi), from which it is possible to reach Finhaut, higher up the valley, but only by rail.
Col de la Forclaz
Just south of Martigny on the road to the Great St Bernard, turn right into a road which winds its way up, with a number of sharp bends, through the villages of La Fontaine and Le Fays to the Col de la Forclaz (1,527 m/5,010ft). It lies between the Croix de Prélayes and the Mont de l'Arpille (2,089 m/6,854ft; chairlift; extensive views).
From Col de la Forclaz a road runs down with attractive views of the Trient valley and the Trient glacier, to Trient (1,305 m/4,282ft), a summer and winter sports resort in a more open stretch of the valley.After passing through Le Châtelard (1,120 m/3,675ft) it comes to the French frontier, from which it continues over the Col des Montets to Chamonix.
Flore-Alpe Alpine Botanic Garden
A series of waterways running down the slope have been turned into streams and cascades. The effect is quite impressive, especially when combined with Egidio Anchisi's excellent upkeep of the gardens that share the slope.