French-speaking Sion is bewitching. Deceptively modern and industrial from afar, this small town that rises abruptly out of the built-up floor of the Rhône valley is deliciously gourmet, with excellent dining options and a surrounding ring of vine-terraced hills criss-crossed with ancient irrigation channels known as bisses. The Rhône River bisects Sion and a twinset of 13th-century hilltop châteaux play guard atop a pair of craggy rock hills above the old town.
Sion moves to a relaxed beat, with winemaking (and tasting) playing an essential role in the town’s mantra and pavement cafes lining the helter-skelter of quaint lanes that thread sharply downhill from its castles to its medieval Old Town. Market day (Friday) and summertime's high-drama son et lumière show – visible from anywhere in town – are Sion musts.