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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.
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.

Tour Style:

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

Activity:

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

Ideal if you have an interest in:

Spiritual Journeys, Historical Journeys, Mountains

Activity Level & Terrain

This tour is suitable for people that are in excellent physical condition. It is rated moderate to strenuous. You will be walking through the Alps at the beginning of the tour and therefore you will experience some elevations gains and losses (in particular elevation losses) throughout. No section of this walking tour is flat, and you will have mountain scenery throughout, which gives way to wooded hillsides and vineyards as you travel through the Aosta Valley. As this route tries to remain as true to the original pilgrimage route as possible, not only will you walk on trails and unpaved roads, but also on asphalt part of the way.

Navigation

The trail in the most part is well marked but in some of the agricultural areas, such as the cultivated lowlands, this does become sparser. Along the length of the route, it also travels through several different municipalities and the style of the markers can vary between them and not every region has invested in consistently waymarking the trail.

The type of markers includes brown metal plates with two walkers and the route name on them or smaller ones showing a pilgrim and an arrow pointing the right way at road junctions. Red and white signs with a yellow pilgrim on them are also common. There are also signs with little yellow pilgrims on them and a white arrow which points towards Rome (those that are the same but with a yellow arrow lead to Santiago). In the Valle d’Aosta the signs tend to be yellow with Via Francigena written on them along with a route number.

Even if the signs can be lacking or confusing at times, navigation is straightforward as you can use the Macs Adventure Smartphone App which has maps, GPS tracks, and daily route information. Simply download the GPS tracks for offline use and follow the route on your phone with the assurance that navigation will be simple, and you can’t get lost.

Experience & Fitness

You need to be a regular walker and in good physical shape to complete the Full Via Francigena. If you are doing shorter stages then these are less demanding, but the per day mileage still includes longer distances on some days and a couple of the stages include ascents and descents, especially in the foothills of the Alps at the start of the Via Francigena route. We would recommend taking training walks carrying your daypack ahead of going on this trip.

Accommodations

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
  • Breakfasts included
  • Baggage Transfers
  • Detailed maps and routes notes and a comprehensive information pack
  • Private 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
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Mountain rescue / emergency assistance
Extras
  • Additional nights before, after or during the trip
  • Baggage Transfers
  • Half board supplement

When To Go

This trip is available from mid-June to mid-September. This particular section is not available any earlier or later than this time frame as the Great St Bernard Pass is very high and the weather would be too unfavourable. You can start your walk on any date in the season.

Spring in Italy and Switzerland is sublime. However, because you are crossing a high mountain pass this tour is not available to book until the middle of June. Autumn is a great time of year as the landscape is made up of a gold and red pallet so early September is unmissable. During the summer months is also an ideal time, as the weather will be at its best.

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.

Luggage Transfer

Baggage transfers are not included as standard, however you can pay an additional fee for this service. If you choose to include baggage transfers we request that you have only one piece of luggage per person and it should weigh only 20kg.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.

Please be prepared by packing all necessary items. 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, a day pack, sun hat, and sunscreen.

Online Documents
At Macs Adventure we care about the environment. We’re taking action to minimise the impact we have by converting the majority of our tour documentation for online delivery. On this tour, most of your detailed tour information will be digitally delivered. You will have access to this documentation via “My Account” on our website and the Macs Adventure Smartphone App.

Equipment

There are three main pieces of equipment that are essential to you enjoying your pilgrimage, and they are comfortable walking shoes with good wool or anti-blister socks, and a day pack that gives you good back support.

Most surfaces along the way are smooth and so walking shoes should suffice rather than boots. It is hard surface walking for the most part, so we recommend walking shoes that have a good level of padding or walking socks that offer cushioning. There are a few sections of the route which include mountain paths, in particular in Stage 1 in the Alps. For this part of the route waterproof walking boots with good ankle support and sturdy tread are recommended.

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, or you may find since it’s still hot that a lightweight rain poncho is more suitable.

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.

How fit do I need to be?
How far in advance do I need to book?
What personal equipment do I need?
What happens if I cannot walk a stage?
How do the baggage transfers work?

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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