From Martigny to Orsières. We start to climb towards the Grand Saint Bernard Pass!
Martigny is chosen as a starting point by many Francigena pilgrims who decide to start the route 50 kilometers before the legendary Grand Saint Bernard Pass. This allows travelers to enjoy an extraordinary alpine passage and, above all, to train their muscles before a long descent to Aosta.
Martigny is a beautiful Gallo-Roman city that has a great cultural offer. For this reason, yesterday we decided to take a day off, discovering archaeological sites and local cultural heritage, in addition to unmissable Gianadda and Barry foundations (dedicated to Saint Bernard dogs).
Here we are ready to leave at 8 in the morning. It’s 10 degrees, the temperature plummeted last night. If it continues, let’s prepare a cap, gloves and thermal socks for the next two days!
Today the menu of the day offers: 20km, a difference in altitude that takes us to almost 1000 meters above sea level, over 6 hours of walking, diving in the Alps and the first real climbs to the summit. In short, it starts to get serious!
Elena is walking with me, let’s go together! There is nothing more beautiful than sharing a day’s walk with a good travel companion.
The route follows the signs of the traditional yellow Swiss Mobil pilgrim accompanied by the panels with the writing E70 (in inhabited centers) and yellow prisms (in the woods). The path at the exit of Martigny begins to rise a little and the Dranse river is almost always visible, which becomes a useful reference even for those who, like me, do not orient themselves very much. We arrive at the small village of Bovernier after an hour and a half for the first stop for coffee and croissants.
At the exit we enter a forest that seems to never end. We are in the shade, we always skirt the river and on our left, downstream, we hear sounds of cars on a busy road. The path is sometimes challenging because it narrows and you have to be careful where you put your feet. The ground is still wet from the rain the day before. A tip: in case of bad weather, it is perhaps necessary to postpone this stage.
Another stop in Sambrancher. Then we start climbing, returning to the woods that keep us company. By now I begin to become attached to the alpine moss that is trodden along the path. It is a bucolic landscape. Suddenly we see Valplantes plantations, a agrocompany that for 35 years has been producing over 30 types of plants to supply herbs for legendary Ricola candies. We will have to stock up before returning!
Here we are in Orsières, a small tourist resort in the heart of the Alps that has Roman origins. An obligatory place to climb the Grand Saint Bernard Pass.
It is an opportunity to meet Gaëtan Tornay, a director of tourism office of Orsières and a vice president of the European Association of the Via Francigena. The Via Francigena in Switzerland has an extraordinary potential that we will have to try to make the most of.
Meanwhile, two more stages and we are at the top!