Géotope du Chablais - Anzeinde

Anzeinde is located South of the Diablerets massif, between Villars, Gryon and Derborence, in the Alpes Vaudoises. Surrounded by mountains, Anzeinde is a wonderful place to hike, between cows in pasture. From the Pas de Cheville, you have a wonderful view over the 4000 M. summits.

A preserved alpine landscape rich in stories. Pasture and passage way: Anzeinde (Bex)
The very long story of a living landscape.
Coming up until here is already an adventure. If we pay attention to the surrounding landscape, another journey starts: a journey back in time.

First, there are the stories told in mountain huts, around a fondue: just behind, one sees traces of the centuries-long history of the pasture. Then, one meanders through nearby hills, smoothed by the glacier some 20 000 years ago. Finally, looking up towards the Diablerets, time seems limitless, and thus counted in millions of years.The landscape of Anzeinde tells many stories: From a long geological history to everyday adventures on mountain pastures.

The story of rock formation: A shell after another
Sea animal debris (plankton, ammonites, rudists, urchins, bivalves and corals), deposited on the sea floor over 50 million years, make up the towering one thousand meters high of rock to the summit of the Diablerets.

The story of a coal deposit: A tree after another
In more recent times, the sea left the place to marshes in which plants turned slowly into coal. That can be found under Tête Ronde. During the 18th century, attempts were made to exploit it as a fuel but failed as it was too far.

The story of the destruction of the mountains: A stone after another
As soon as the tip of a small hill shows up from under the surface of the earth, water, running down the slopes, ceaselessly washes it away. The existence of vast debris cones at the foot of the walls, where grass won’t grow, shows that mountains are relentlessly broken down.
Why is there a mountain pass here?

Apart from the plain of the Rhone valley, the Pas de Cheville is the only easy passage between the cantons of Vaud and Valais. How was it formed?

1. The meeting of two continents
During the formation of the Alps, the rocks between Europe and Africa were deformed, folded and refolded. The rocks of Anzeinde dale (in yellow) are wedged between two superimposed giant folds (in green), the Diablerets overlooking the Argentine.

2. Water streams
This fragile area (in yellow) is a wonderful opportunity for streams: As digging here is made easier, and as erosion progresses faster along geological boundaries (in red), valleys, such as the valley of Avançon or Lizerne, came into existence, separated by the mountain pass of the Col de Cheville.

3. Glacier
These giant folds (in green) gave birth to great mountain ranges: Diablerets, Argentine, Muveran. During the ice age, glaciers formed amidst these deep cuts. Creeping down towards the valleys, glaciers further molded and enlarged them.

A coveted mountain pasture.
At this altitude, plants only grow three months a year. However, local herds have been grazing to their heart’s content on the 1000-hectare pasture of Azeinde-Pas de Cheville since mediaeval times.
Over the centuries, the inhabitants of Bex have had to defend their pasture against people from Ollon, Gryon and Conthey who also wanted their share of the spoils.

A treasure of trees and plants
The flora of the region of Anzeinde has long been known. Botanists have so far identified 232 species, that is 83% of vaudoise alpine flora. Plenty here to incomparably flavour local cheese!
The variety of rock types, the diversity of the relief (marshes, moraines, sinkholes and screes), a special alpine climate and the proximity of mountain passes boost the incredible biodiversity of the place.

Water and border
Have you noticed? The cantonal border takes a strange detour via the lakes of Moncui on the Valaisan side of the pass. The border was established in 1550 to put an end to conflicts between Bex and Conthey regarding pastures. The only way for them to agree was to let herds from both sides access the water from the precious spring.

Mountain pasture life today
During the summer season, when herds graze on the mountain pasture, shepherds are busy. There is so much to do to attend to the needs of a herd of dairy cows. Discover the daily life of an alpine pasture here.


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1882 Gryon

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