The Rhone valley loop




Start/Finish:  BEX


Route:  LooP




The sunny side of Switzerland

This ride is part of our "Winter riding in the Alps" guide. Check it out here.
The canton of Valais enjoys a mild climate compared to the rest of Switzerland. In fact, locals claim that there are more than 400 days of sunshine per year in their home region.
Although this might be wildly exaggerated, we do take advantage of the good weather in the Rhone valley to do some long(ish) rides in winter. The loop here starts in Bex, just down the mountain from where we live. It's essentially an out-and-back towards Sion but we manage to take different routes in both directions, thanks to the dense road network in the valley. We also mostly stay away from the traffic, which is nice these days.
In winter, the first part between Saint-Maurice and Martigny remains in the shade for a long time, which is why we recommend starting in the late morning. This way, you arrive in Martigny around noon to fully enjoy the sun on the most beautiful part of the loop: 20 km in the famous vineyards of the Valais, a canton that produces excellent wines. They go very well with cheese fondue and raclette, which are an essential part of our winter diet.


Sun, quiet roads and vineyards: welcome to Valais

Following the SuisseMobile route 72, we pass through the medieval villages of Saillon and Fully, before arriving at the main (and modest) difficulty of the day: the Chamoson hill, which I remember climbing many times in a local race in the 80s and 90s... time flies.
After a quick descent, we reach the banks of the Rhone and SuisseMobile route number 1, aptly named "Route du Rhône". Over 20 km, it takes us back to Martigny on a flat road along the river, a real cyclist's paradise. In winter, however, check the conditions: it is rarely cleared after snowfalls and ice patches can form.
The last few kilometres back to Bex will be either easy or difficult (or slow). It depends on the wind, a constant in the Valais - like the sun, but less praised by the tourism board. If it's a north wind, the cold air will slap your face. If it's the foehn wind blowing down the valley, you'll be warmer and you won't feel the pedals. But as this is a round trip, you will have equal parts of headwind and tailwind! Vive le Valais.


When we shot this loop, the February sun was shining and the wind was moderate and I chose to wear the Velocio Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey . I also took the Signature Softshell Vest, which I opened or closed depending on the wind and the slope.

This combination worked very well for me. It must have been about 8°C. When it's colder, I go for the Alpha Merino Air Jacket (featured here).


The very trendy flapping vest look

Lillie also chose the Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey but opted for the Ultralight Rain Jacket as an extra layer. This piece is not only effective in the rain, it is also a perfect protective layer against wind and cold. And because it's so thin and light, it doesn't take up much room in the jersey pocket and we take it with us very often.


Battling the infamous Rhone valley wind with the Ultralight Rain Jacket

The other items we wore included: Zero Cycling Cap, Thermal Bib Tight, Merino Mesh Long Sleeve Baselayer, Winter Collar, Winter Wool Socks and Zero+ Booties.
You can find more information on the Velocio products at . And feel free to email me with any question you might have. I have a little gift in the form of a sweet discount code for those who contact me.

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