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 active trip.
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, Alpine & Mountains
Activity Level & Terrain
This walking holiday is graded moderate overall. However the daily distances vary quite a lot between shorter and a lot 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.
You will be provided with detailed route notes and maps to help you find your way. As always when walking you should be able to read a map and use a compass in case of bad weather. 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. However these waymarks will not appear all along the way but intermittently.
Unlike many of 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), and you should be confident in navigating with a compass and map, as well as using the route notes that we will provide you with. A few of the original sections of the Via Francigena are now (fairly busy) roads, and where necessary you may either follow these roads for a short time, or divert away from the traditional route to enjoy a more relaxed walk.
During your Via Francigena self-guided walking tour in Italy you will stay in a variety of accommodations. The properties range from private rooms in pilgrim's hostels, 2, 3 and 4* hotels as well as B&Bs and guesthouses. At times you will be staying in remote towns and villages, therefore the accommodation in these places are the best that these particular areas have to offer.
During the high season you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the description. If those listed are unavailable the alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. Solo walkers are also welcome and again a supplement is payable.
Daily breakfasts are included. Breakfasts are usually continental or Italian-style with a choice of breads, 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
- Breakfasts included
- Detailed maps and routes notes and a comprehensive information pack
- 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
- Baggage Transfers
- 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 time of year as the colours start to change and the heat of the summer has subsided. 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 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.
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.
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.
If you choose the option of baggage transfers (additional charge) your bags will be transferred between your accommodations. Just ask your hosts where to leave your bags in the morning and they will get picked up. Please limit your bags to one per person of 20kgs.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive in Bourg-Saint-Pierre
Begin your walking tour in the Valais region of Switzerland. Bourg St 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 St 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 cow bell or two.
Upon reaching the pass you will see an historical hostel which was founded by Agostinian 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, the 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 and 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 with 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 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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