The hike along the 💦 Bisse du Trient is perfect for families with young children or older relatives who are searching for a short and easy (and relatively flat) hike at slightly higher altitude than the valley floor!
The path starts from the 🇨🇭 Col de la Forclaz (Vallée du Trient, Switzerland) and meanders through the shade of a 🌲 pine and mélèzes (larch) forest, to reach the ☕️ Buvette du Glacier, with a super view of the ❄️ Glacier du Trient (see here).
What is the Bisse du Trient?
The theme of this hike is ❄️💦 ice and water, as the path follows the ice railway, whose path laid the way later for the bisse (irrigation channel). The hike is dotted with informative panels, which explain:
🚂 the history of the extraction of ice – the ice was cut from the Glacier du Trient in the 19th century and transported via a small railway to 🇨🇭 Martigny. From here, the ice was sent out to be used in local restaurants or it was sent on to destinations further afield, even as far as 🇫🇷 Paris! Between ❄️ 20 and 30,000 kilos of blocks of ice were transported per day!
💦 the history of the bisse (irrigation channel) – and then later, in 1895, a group of agriculturers decided to build the bisse along the same path as the ice railway had run. The water, carried from the Glacier du Trient to the Col de la Forclaz by the irrigation channel, was then used to water the surrounding fields. By 1970, however, the bisse was no longer required – watering was now being done by a pressurised sprinkling system, and the irrigation channel fell into disuse and disrepair. In 1986, various organisations undertook the task of repairing the bisse, and it now runs during the summer months.
Sentier didactique Charlotte la Marmotte
Along this path, animated by Charlotte la Marmotte, youngsters can play games that explain how the bisse operates, as well as reading the informative panels.
⇒ there is also a leaflet to print off here;
CosmoJazz at the Bisse du Trient
We actually discovered this fabulous family walk a couple of summers ago, thanks to the music festival 🎶 CosmoJazz . . . From start to finish, it was such a bucolic, fun and convivial experience to combine walking along 💦 the bisse with enjoying relaxing music and a picnic and 🥤 drinks from the Buvette du Glacier. We chatted to people from all over the world along the way and during the concert!
🎶 CosmoJazz kicks off each year with this family-friendly bisse hike – 🌲 “ randonnée musicale, à l’ombre des mélèzes “ / ⇒ see 🎵 Cosmojazz website for more details and timings.
🥤 La Buvette du Glacier is a lovely spot to eat and you can also picnic here, as long as you purchase refreshments.
There is also the ☕️ Restaurant du Col de la Forclaz, at the end (or start!) of the hike.
Handy tips for families
The path of the bisse was partially destroyed in 2018 by a landslide, and though an alternative path was cleared, access was not then possible with a buggy. The path has now been totally renovated, with a metal passerelle in place where the path had collapsed. This passerelle is open to all-terrain buggies (standard size, not double!), though the rest of the trail is quite bumpy terrain!
Lengths of this walk have a sheer drop down one side, so do be vigilant with young children: hold their hand when necessary and do not let them run ahead!
We saw a family ⛵️ sailing their homemade tiny sailing boats down the water in the bisse (this would work with any small toy boat). Last year our friends sailed paper boats down the bisse (with varying success!). I think ⛵️ a boat made of cork would work well?
Practical Information for hike
⛰ departure point & parking: Col de la Forclaz (Trient, Switzerland);
🗺 distance: 6,5km aller-retour;
⏰ duration: 1,5 hour aller-retour walk (allow extra time with small children to walk, read panels and play, and have lunch or a snack);
🗓 best time for walk: from May until October (and 💦 water running in bisse from June until September);
ℹ️ more information;