Via Francigena Stage 1: Bourg St Pierre-St Martin8 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
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent holiday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Overnights in a variety of accommodations
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
EquipmentThis 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.
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.
Your required fitness level will depend upon which section of the Via Francigena you choose to do. Please read the grade and terrain section of each individual section or the full walk to give you an idea of the walking on that particular itinerary.
Certain sections of the Via Francigena, such as the start and end of the trail, are very popular. Therefore it is better to book earlier rather than later to ensure bookings at the hotels and B&Bs
Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes good waterproof gear, walking shoes/boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.
You may be able to take public transport or taxis onto the next accommodation, please check with the accommodation provider or our local partner as they are best able to give you up to date advice.
You will be asked to leave your luggage at reception or in a dedicated room before setting off and your luggage will be returned to you before 5 PM the same day in the new location. Please keep your bag to a minimum of 20 kg in weight.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive in Bourg-Saint-Pierre
Begin your walking tour in the Valais region of Switzerland. Bourg-Saint-Pierre is the gateway to Italy from Switzerland and is full of charm and history.
Explore the newly restored mill and ancient buildings, such as the Church of Saint Pierre with its Romanesque tower and the medieval hospice which sheltered pilgrims walking along the Via Francigena in the Middle Ages.
This family run hotel-restaurant is located in a stunning location on Route Grand-Saint-Bernard.
This morning begins with a sustaining breakfast in your hotel before setting off on today’s challenging walk which has a 750m elevation gain. Not only will you cross the border from Switzerland into Italy, but you will also be walking up to the Great St Bernard Pass, situated at 2473m. The mountain scenery here is stunning and at times you will be completely immersed in nature with only the sound of the wind and perhaps a cowbell or two.
Upon reaching the pass you will see a historical hostel which was founded by Augustinian Friars more than 1,000 years ago. It was at one time a hospice and famous for its St Bernard dogs that would rescue travellers in distress. Specifically bred to traverse deep snow and sniff out those who were lost, St Bernard is still used in the same capacity today.
Built in 1933, this famous hotel offers warm hospitality and fantastic cuisine.
Sip your morning coffee or tea whilst taking in views of the crown of high mountains surrounding the pass and the lovely crystal clear tarn next to your hotel. Walk along the trail in the direction of St Rhémy en Bosses, a place well known for the production of ham which is cured with mountain herbs.
Descend into Etroubles, a medieval village where Roman soldiers had their winter headquarters. It is also situated in the Great San Bernardo Valley and you may sit on the terrace of your hotel and taste the food cooked by their expert chef, surrounded by breath-taking views.
Peaceful hotel with colourful flower garden.
Your walk today takes you along the “rus”, ancient irrigation channels built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Engineering masterpieces, they were built to provide irrigation on the dry, south-facing slopes and utilized water from melting glaciers. Some of these “rus” are still in use today, but many were abandoned. Follow these channels until they give way to a steep downhill trail into Aosta.
The town of Aosta is the principal town of the Aosta Valley and where the inhabitants speak both French and Italian. Here you will see that the ancient town walls of Augusta Prætoria Salassorum are still almost intact in their entirety. The Roman Forum also remains and this building is annexed to the cathedral that was built in the 4th century, but replaced in the 11th century with a new edifice.
Chalet style hotel with beautiful gardens.
For the next few days, as well as following the Via Francigena, you will also follow the “Chemins de Vignobles” a wine trail that takes you through local vineyards. In the past this area was heavily fortified by castles and today you will encounter three, Quart at the highest point, Nus, located on a cliff and Fenis at the bottom of the valley.
This evening you will stay in an agriturismo just outside Chambave which produces its own wine, such as Chambave Muscat. Enjoy dinner here made with their own produce and wines from their own vines.
Beautiful sustainable, working farm with guest rooms situated along the Via Francigena.
On the Via Francigena route today you continue to be surrounded by a backdrop of high mountains and you will also pass vineyards and orchards. The River Evançon flows through the bottom of the valley whilst the imposing and majestic Verrès Castle stands at the entrance to a side valley called Val d’Ayas. This fortress has walls that are 2m thick and can only be reached on foot.
Tonight will be spent in a hotel in the small town of Verrès overlooked by pretty hills and located close to the Parco Regionale del Mont Avic.
Giovanni and Emanuela welcome you to their fantastic restaurant with guest rooms, family-run since 1984.
Today you will discover many interesting sights, starting with the Echallod Bridge, built by the Romans and which spans over the Dora Baltea River enabling you and other pilgrims and travellers to continue on the road to Rome. Next, see the Bard Fortress which now houses the Museum of the Alps, and was originally built in the 10th century. This afternoon you will begin to follow an original consular Roman road called the Via Delle Gallie.
Enter Pont St Martin, your destination for this section of Via Francigena and a pretty village located on the border between Valle d’Aosta and Piedmont. Famed for its Roman bridge of the same name you may wander through the streets and appreciate this strategic gateway to the Alps from Italy.
The hotel offers services designed to accommodate the best possible customer. The traditional and international flavors of our restaurant are also available.
After breakfast your walking holiday will come to an end. See the Travel Info section for some useful details for your onward travel.
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