Throughout December, something starts to come alive in La Tzoumaz. It’s like a slowly building thrum of anticipation. Chalet shutters are thrown open one-by-one and the autumn dust gets shaken off the ski gear. Some amazing pre-Christmas deals are available as people slowly get into the swing of the coming season. Often with good early snowfall, the lifts open from the second week of December and the huge expanse of the 4-Valleys ski area is yours to explore, like your own private screening of this year’s smash-hit blockbuster, before anyone else gets to see it.
Top Tip: Ski-Touring up the side of the pistes is incredibly popular here due to the large number of people training for the Patrouille des Glaciers, an historic ski-mountaineering race from Zermatt to Verbier that is organised every two years by the Swiss Army. You can hire touring skis in the village, and make it up the Savoleyres in about an hour and a half, before the ski lifts even open for the season.
Don’t miss: Season opening party at the Tourist Office, where you can rub shoulders with the seasonal workers and business owners, and find out what’s new and improved here in the village, all over a tasty Valaisan buffet of local cheeses, meats and wines.
Christmas and New Year
Two weeks jam-packed with action and entertainment, when this small village positively buzzes with the pride of all the chalet owners as they sweep their families up to the mountains and remind them what a good Christmas break is all about.
Top Tip: Book your holiday early as after the owners have all had their pick , the few remaining rental opportunities will sell out, some up to 12 months in advance.
Don’t miss: New Year party in ViTho bar, with DJ and party all night long right next to the outdoor ice rink.
After the cork-popping crescendo of the New Year celebrations, January comes with a totally different flavour. Now is the time for keen skiers to come to the quiet slopes and enjoy the crisp snow conditions and enjoy the frequent clear blue skies in the resort. Prices are lower and lift queues are virtually non-existent. Verbier and the 4-Valleys ski area are virtually unrivalled in terms of size and variety of both on- and off-piste skiing, and in January you often find yourself still leaving fresh tracks late into the afternoon and wondering why no-one else is here. The first week in February is also a great time to scoop a good bargain just before the prices increase for the half-term holidays.
Top Tip: Ask about our low season deals on holiday packages that include lift-passes and a Swiss Ski School instructor to show you the highlights of the 4-Valleys that you may never find on your own, designed to hone your on-piste skills and expand your knowledge of the local off-piste favourites.
Don’t miss: Full-Moon sledging night with dinner and DJ/Disco at the top of the Savoleyres peak, then a fun-filled torchlit descent back into the village.
Most of February is designed for families with children with a variety of events and distractions put on for young and old alike. Carnaval is one of the biggest weeks of celebration for the local Swiss so the resort swings into action, and is almost as busy as New Year week.
Top Tip: If the snow is too deep for the swings in the village playground, wind them over the top so the chains are shorter and you can still enjoy them.
Don’t miss: The Valais Trophy sledging competition, where serious contenders compete alongside laughing beginners down the 4km run into La Tzoumaz.
March & Early April
As the days start getting longer and the temperatures warmer, make sure you pack the suncream.
Top Tip: Ski a few runs on the La Tzoumaz slopes, where the sun only caresses the slopes gently, before you head over to the Verbier side. You’ll find the snow quality is fantastic as they don’t receive the full melting power of the sun head-on, and it will allow you to concentrate on your last run home instead of wondering why you didn’t spend more time here.
Don’t miss: Take advantage of one of the organised evening activities: Night-time Showshoe or Ski-Tour & Fondue, or take part in the Swiss Ski School Torchlit Descent
A pleasing mix of children hunting for chocolate eggs around the resort and keen skiers racing to be the first down the fresh powder on the backside of the Mont-Fort.
Top Tip: Minimise your time off work by looking for one of our Long Weekend Specials
Don’t miss: Singing along in French at mass on Easter morning at the Chapelle de l’Ascension, created out of a disused chairlift station by a local architect.
Late April, May, June
High chance of long sunny days, perfect for forest hikes and cycling with evenings ideal for BBQ. Snow melting further and further up the mountains, eventually allowing the top road to Verbier to open for the summer. As the snow line retreats up the valley, many mountain businesses close up for a well-deserved break, and it’s time to get out the bicycles and hiking boots and see the forests, orchards and vineyards turn greener, almost as you are watching. There are some superb elevated routes and trails through the Rhone vineyards, which make an incredibly scenic drive, hike or cycle, with the massive expanse of the Rhone Valley laid out before you. Try not to stare when you see the locals working their vines on the near-vertical slopes, neatly separated by precipitous and narrow dirt tracks. For three days in May, over 200 winegrowers in the canton of Valais open their doors for the “Caves Ouverts” to show off the class and diversity of the local wines.
Top Tip: Head down to the Rhone Valley and cycle 10km (or more) along the river route, to the restaurant and playground at Les Iles, and take a refreshing dip in the lake.
Don’t miss: Annual “Fetes Du Forum” spectacle in the ancient 5000-seater Roman Amphitheatre of nearby Martigny, with gladiator school and combat displays.
July & August
The summers are scorching up here, high above the Rhone valley in one of Switzerland’s sunniest locations. The mountains turn into a haven for mountain-bikers, hikers and road cyclists with many long sunny days, clean air and abundant wildlife. The telecabin whisks you straight up into the Verbier-LaTzoumaz Bike Park where hundreds of kilometres of prepared downhill and cross country trails await you and your wheels. For those who prefer to explore at a gentler pace, the hiking trails of the Bisses take you alongside the ancient waterways, where you can follow the trickling streams and discover how the mountain populations used to channel this amazing natural resource for their own uses.
The top road up the Savoleyres to Verbier should be open all summer, and the telecabin lift to Verbier opens from 5th July 2014 until 23rd August 2014 for pedestrians, rock-climbers, paragliders and mountain bikes. There is so much to do in the mountains in summer that you might find it hard to choose: Wine tasting opportunities are plentiful in the region. There is tennis and riding, paragliding, gondola lifts, hiking and cross-country mountain bike routes, mountain hikes and tours, rock climbing up the Pierre Avoi, children’s hiking paths, mountain bikes for hire. There is an 18-hole golf course in Verbier (15 km) and high altitude fishing in the Lac des Vaux. Day trips include exploring the nearby Gorges of Trient and Durnand, an underground lake at St-Leonard and the mysterious Tete-Noir and the Nymph’s Grotto. There are plenty of nearby theme parks that include the world’s largest labyrinth.
August 1 is the Swiss National Holiday and shops and businesses close to allow everyone to celebrate over the long weekend. It is impressive to see how many different fireworks displays up and down the valley you will be able to see from your balcony.
Top Tip: In La Tzoumaz there are cheap accommodation options that mean you can enjoy the classical concerts of the world-renowned Verbier Festival without paying Verbier prices, and it is only a 15km drive or shuttle bus back home over the ridge after the last concert.
Don’t miss: The interactive “Trail of the Senses” leaving from La Tzoumaz’ “Maison de la Foret” that guides you and your family along a learning journey that engages all of your senses as you come closer, step-by-step, to being at one with the forest.
September, October & November
This period is characterised by beautiful autumn colours and the sunniest skies in Switzerland, with plenty of hiking and biking to enjoy. It is the perfect time of year to really explore the hundreds of kilometres of magical forest trail around the valley. The larch trees are a deciduous fir, so their leaves coat the mountains with an explosion of colour and the orange, reds and browns light up in the morning rays of sunshine. Down in the valley, the vineyards and orchards are also changing colour on their own timescale, and hikers and cyclists alike are treated to a panorama of nature displaying her splendour. There may be some early snowfall.
Top Tip: Bilberries, cranberries and blueberries grow in abundance all over the Savoleyres, and collecting them to take home for dinner adds an extra dimension to an already pleasurable hike.
Don’t miss: Head down to the restaurant Auberge La Tzoumaz for their Menu de la Chasse, where the tables are frequently booked out for the annual huntsman’s feast of delicious forest game.
November & Early December
With some snowfall likely further up the mountain, it is now possible to get out your snowshoes or maybe your touring skis and start to get back in the mood for winter. The mountainsides are deserted, and fellow hikers, snowshoers and touring skiers are glad to stop and exchange a few words as you cross paths on the way to a summit or a lake.
Top Tip: Look out for our Long Weekend Specials
Don’t miss: If the snow is not deep but only covering the trees, it is a magical time to explore the forests, streams and waterfalls on foot. Challenge your friends (or children) to shake the tree trunks and then stand still as all the soft, fluffy powder snow cascades down around and all over them. Challenge your other friends to capture the exhilarating moment on film.