Little Canada's secret treasure
Champex-Lac, a 1500m-high village on a plateau 20 minutes from Martigny, describes itself as "the little Canada of the Valais" because of its setting around a magnificent alpine lake.
A hiker's treasure trove, with boating, mountain biking, beaches and tennis courts in addition, it excels in summer, while in winters it offers snowshoe trails and the St. Bernard Express (the dogs pull sleds for kids) as well as downhill and cross-country skiing.
One Champex-Lac attraction you should not miss is the exceptional botanic garden: over 3000 plant and flower species from the world's mountain biotopes, beautifully landscaped and most identified, in a tiny area you could walk in 10 minutes. But I bet it will take you over an hour because you will want to linger among the pathways and streamlets. The garden, created in 1925, has 15 sections, including one for carnivorous plants, to entice the children of all ages.
July and August are the months to visit. There are guided tours on some Fridays. A "trip around the world in 60 minutes" at 11am and a guide to "medicinal plants of the mountains" at 4pm. There's a festival in July with local products. The garden boutique also sells alpine flowers in pots (from Lucerne).
It is worth checking out other events in Champex-Lac this summer to time your visit, for example a standup paddle boating contest, a Baroque music concertand a Verbier Festival Fest'Off Concert, all in July — before COVID-19.
Until the end of August the underground military fort runs guided tours. In the botanic garden itself, the works of Geneva sculptor Laurent Dominique Fontana are on display.
Website: http://www.flore-alpe.ch/En/ (in English)