A favorite motto of many of my blogging colleagues is that even “a journey can be a destination”. In the case of our recent trip to the canton of Wallis (French Valais), this was doubly true. For the first time, we tried “Autoverlad” – transport by car on a freight train through a mountain tunnel. And it was really an experience!
The destination of our trip was the town of Brig and the nearby largest Swiss thermal swimming pool Brigerbad.
Autoverlad Kandersteg – Goppenstein
The transport of passenger cars (vans, buses, but also cyclists) begin in Kandersteg in Bernese Oberland (less than an hour from Bern). Just follow the signs and drive directly to the ticket office (such a Portakabin with a latch similar to toll gates on Italian or French highways).
Prices vary depending not only on the day you want to go through the tunnel (Mon-Fri vs Fri-Sun) and the type of vehicle but also on whether you buy the ticket on-site or online.
Vehicle up to 3.5t with a maximum of 9 seats:
Monday – Thursday: online 25CHF – on-site 27CHF
Friday – Sunday (incl. holidays): online 28CHF – on-site 29,5CHF
In about twenty minutes the car train spits you on the other side of the mountain. From Goppenstein a winding road leads you down into the Rhône Valley, and in about half an hour you are in Brig. We left the car right in the town center, in the Parkhaus Altstadt.
The town of Brig, situated almost on the border with Italy, has been an important crossroads of trade routes since Roman times.
Perhaps the most famous landmark of the town is Stockalperschloss, a Baroque palace named after the local prominent businessman Konrad Stockalper, who dominated the silk trade routes through the Simpon Pass. Characteristic of this castle are three towers ending with golden domes and an inner courtyard with three rows of arcades.
Admission to the courtyard, adjacent gardens and a small museum at the ticket office is free of charge.
Since we came here just after the start of the castle tour and the next tour was quite far away (tours run from May to October except Mondays always at 9:30, 10:30, 13:30, 14:30 and 15:30), so we at least took a look at the exhibition – about the history of the pass, the construction of the tunnel, and a few historical artifacts from the castle. For example, we learned that the road through the Simplon Pass was built by Napoleon himself as an important military link, and the later Simplon Tunnel was once the longest railway tunnel in the world.
A walk through the town
Then we set off on the walking tour of the town center. From the castle, we walked across the pedestrian zone of Alte Simplonstrasse to Dorfplatz with cafes and restaurants.
From there we continued along the Bahnhofstrasse towards the train station (this is even shown on Swiss postage stamps). A local tourist office is located opposite the train station.
After a walking tour in Brig, we were ready for a relaxing afternoon soaking in the thermal springs Brigerbad, which is about a 10-minute drive from Brig.
Opening hours and admission fees
The thermal spa is open all year round from 9 am to 9 pm. Current information on opening hours and prices can be found on the website.
As part of the family entrance fee, an adult pays 15 francs for 3 hours without wellness (otherwise 19 francs), children 11 francs.
We bought the admission for 3 hours, without visiting the saunas. I think it was a good decision in the beautiful weather. Of course, if we had more time, we would certainly be able to spend the whole day here, but we wanted to get home early.
Even in those three hours, we enjoyed our afternoon here pretty much. The boys were excited about the long slide, which with its length of 182 meters is the longest alpine thermal water slide in Europe. In the Olympic 50m pool, the 17-meter long obstacle course Aquatrack was great fun for our boys.
Of course, I enjoyed the thermal pool with water temperature between 34 and 37°C and underwater massage jets. But I also found the courage to enter the “wild river” and be carried by the rapids. And, of course, you also know that nobody got me into the “cooling” pool, where the water is 18 – 20 °C. They say “Abkühlung pur!” Jeez! N-E-V-E-R 😀
- Thermalbad Brigerbad offers a great family day out (at reasonable costs in Swiss terms).
- The location of the swimming pool and the views are absolutely unbeatable.
- For the little ones, there is a separate pool with sunshade.
- The restaurant & kiosk offers good meals and snacks.
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