Spectacular Valais ‘bisse’ to feature on new banknote

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Spectacular Valais ‘bisse’ to feature on new banknote
The bisse d'Ayent. Photo: Commune of Ayent/

The bisse d’Ayent – one of the historic irrigation channels unique to the canton of Valais – will be depicted on the new 100 franc note, the Swiss national bank (SNB) has decided.


Marco Aymon, president of the Ayent commune, told the local Rhône FM ratio that the bank’s decision was “a big surprise” and “like winning the lottery without even playing” given the community itself didn’t know it was even on the cards, reported news agencies.

The channel, built in 1442, connects the villages of Ayent and Grimisuat above the ski resort of Crans Montana and is a particularly impressive example of a bisse.

Dating back centuries, the bisses were constructed to irrigate pastures at altitude in the Valais and as such, many follow spectacular routes, taking the water along hanging wooden structures tacked on to the sheer rock walls with a vertiginous drop below.

Many have been restored and are now popular hiking routes.

The illustration of the bisse d’Ayent forms part of a ‘water’ theme given to the new 100 franc note – not due to come into circulation until 2019 – which will also feature a pair of hands holding water.

Unveiled in stages over the next three years, the country’s new series of banknotes will not depict any particular person, but will illustrate “a characteristic of Switzerland” represented by a place, an action or another graphic element, the SNB has said.

The first in the series, the 50 franc note, took the theme of ‘wind’ and was finally released in April six years later than planned due to problems with the paper supplier.

It’s the ninth series of notes released by the bank since it started producing the country’s banknotes in 1907.

The next in the series, the 20 franc note, with the theme of 'light', is due to be released in spring 2017.



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