The Pierre Gianadda Foundation in the Rhone Valley town Martigny offers visitors to the Valais an excellent opportunity to enjoy art, history, vintage cars, and culture. Martigny is an easy day-trip destination from the Lake Geneva region and Swiss ski resorts.
The Fondation Pierre Gianadda is a large cultural complex beautifully located in Martigny in the Rhone Valley of Valais, Switzerland. This art museum offers superb temporary art exhibitions, a small collection of very rare vintage cars, modern art in a sculpture garden, Gallo-Roman items, and occasional concerts. Martigny is a short drive from the Lac Léman region with excellent Autoroute as well as railway access to the Valais region.
The Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny, Switzerland
The Foundation Pierre Gianadda combines a wide variety of museums, galleries, and historic items in a large exhibition area in Martigny. In addition to the main building, further exhibits can be seen in the large park and additional buildings.
Visitors can see the following at the Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny:
- The Gallo-Roman Museum (Musée Gallo-Romain) on the first floor has exhibits of items founded in the Martigny region from the Gallo-Roman period.
- The Automobile Museum (Musée de l’automobile) in the basement has a magnificent collection of around 50 vintage cars, including numerous very rare and unique models produced in Switzerland.
- The Franck Collection (Collection Louis et Evelyn Franck) is a small collection of mostly impressionist paintings.
- Sculpture Garden (Parc de Sculptures) with around 40 modern sculptures and a few Roman ruins.
- Temporary exhibitions of astonishing quality, which is often the main reason visitors travel from afar to Martigny. These thematic exhibitions have top works from major museums and private collections worldwide – for most of 2011, works of Monet will be on display. Often several temporary exhibitions run concurrently – the main exhibition space is the lower floor of the main building but photos and drawings may also line the passage ways to the basement. A further large exhibition space is the Vieil Arsenal – it is in the gardens behind the restaurant and easily overlooked.
- Concerts (mostly chamber music) are held in the exhibition hall a few times per month.
Opening Hours and Tickets for the Foundation Pierre Gianadda
The Fondation Pierre Gianadda is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (usually 9 am to 7 pm from June to November). Admission is a fairly steep but reflects the high quality of the exhibitions. Adults pay CHF20 but several discount tickets are available, eg for pensioners, students, children, and families. Guided visits are available most Wednesday evenings at 8 pm – no additional charge. The Swiss Museum Pass is accepted.
During major exhibitions, Swiss Railways usually offer RailAway package deals that include transportation by train and bus as well as admission to the foundation at a discount of around 20%. Visitors from Italy with a one-way ticket for the Grand-Saint-Bernard tunnel and a Fondation Pierre Gianadda admission ticket may return to Italy for free via the tunnel within three days.
Concerts – mostly chamber music – are frequently held in the main hall of the museum. Ticket prices generally range from around CHF30 to 120.
Transportation to the Foundation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny
Getting to the Fondation Pierre Gianadda is very easy by car or train. Martigny is in the elbow of the Rhone Valley in Valais with very good railway and road connections to the Lac Léman region. Driving times from Lake Geneva towns are around 90 min from Geneva, 50 minutes from Lausanne and 30 minutes from Montreux. It is also within very easy reach from the Valais ski resorts.
Drivers should leave the A9 Autoroute at Martigny-Fully (exit 21) and drive through Martigny – the museum is at the far-end of town at Rue du Forum 59, 1920 Martigny, next to the Alps. Brown signpost boards are clear from the first traffic circle. If arriving from the Grand St Bernhard tunnel, use the exit Martigny-Expo (exit 22). Ample free parking is available close to the museum.
If arriving by train, change at CFF SBB Martigny station to the Martigny-Orsières line and alight at gare Martigny-Bourg (3 minutes, usually hourly), which is right behind the foundation. Alternatively, use the municipal bus towards Martigny-Croix (10 minutes, twice per hour) from Martigny station to the stop Fondation Pierre Gianadda, which is a block from the museum.
See Swiss Railways for timetables and tickets. Sometimes discount RailAway transportation and admission combination tickets are available.
A short walk from the parking lot of the foundation is the remains of a Roman amphitheater that may be seen for free (when not in use for concerts or shows). Follow the signposting towards the Amphithéâtre romain or the Musée et Chiens du St Bernard (Museum and Dogs of St Bernard). The distance to the amphitheater and the dog museum is so small that it is not worth moving the car for.