This section of the Via Francigena is in Switzerland and follows the shore of Lake Geneva before heading for the border with Italy.
Starting in Lausanne, the walk is relatively flat along the shore of the lake before you then head through the Bernese Alps then ascending the Pennine Alps to your final stop and the gateway to Italy Bourg-St-Pierre.
Arrive into Lausanne, city of the Olympic Committee. Here, there are many attractions for you to visit as well as a plethora of restaurants for you to sample the sumptuous blend of French and traditional Swiss cuisine.
Today you have two options, you can walk the whole way around the shore of the lake to Vevey or you can take a short ferry ride from Ouchy to Cully which is only about half an hour and costs approximately €14 and will save your walking approximately 8 km. Information on the boat times and to purchase tickets can be found on their website, which you can access here. Walking from Lausanne after leaving the city, you will have the lake on your right and steep hillsides of vineyards on your left. These vineyards are part of the Côtes de Lavaux, the largest vineyard area in Switzerland. Passing through small and large lakeside resort towns, you will have ample opportunity to grab a bite to eat or even sample the locally produced wine. Arriving into Vevey, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the lake and Alpine landscape. Vevey was also home to Charlie Chaplin for the last 25 years of his life so be sure to find his statue on the promenade.
From Vevey, you can walk along the lakeside promenade that is adorned with flowers and palm trees before arriving at Château Chillon, a fairytale-esqe castle that is open for visiting if you have the time. Continuing onto, you will head into Villeneuve a lakeside town dating from the Celtic times and which is renowned for its culinary delights and excellent wines. We would recommend treating yourself to a relaxing lunch here as the last section of today is flat and flanked by a mountain on either side and doesn’t have any services until you get to Aigle. The town of Aigle, where you will spend your night, is in the middle of a vineyard and has a medieval castle that is now a Vine and Wine Museum. Here you can relax enjoy some fine cuisine and sample wine from the Aigle vineyards.
Leaving from Aigle you will head across the plain towards the river Rhône, which you will then follow a pathway along the river to St Maurice. Here, you can visit the Abbaye de Saint-Maurice which celebrated 1500 years of existence in 2015 and has relics of Saint-Maurice. Having had a short day walking, you will have plenty of time to explore this charming town so why not visit Grotte aux Fées (Fairy’s Cave) wherein the underground cave there is a small lake fed by a waterfall.
The walk from St Maurice to Martigny is through the valley with the Rhône River on your left and the mountains towering sharply either side and providing spectacular scenery. This predominantly flat walk will pass through many small towns that will provide you with opportunities to take a break and have a snack. One particular town you might wish to stop in is Evionnaz, which has the world’s largest labyrinth. Passing by orchards and vineyards, you will then arrive into the town of Martigny which is located on a bend of the Rhône. This town’s winning feature is its tasty Mediterranean inspired food, so you will be in for a treat no matter where you eat! There are also many sites to visit and for dog lovers, they may want to visit the St Bernard Dog Museum.
Today, you will initially set out in the valley and thus it will be relatively flat before you ascend through the woods and around to the small town of Bovernier. Following the La Dranse River, you will continue through the deep valley under forested paths before emerging and coming to the town of Sembrancher. After Sembrancher, you will have two options to get to Orsieres. There is a lower level route that follows minor roads or a higher level route called the Chemin Napoléon and is mainly on grassy tracks and is the Via Francigena marked way. Passing through woods and farmland, while gently going up and down, you will then end your day arriving down into Orsieres. After the walk today, why not treat yourself to a meal in Samuel Destaing’s Restaurant des Alpes which was awarded a score of 15/20 in the international restaurant guide Gault Millau.
From Orsieres, you will be continually climbing in height as you reach Bourg-St-Pierre. However, the walk is rather pleasant and more undulating that you might expect through forests and meadows. Your stop for the night is the Alpine village of Bourg-St-Pierre, which is the gateway to Italy and is well-known for its welcoming character.
Today we say “Uf Widerluege”.
The closest airport is in Geneva or you also have the option of flying from Zurich.
There are direct flights from Dublin with Aerlingus and AirSwiss to both these airports.
For flights from London there are direct flights to Geneva airport with AirSwiss, British Airways and EasyJet.
To Zurich there are direct flights from London with AirSwiss and British Airways.
Direct flights to Dublin from Geneva are provided by Aerlingus and AirSwiss. Direct flights to London from Geneva are provided by AirSwiss, British Airways and EasyJet.
To get from/to Geneva or Zurich airport you can get a train and information on the times and prices can be found on the following website here.
We can also arrange a private transfer to and from the airport should you require this.