This was a total surprise to me. A great surprise. I had planned to cycle the fabulous but tough Col du Sanetsch, but I just wasn’t feeling strong. I knew that a few (vineyard filled) kilometres into the route was the turn-off to Derborence. I changed plans and decided to explore.

Valais vineyards

Valais vineyards

After the last village, Aven, there is a long steep stretch, then the road turns right. And becomes great! It quickly becomes an astonishing cliff road with lots and lots of “stylish” tunnels. Truly amazing. There are two tunnel stretches, one is very long. But there are frequent openings with fun cliff views so it is never too dark. I believe I saw a bunch of bats, but a friend thinks they were probably swallows. Anyway, I didn’t bite them, and they didn’t bite me. 🙂

I’ll put a bunch of photos below mainly to stress how fun and long this part of the ride is.

IMG_8526 - Version 2

Great cliff road to Derborence

After the tunnels the road opens out into a typically great Swiss high Alpine valley (It’s the Valais side of Les Diablerets). Stunning place.

Secret Swiss valley

Secret Swiss valley

Note, on the map below I followed two roads higher. First, I passed a smaller lake and the digue (dam) de Godey. There are a couple of steep kilometres leading to the high point of the route (1575 metres or so) and some great views. Descending, I walked a couple hundred of metres on an unpaved path to get onto the dam and see Lac du Godey better.

High point of ride

High point of ride

Finally, I took another stretch of road up to Lac Derborence. Note, the paved road ends perhaps 500 metres from the lake, at the parking lot, but it’s worth gingerly crossing this for the views.

Lac Derborence was created by huge avalanches in 1714 and 1749. Wow! The road ends here, but it is a popular start for hikers.

Lac Derborence - 1449 metres

Lac Derborence – 1449 metres

I loved this ride. Sometimes the best routes are unexpected. The unique cliff kilometres alone are worth the visit. And the lakes and views higher up are typically Swiss fabulous. Excellent.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Markus Albert on

    Hi Will,

    I’m glad you finally discovered that fantastic road up to Derborance and Lac de Godey. It is one of the nicest Valais rides I know. I climbed it last year in autumn and the scenery was amazing. Looking at your Lac de Cleuson ride I got appetite for visiting it….probably next Tuesday.
    Thanks for your great blog which keeps inspiring me although I don’t have enough time to ride all.
    cheers, Markus

  2. Markus Kellerhals on

    Thanks for the inspiration. I am not going to run out of rides around Sion very soon following some of your suggestions,

    I did this ride yesterday in great fall colors. The tunnels are wonderful. I had to ride some of them twice they were so much fun.

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