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Via Francigena Stage 1: Bourg St Pierre-St Martin

8 Days & 7 Nights 5 Read 1 reviews
  • Crossing the high mountain pass of Great St Bernard famed for its rescue dogs
  • Discovering your quaint agriturismo, set amongst pretty vineyards
  • Staggering Alpine views and a backdrop of mountain scenery as you walk
  • Following the “Chemins de Vignobles” a local wine trail
  • Wandering through the ancient streets of Aosta, an old Roman city
A superb week of walking that begins in the heart of the Alps, crosses the border from Switzerland into Italy, and traverses the high mountain pass of Great St Bernard. You will be surrounded by a backdrop of mountain peaks and follow trails through pretty vineyards and orchards. Explore Bourg St Pierre's medieval remains before setting off to cross the international border and ascending to the Great St Bernard Pass. Reach Rhémy des Bosses, famed for its ham cured with mountain herbs, and Aosta, the principal city of the Aosta Valley. Follow the “Chemins de Vignobles” a vineyard trail and along which you will encounter many castles, stone houses, wooded hillsides, and apple orchards. Pont St Martin, your finishing point, is a small village located on the frontier between the Aosta Valley and Piedmont and lends its name to a photogenic ancient stone bridge.

What To Expect

Complete this section of the pilgrimage route in its own right, or add further stages at the same time. This particular section is graded as moderate to strenuous. You walk through the Alps and across the Great St Bernard Pass, hence the rating. You will have a backdrop of mountain peaks surrounding you and you will also walk through vineyards and the Aosta Valley which is full of thick woods and glorious pastures.

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent holiday.

Activity:

Pilgrim Trail | You will follow a historic pilgrimage trail, in the footsteps of generations of travellers

Ideal if you have an interest in:

Spiritual Journeys, Historical Journeys, Mountains

Grade & Terrain

This walking holiday is graded moderate overall. The daily distances vary quite a lot between shorter and longer ones, so you must be capable of also walking the longer distances.

You need to be in good physical shape to complete the full Via Francigena as there are also some elevation gains and losses along the way.

As this route tries to remain as true to the original pilgrimage route as possible, you will not only walk on trails and unpaved roads but also on asphalt part of the way. The ‘traditional’ walk is alongside some busy main roads, which is why we give other suggestions (especially near Rome). Please take care when walking along roads and always be mindful of other road users. 

Navigation

You will be provided with detailed route notes and maps to help you find your way. The trail is also marked by the official red and white signs of the Via Francigena, which have a picture of a yellow pilgrim on them. Unlike the more well-established Caminos, the Via Francigena has seen a relatively recent resurgence in popularity, meaning that trail marking is intermittent. Not every region has invested in consistently waymarking the trail. 

You will be able to follow the route in your Macs Adventure smartphone app and we're confident that using the two elements alongside each other should go a long way to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem-free trip.

Accommodation Information

During your trip you will stay in a variety of accommodations. The properties range from private rooms in pilgrims' hostels to 2, 3 and 4* hotels as well as B&B's and guesthouses. At times you will be staying in remote towns and villages, therefore the accommodations in these places are the best that these particular areas have to offer.

If you require single rooms for your party we would be happy to accommodate you. Solo walkers are also welcomed.

Important: Due to the remote location of some of the smaller towns and villages along the way it is possible that some of your overnight hotels will be a few kilometres from the route or in a nearby town or village. If this is the case, you will always receive directions to and from the trail in your route notes. Please be aware that this may result in slightly longer or shorter walking days.

Meals

Daily breakfasts are included. Breakfasts are usually continental or Italian-style with a choice of bread, croissants, meats, and cheeses. Sometimes it is possible to order packed lunches at your hotel or B&B the evening before or you can buy lunch in groceries, cafes, and restaurants en route. You can opt to include dinners as well if you wish.

Included
  • Overnights in a variety of accommodations
  • Breakfast
  • Baggage transfers
  • Detailed maps and routes notes and a comprehensive information pack
  • Transfers where mentioned in the itinerary
  • Access to the GPS tracks using the Macs Adventure smartphone app
  • Emergency telephone assistance from our team in Italy and our UK office if required
Excluded
  • Travel to and from the start and finish points
  • Public transportation where mentioned in the itinerary
  • Lunches & dinners
  • Drinks & snacks
  • Any additional travel en route, should you wish to miss a day's walking
  • Baggage transfers
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Mountain rescue / emergency assistance
Extras
  • Additional nights before, after or during the trip
  • Half board supplement

When To Go

This trip is best enjoyed from mid-June onwards as the first section crosses the Alps and snow can still be on the ground up until July. Summer is a wonderful time to do the trip but it will be hot in August. Autumn is a lovely time of year as the colours start to change and the heat of the summer has subsided. This trip is available from mid-June to mid-September.

Getting to the Start

The best airport to fly into in order to reach Bourg St Pierre is Geneva. This airport is served by many airlines from the UK and from further afield. From Geneva Airport it is possible to take a direct train to Martigny and then a bus from the train station in Martigny to Bourg St Pierre. You will find information regarding train schedules and fares at the Swiss National Rail or Trenitalia website.

Getting from the End

Take a train from Pont St Martin to either Turin Airport or Milan Malpensa Airport. The journey from Pont St Martin to Turin Porto Nuovo Station takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and from Pont St Martin to Milan Central Station (with several changes) around 2 and a half hours. Upon arrival in these cities you would then need to take an airport bus or train shuttle. You will find information regarding train schedules and fares at the Trenitalia website.

Baggage Transfer

Enjoy the ease of walking with a light backpack and having your main luggage moved for you each day (included). Your bags will be collected from your accommodation and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.

General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Equipment

This depends on the time of year you are walking; if travelling in the spring or autumn it can be cool in the morning, but it soon heats up in the late morning and afternoon so make sure and bring some layers with you.  During the summer months, the area can be prone to afternoon thunderstorms, so waterproofs are also essential in case of heavy showers. You will receive a full kit list as part of your trip documentation.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation, and hospital care.

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Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Bourg-Saint-Pierre Day 2 Bourg-Saint-Pierre to Great St Bernard Pass 7 miles / 12 km Day 3 Great St Bernard Pass to Etroubles 8 miles / 13 km Day 4 Etroubles to Aosta 10 miles / 16 km Day 5 Aosta to Chambave 17 miles / 28 km Day 6 Chambave to Verres 17 miles / 27 km Day 7 Verres to Pont-Saint-Martin 10.5 miles / 17 km Day 8 Onward Travel

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