Going east up the Rhone Valley from the Lake of Geneva are the towns of Martigny, Sion, Sierre, Visp and Brig. We chose Sion as a point to prepare for the hiking trail Tour of the Matterhorn, even though the tour departs from the valley south of Visp.
Sion has a fascinating history, one of the most important sites of prehistoric settlement in Europe. Information at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sion,_Switzerland
It was settled by 6,000 BC in Neolithic times, became an important Roman settlement, and was Christianized in the fourth century. Its strategic location has made it a site for conflict throughout Swiss history.
It is now the capital of the canton of Valais/Wallis, whose flag can be seen behind the Swiss flag. The flag of Valais is split down the middle, just like the actual canton: the western half French-speaking and the eastern half German-speaking.
It is an easy bus ride from Sion up Val d'Herens to Les Hauderes and Arolla. We went up to do reconnaissance on our coming hike Tour of the Matterhorn. Below is Mont Collon near Arolla, and a yellow Pasque flower colonizing the floodplain of the river below it.
Click on this link for a Map of the area around Sion