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Saillon: A Beautiful Medieval Village in Valais, Switzerland

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Darla Uhl

Saillon is a beautiful medieval village in Canton Valais, Switzerland’s Martigny district. Visiting Saillon is an enjoyable experience thanks to the picturesque medieval village’s well-preserved past.

Overview: Saillon, Switzerland

The medieval village of Saillon sits on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards with great views of the surrounding mountains. The land is mostly farmland with orchards, vine crops, trees, and alpine pastures taking up a third of it. There’s no denying that grapes, almonds, and figs grow well here, thanks to the climate. Terraced slopes with vines give this place a distinctly southern feel.

Image of Saillon by

The entire city of Saillon is included in the Swiss Heritage List.

Buildings, housing, and transportation infrastructure take up less than a tenth of the land in Saillon. All the rest of the land turns out to be unproductive or too rocky for the 2,600 or so people who live there.

Saillon: A Quick History

Saillon was first mentioned back in 1052 as Castellum Psallionis. Over two centuries, Saillon was ruled by the Savoys.

In the 15th century, there were Burgundian Wars between the Burgundian State and the Old Swiss Confederacy. As a result, Upper Valais under the Germans from Hasli and Lower Valais under the Savoys often fought amongst themselves. At this time, Saillon was a Savoyard commercial and military center in Valais. 

The fortifications in Saillon were built by Peter II of Savoy. 

Saillon, though small, is worth visiting. Here are some of the things to do in Saillon:

Saillon: Things to Do

Saillon Medieval Village

The small medieval village is nice to explore. You’ll find here the following interesting buildings, restaurants, and wine cellars: Musée de la Fausse Monnaie, Centre Culturel Stella Helvetica, Jardin Medieval, Cave Raymont, Caveau de Saillon, and Maison de Commune.

Saillon Medieval Garden

Image of the Medieval Garden by

There is a small medieval garden (Jardin Medieval) in Saillon that’s free to visit. Here you will find Valais’ most iconic plants between the 10th and 15th centuries. One of the plants is the almond blossom, which is the emblematic tree of Saillon. 

The plants here are well-maintained. From the garden, you can see the Bayart Tower and the Rhône Valley.

Bayart Tower

Image of the Tower and Surrounding Vineyards in Saillon by

Saillon’s landmark is the Bayart Tower (Tour Bayart), a 19-meter-high fortress built by the count of Savoy overlooking the Rhône Valley. You might also hear it called the Saillon Castle or Bayard Tower. 

Despite multiple revolts and attacks, especially during the Burgundian Wars, the Bayart Tower still towers over the village. Together with Saxon Castle, another ruined castle, it was built by the Savoys. These towers were built to protect and oversee Savoy lands from the Bishop of Sion, the Savoys’ sworn enemy. 

The Bayart Tower and its fortifications are Swiss heritage sites. You can walk around the pretty medieval village and check out the Bayart Tower. Enjoy the view from this raised vantage point. 

Bains de Saillon

There’s more to Saillon than the medieval village. Also nearby are thermal baths called Bains de Saillon. Located on the right bank of the Rhône River in the heart of the Valais, the Bains de Saillon complex provides a unique thermal experience. The thermal springs come from the Salentse.

Enjoy the heated swimming pool, semi-Olympic pool, thermal river, spa, sauna village, fitness rooms, and hammam at the thermal park. A giant toboggan, water park, and paddling pool will also entertain guests in the summer.

The hotel, Des Bains de Saillon, offers 48 rooms with a perfect view of the Alps, themed restaurants, studios, and apartments to rent. They also provide free parking for their guests.

Museum of Counterfeit Coins

Saillon is also famous for its notorious bandit Farinet. In fact, The Museum of Counterfeit Coins (Musée de la Fausse Monnaie) is dedicated to Farinet and his counterfeiting methods. It presents a comprehensive history of fake and real Swiss money.

The fake coins and banknotes at the museum look eerily like real money. Additionally, they present coins from Valais dating back thousands of years.

Also, you’ll get to meet the man Farinet, an Italian counterfeiter who spent time in Valais. He made 20-cent coins, which he gave away to people to help them.

Hikes around Saillon

Image of the Rhône Valley by

You can also find some cool hikes and walking trails nearby. Here are some hiking spots around the region:

  • Gorges de la Salentse – The Salentse (also written as Salentze) is a Swiss river and tributary of the Rhône river. It flows in Saillon and Leytron. The river carved out these gorges, which you can visit from Saillon.
  • Saillon – Montagnon – Produit – A 17.7-kilometer circular hike that can also be done by mountain bike.
  • Mayens de Chamoson – A spring pasture camp in the municipality of Chamoson around 1,200 meters above sea level.
  • Beudon – Overlooking the Rhône plain, this area located 740 meters above sea level has rich plant and animal species. It is known for its butterfly population. You can hike to Beudon in 1 hour and 45 minutes from Saillon.
  • Ovronnaz – A village in Valais on the south side of the Bernese Alps, Ovronnaz is a small ski and spa resort. You can hike to Ovronnaz in 2 hours and 40 minutes from Saillon.
  • Fully – The capital of Petite Arvine wine as well as chestnuts, Fully has a wonderful climate, terraced vineyards on its hillside, seven villages, and eight hamlets. You can hike to Vers-l’Eglise in 1 hour and 45 minutes from Saillon.

How to Get to Saillon

Parking space can be found at Place de Remparts (via Rue des Remparts). If you are coming by bus, you can get off at Saillon, Collombeyres near the village. For those who wish to visit the thermal baths, you can head to Saillon, Les Bains.

Parking LocationPlace de Remparts
Bus Stop near VillageSaillon, Collombeyres
Bus Stop near BathsSaillon, Les Bains

Final Thoughts: Visiting Saillon, Switzerland

Image of Saillon by

Saillon is a small but beautiful place worth visiting.

Saillon might not be as popular as other Swiss destinations, but don’t let that stop you from going. The area has a great climate, as evidenced by its ability to produce wines and fruits. It’s also a great place for spas, Turkish baths, and wellness.

Saillon is a fun day trip from Geneva or Lausanne, or a quick stopover if you’re touring Valais.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of 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.

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