The most challenging and beautiful section of the Via Francigena is its transit of the Alps at the Great St Bernard Pass between Switzerland and Italy. This unforgettable Alpine walk features snow-capped mountain peaks, towering waterfalls and majestic forests, interspersed with castles, Roman ruins and spectacular mountain scenery. This group walk from Lausanne to Aosta is timed to allow a snow-free transit of the Alps, and offers overnights in modest, pilgrim-class accommodations, with dinners and breakfasts included, except as specified. Pricing will be set in December. In the meantime, a €500 reservation fee will hold your place.
Itinerary for the Great St Bernard Pass:
Friday, August 16, 2024 – Gather in Lausanne, Switzerland
– Home to the International Olympic Committee, Lausanne sits on the north shore of beautiful Lake Geneva. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers and prepare for your first day of walking.
Saturday, August 17, 2024 – Lausanne to Vevey (21.0km/13.0miles)
– Leave Lausanne on charming lakeside walks and trails, then head up onto vineyard-covered mountainsides on the way to lakeside Vevey.
Sunday, August 18, 2024 – Vevey to Aigle (25.8km/16.0miles)
– July’s annual Jazz Festival put Montreux on the map. Enjoy its lakeside promenade and then beautiful Chillon Castle before saying goodbye to the lake and heading up the Rhône Valley to Aigle.
Monday, August 19, 2024 – Aigle to St Maurice (16.6km/10.3miles)
– As the valley narrows and the track slowly climbs, mountain towns like Ollons exude Swiss charm. Set along tall cliffs, the town of St Maurice holds one of Europe’s oldest monasteries.
Tuesday, August 20, 2024 – St Maurice to Martigny (16.7km/10.4miles)
– The valley continues to narrow while the boulder-strewn route traverses mountainsides in quiet forests to the accompaniment of waterfalls cascading down steep cliffs.
Wednesday, August 21, 2024 – Martigny to Orsieres (18.4km/11.4miles)
– The route continues to ascend on narrow mountain paths under tall forests. The valleys are just wide enough for a two-lane road, a train track, and your pathway. The section of the path between Martigny Croix and Sembrancher is known as one of the trickiest for footing. If you’re concerned, the van will spirit you ahead to Sembrancher.
Thursday, August 22, 2024 – Orsieres to Bourg St Pierre (14.0km/8.7miles)
– The last night in Switzerland is spent above the tree line in the sparse settlement of Bourg St Pierre after the truly first steep climb of the walk.
Friday, August 23, 2024 – Bourg St Pierre to Col St Bernard (12.6km/7.8miles)
– The climb concludes in an enchanting land of heather, cool streams and tall, snowy peaks. Summit at the historic St Bernard Hospice at the Swiss/Italian border where dogs are still trained to rescue stranded hikers.
Saturday, August 24, 2024 – Col St Bernard to Gignod (22.0km/13.7miles)
– The first steps follow cattle trails down the green peaks and then a path alongside a delightful wayside canal that feeds vast, irrigated fields far below. The hardiest of the group will continue the downhill walk all the way to Aosta, but most will opt for the van to carry them through Aosta’s suburbs into the center city.
Sunday, August 25, 2024 – Depart Aosta.
After a fabulous Alps crossing you can remain in Aosta to tour its Roman and modern sights or continue your self-guided walk in the remainder of the Aosta Valley and beyond.