In Switzerland’s south, 21st century technology meets history in the city center of Sion.
This summer, I was among the privileged to spend a weekend in the mountainous region along the Rhône river valley. The Valais is a part of Switzerland where the sun always shines - from the Simplon pass all the way to the banks of Lake Geneva.
In Sion, the capital of the canton with its four medieval castles spread out across the city and on top of its hills, most people actually speak French. (The German speaking part of Valais is only a few kilometers to the east.)
Whether it is a castle or a mountain, the lovely streets of Sion always have an amazing background:
This historical place is the setting for a very cool new attraction: The new self-driving SmartShuttle. At the moment, this service is a pilot project by PostBus, but I am convinced that we will see self-driving buses launched in many more Swiss cities in the coming years. But in the meantime, you have to visit Sion if you want to experience a slice of the future...
Once there, the stops for driverless buses are easy to spot throughout the city center:
Here is one of these charming yellow buses trying to squeeze through the narrow alleys of Sion:
After a roundtrip onboard this new exciting mode of transportation, I recommend you try a typical meal from the Valais. Cheese fondue is always a popular choice, but the traditional Le Vieux Valais in the city center offers nice deli platters for some lighter fare as well.
Some unmissable events in and around Sion
There are handfuls of Alpine villages and resorts in the vicinity of Sion. Like it is the case for most remote places in Switzerland, PostBus is in charge of taking you there - with a human driver.
Take Anzère: Every mid-July, this town becomes a veritable paradise both for food lovers and sport addicts. The sun shines, the mountains look glorious, everyone is out enjoying themselves, and the following events are here to keep you happy.
Or on a Saturday each July, the Tour des Alpages features all sorts of running competitions across wonderful mountainous landscapes. This is an ideal for anyone who loves sports and the outdoors.
The Fête du Boeuf in Anzère
Feeling exhausted after all these activities? Go back to the center of Anzère for the Fête du Boeuf, a huge popular gathering celebrating the valley's cattle. It is also an excellent excuse to taste Valais' delicious wines.
One way to work off all the cheese and meat is to head to the Bisse de Sion for a nice stroll in the woods. Those making the effort will be rewarded with a peaceful and gorgeous panorama.
The region of Sion is a constant celebration of good food, good wine, good weather and amazing natural wonders. If you cannot make it on the day of those events, there is plenty to keep you entertained all year round. And in the winter, it becomes a proper wonderland for families, couples and friends. Check out our previous article about Anzère.
(SmartShuttle photographs copyright PostAuto)