In the Saas Valley, known as “the pearl of the Alps,” tourism dates to the 1830s, when local priest Father Johann Josef Imseng – the first skier in Switzerland – began guiding visitors into the surrounding panoramic terrain. Now, as then, travelers to Saas-Fee (and its sister villages Saas-Grund, Saas-Almagell and Saas-Balen) journey along steep mountainsides and deep gorges into the heart of the Pennine Alps, where authentic Swiss chalet villages are encircled by Europe’s giant peaks. Yodelling, blowing the alpine horn and celebrating the coronation of the queen of the cow herd are still part of life in the Saas Valley – alongside state-of-the-art glacier skiing and top-ranked Gault-Millaut cuisine. Mountain tradition meets modern tourism. Parents from near and far bring their children to walk the same trails they hiked with their parents when they were young. Après-ski revelry spills onto the car-free streets. Wildflower enthusiasts thrill to see a blossom found only here. World Cup ice climbers dangle 50 meters above a rapt crowd. Mountain guides seasoned by The Dom, Switzerland’s highest peak, eat fondue alongside city dwellers, a local ritual shared side by side. From 17th century grain barns on stone stilts to pioneering 21st century clean air initiatives, everything in Saas-Fee is in harmony with the essence of the place itself.
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