Valais: Places to Explore

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Leukerbad

At 4,628 feet, Leukerbad, called Loèche-les-Bains in French, is Europe's highest spa village; travelers have been ascending to this Alpine retreat for centuries to take the curative waters and fill their lungs with cleansing mountain air. With 90 km (43 miles) of downhill and cross-country runs of varying difficulty, including some used for World Cup training and testing, Leukerbad is a pleasant alternative to the larger resorts, and its rejuvenating hot mineral pools are a soothing après-ski option. The Torrent cable car whisks skiers to slopes; a one-day ski pass including a visit to one of the public spas is 77 SF; from June to October the price is reduced to 46 SF.

Summer brings hikers who love the combination of trekking and soaking. High-altitude crossings via the Gemmi Pass go back to 500 BC. The ancient connection between the Valais and the Berner Oberland can be traversed easily in a day.

Calcium sulfite hot springs flow beneath the village, filling stone troughs with warm vapor, keeping thoroughfares free of snow, and circulating to private tubs and public pools daily. In the late 1960s an arthritis and rheumatism treatment facility was established, but it has since been overshadowed by upscale wellness hotels and sports clinics. The two largest bath facilities in Leukerbad are Burgerbad and Alpentherme. Both have pools, fountains, whirlpools, jets, and sprays of thermal waters. Towels and robes can be rented at the reception desk.

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