The charming village of Evolène sits at the foot of Dent Blanche, one of the highest peaks in the Alps at 4,358 meters. Evolène is located in Hérens, which is in the French-speaking Valais region of Switzerland.
The Tranquil Village of Evolène
Val d’Herens and Evolène, with their stunning Dent Blanche and glaciers, are heaven for mountain lovers. The village of Evolène is situated on a plateau above the main river. The village is one of the most picturesque in Switzerland, reminiscent of its neighbor Grimentz.
The village of Evolène has approximately 1,500 residents and isn’t as crowded as other more famous Swiss mountain resorts. So while the resort isn’t as busy as Zermatt on the other side of the mountain, it’s still a favorite for its tranquility.
Here you’ll find lots of traditional wooden houses as well as concrete houses similar to those in Engadine. You can see Dent Blanche’s towering white mountain peaks from the main road. Sadly, Evolène is not a car-free village, so you may encounter cars while wandering around.
Evolène and its neighboring hamlet Lannaz are both on the Swiss Heritage List. The Télé-Evolène ski lift starts from Lannaz (sometimes also called Lanna or Lana), a historic hamlet built in the shape of a ring.
There’s more to Evolène than being picturesque. The area is also popular for nature lovers in both winter and summer.
Nature around Evolène
Dent Blanche and Mont-Collon separate Evolène from Matter Valley (home of Zermatt) and the Aosta Valley of Italy.
Dent Blanche, in particular, is a prominent peak in Valais. Three villages lie on its foot at about the same distance: Evolène, Zinal, and Zermatt. Four steep faces rise over four glaciers.
Farmable land and meadows fill Evolène, an enclosed region. There is a small ski resort in this region in winter. The Evolène ski resort has 42 kilometers of slopes; the starting points are Lannaz (1,407 meters), Arolla (2,006 meters), and La Forclaz (1,725 meters).
Evolène Traditions and Language
The locals and farmers in Evolène own their land, so they take pride in it. Regardless of whether he or she decides to work in Sion or not, he or she will usually come back to Evolène at the end of the day to tend to his meadows and cattle. As a result of this lifestyle, as well as the locals’ loyalty to Evolène instead of migrating, the region has been able to preserve its culture, traditions, and language. In Evolène, they produce beautiful wood carvings, woven textiles, costumes, and wrought iron. A lot of artists, painters, and musicians also settle in this idyllic village.
Évolene is the last bastion of the French-Provençal language in Switzerland. It’s the only area where the locals speak it. Even children here talk patois, the Evolène dialect. It’s an endangered language, very nearly extinct, and closely related to Romansh in Graubünden.
The Romand language known in Evolène is unfortunately not an official language, as Swiss-French dominates the French-speaking parts of Switzerland. But this language is widely spoken in Italy’s Aosta Valley.
In this corner of Valais, there is a centuries-old tradition of dance and feasting in harmony with the rural lifestyle. It is called Carnaval d’Evolène (Evolene Carnival) and takes place in winter. Costumes worn by Carnival characters are usually handcrafted and passed down from generation to generation.
Whenever the characters pass by, try not to touch their bells and masks. You should also clear the path so they can pass.
How to get to Evolène, Switzerland
To get to Evolène, you will have to go through Sion. Then, by bus or car, you will pass by the Pyramids of Euseigne. The bus stops are called Evolène, Les Flantzes, Evolène, Village and Evolène, Route de Lannaz. Evolène isn’t reachable by train.
You can park right outside the village entrance if you’re going by car to Evolène.
Final Thoughts: Evolène, Switzerland
Evolène is just like Zermatt and Saas-Fee without the tourists. So it’s a good alternative to Zermatt when you’re looking for a quieter place. Everything’s still pretty well preserved. Wooden houses are all over, but there are also charming concrete buildings.
Evolène is among the most beautiful villages in Switzerland, and it is easy to see why. It is truly a stunning village.
- Zuffrey, Alain-R. Evolène – An Island of Dialect. Swiss review: the magazine for the Swiss abroad. 4/89. December 1989.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.