Mix of Route 72 (in lieu of Route 1) & Route 1:Section 4 (Sierre 533m- Martigny 471m)
Stats: about 63km, with probably about 1,000m height difference (very rough estimate)
March 2017 (1-day)
Summary: I biked the first 2/3 on route 72 and the last 1/3 on Route 1-04. Route 72 runs almost parallel to Route 1-04 but it is a more scenic and challenging trail. While Route 1-04 runs, for the most part, on the banks of the Rhone river, Route 72 meanders through the sun-kissed vineyards on the northern flanks of the Rhone valley. I want to point out, though, that regarding biking through vineyards, the Lavaux region is a far more beautiful and picturesque route, towering above Lac Leman instead of above the valley and its towns.
After leaving the train station in Sierre (~520m)/Siders (bilingual) (sierretourisme.ch, myswitzerland.com), I climbed 4km straight, breathless, to 720m elevation above Sierre to meet Route 72 (thank to the SwitzerlandMobility app for helping me locating the intersection). From there, the ride between Sierre and Sion was a continuous of steep uphills and downhills through the vineyards. Interestingly, this area of the canton Valais has the fame to be one of the sunniest and top wine-producing places in Switzerland.
An important tourist destination along the route, for which however I did not have time, is the underground lake of St-Léonard (lac-souterrain.com, myswitzerland.com). It is found along Route 72 between Sierre and Sion. It is the largest underground lake in Europe (about 300m long) and is explored by boat. It is closed in the cold months.
Sion /Sitten (in German) (500m) (siontourisme.ch, myswitzerland.com ) is a beautiful historic town and indeed one of Switzerland oldest cities!
Sion has also an interesting topography, with several steep hill that were used for observation or for fortresses. It has numerous historic sites to visits but it is mostly known for the two medieval castles of Tourbillon and Valère, each perched on its own hill, side-by-side.
The hill of Valère has a fortified village/castle and a Church (13th century) with apparently the world’s oldest organ (15th century), still played today.
The castle on the higher hill of Turbillon dates to the beginning of the 14th century, but it was destroyed by a fire at the end of the 18th century.
Also to see in the Old Town are the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-du-Glarier (15th century) and the Witches’ Tower. Sion has also a charming central pedestrian shopping area where I stopped for a small packed lunch.
After visiting Sion, I had to climb back to the vineyards. At this point, the wind of the valley decided to start blowing against my direction of travel, requiring additional effort. I stayed on Route 72 for another 15-20km (about half way between Sion and Martigny). In this area, I stopped for a coffee and some rest in the old and calm village of Chamonson (chamoson.ch), in front of a charming church of the 12th century.
Shortly after, at the junction, on the river banks, of Route 72 & Route 1-04 (and after about 45 km of biking), I decided I had enough of the wind and the climbing, and switched to Route 1 for the last 20km to Martigny.
The last part was similar to Section 05, riding along the Rhone river in the valley.
In Martigny (reviewed in another Section) I then took the train back home.
Here are links to Introduction & some sections on Route 1: