Valais: Tagvoll, Röstigraben, Wine and Goats

Because of the Swiss German video that I have written about, I had been curious to go to the canton of Valais (home of the Matterhorn) where they speak such a unique dialect. I didn’t really hear too much of the regional dialect there, I’m guessing because Zermatt is such a tourist town that the locals revert to High German (or English) in order to sell their wares. I DID hear a train conductor say Tagvoll for Guten Tag, and I knew what he meant because I have now watched that video about 50 times.

The canton of Valais is smack dab in the middle of the Röstigraben. This literally translates as hashed potato ditch. This humorous term (should one think that the Swiss are devoid of humor) highlights the language divide (the trench) between the German-speaking part of Switzerland and the French-speaking part. The Rösti, of course, is the potato dish of which I have blogged. The green area represents the French part, the orange the German part. Zermatt, at the south end of Valais is also very close to Italy.

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I also know that Valais (pronounced Wallees up here in Zürich) is a great wine-growing region, and we saw many vineyards along the mountain sides from the train windows. We have had some white wine from there with the raclette, and it was excellent.

Another thing I noticed from the train windows were these goats which look to me like miniature yaks, and also like Black and White cookies. They are called Valais Blackneck Goats among other names. Only about 3000 of these goats are left in the world, with most of them in Valais, but some in Italy, Austria and Germany.

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