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SWITZERLAND / ITALY / FRANCE

Walking Below and Beyond Mont Blanc: Switzerland, Italy and France

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Road Scholar
Program #15870RJ
13 Days | 12 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderately Challenging
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation Note
Day 11: Aiguille de Midi, 12,700 feet. However, the average elevation is 5800 feet.

Equipment Requirements
Sturdy walking/hiking shoes are required (ankle-high shoes are not required, but highly recommended). Please see the "Walking Boots" note for additional information on proper footgear.

Itinerary for Sep 23 — Oct 5, 2015

Expand all
Day One: Wednesday, September 23 - In Transit
In Transit: Depart US/Canada for international overnight flight to Geneva, Switzerland.

Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Enjoy the pure mountain air during your stay at the charming Eurotel Victoria Villars. Located in Villars, and surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery, the hotel is within walking distance of the heart of this unspoiled country village.

Contact info:
Route des Layeux
Villars-sur-Ollon, 1884 Switzerland
phone: +41244953131
web: www.eurotel-victoria.ch

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, radio and mini bar.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar and lounge, swimming pool, sauna and fitness room, and an Internet cafe directly below the hotel.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: N/A
Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Two: Thursday, September 24 - Arrivals
Note: Approximate transfer time: 1.5 hours. Approximate walking time: 1 hour.

Arrive To: Meet your group by 11:00 AM for the group transfer to Villars sur Ollon (4100 feet). Check-in at the hotel and, if time permits, take a walk through the village. Welcome reception before dinner.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Eurotel Victoria Villars

Meals Included: Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Enjoy the pure mountain air during your stay at the charming Eurotel Victoria Villars. Located in Villars, and surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery, the hotel is within walking distance of the heart of this unspoiled country village.

Contact info:
Route des Layeux
Villars-sur-Ollon, 1884 Switzerland
phone: +41244953131
web: www.eurotel-victoria.ch

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, radio and mini bar.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar and lounge, swimming pool, sauna and fitness room, and an Internet cafe directly below the hotel.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: N/A
Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Three: Friday, September 25 - Villars - "The Wine Route"
Note: Approximate transfer time: 1 hour. Approximate walking time: 3 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Take the train from Villars to Bevieux, then walk through terraced vineyards and woods to Ollon. Short transfer by public train to Aigle (1300 feet), the medieval capital of the wine-growing Chablais area.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Field trip to the Castle of Aigle. This castle displays the cultural aspect of the wine production. Enjoy a wine tasting here, and learn about the castle during a field lecture. Enjoy some free time before taking the public bus back to Villars.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Eurotel Victoria Villars

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Enjoy the pure mountain air during your stay at the charming Eurotel Victoria Villars. Located in Villars, and surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery, the hotel is within walking distance of the heart of this unspoiled country village.

Contact info:
Route des Layeux
Villars-sur-Ollon, 1884 Switzerland
phone: +41244953131
web: www.eurotel-victoria.ch

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, radio and mini bar.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar and lounge, swimming pool, sauna and fitness room, and an Internet cafe directly below the hotel.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: N/A
Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404

Check in time: 2:00 PM


Day Four: Saturday, September 26 - Bretaye Lake / Alpine Farm
Note: Approximate transfer time: 1 hour. Approximate walking time: 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Begin the morning with local transportation to Bretaye (6000 feet), the starting point of today's walking field trip. Hear a field lecture on Bretaye Lake. Walk across alpine meadows with the stunning Swiss Alps at every turn until we reach an alpine farm. Meet the farmer and learn the details of alpine farming and cheese making.

Lunch: Fondue at the farm.

Afternoon: Continue hiking through forested trails to the bus stop, where we board the bus back to Villars.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Eurotel Victoria Villars

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: The Hotel Sant'orso is an elegant hotel located in the village of Cogne. With a panoramic view of the area including the Gran Paradiso Mountain, this hotel is a wonderful place to stay.

Contact info:
Via Bourgeois, 2
Cogne (AO), 11012 Italy
phone: +390016574821
web: www.valledaostapass.com

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, safe and hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a panoramic restaurant, reading room with fireplace, living room, bar, cinema, gym with sauna, panoramic balcony and garden with deck chairs.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Five: Sunday, September 27 - St. Bernard Pass / Transfer to Cogne
Note: Approximate transfer time: 3.5 hours. Approximate walking time: 2 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Following breakfast, transfer by private coach down to the Rhone Valley and up to the incredible St. Bernard Pass (8100 feet), an ancient Roman transalpine route and more recently the path of Napoleon's army into Italy in 1800. En-route there is an excursion to the St. Bernard Museum, the first hospice founded as early as 1049 and appropriately named after Saint Bernard. This name later became famous for the St. Bernard dogs, loyal companions to the monks and mainly used as rescue and watchdogs. Learn about the "History of the Great St. Bernard Pass and the St. Bernard Dogs" during a field lecture.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Continue on the winding road down to the French speaking Valle d’Aosta in Italy and on to Cogne (5000 feet), the main gateway to the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, founded in 1920. Upon arrival, attend an orientation and stroll through the town. Have a welcome drink at the hotel before dinner.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Hotel Sant'orso

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: The Hotel Sant'orso is an elegant hotel located in the village of Cogne. With a panoramic view of the area including the Gran Paradiso Mountain, this hotel is a wonderful place to stay.

Contact info:
Via Bourgeois, 2
Cogne (AO), 11012 Italy
phone: +390016574821
web: www.valledaostapass.com

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, safe and hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a panoramic restaurant, reading room with fireplace, living room, bar, cinema, gym with sauna, panoramic balcony and garden with deck chairs.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Six: Monday, September 28 - Lillaz Waterfall / Urtier River / Gimillan
Note: Approximate transfer time: 30 minutes. Approximate walking time: 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Transfer by local transportation to the village of Lillaz (5304 feet) and the Lillaz waterfall. The walking field trip begins here, continues along the Urtier River and ends in Cogne. Beautiful views of the mountain peaks and glaciers continue to the three waterfalls (total height 492 feet) on the torrent Urtier River.

Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.

Afternoon: Local transportation to the old village of Gimillan (5900 feet), built on a natural terrace. From there, walk across alpine meadows and take in the panoramic views of the majestic mountains of the Gran Paradiso National Park. Learn about Gimillan and the national park during a field lecture. Take a brief stop for coffee before we return to Cogne by minibus. Prior to dinner, watch a video on traditional mining in the Cogne valley.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Hotel Sant'orso

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: The Hotel Sant'orso is an elegant hotel located in the village of Cogne. With a panoramic view of the area including the Gran Paradiso Mountain, this hotel is a wonderful place to stay.

Contact info:
Via Bourgeois, 2
Cogne (AO), 11012 Italy
phone: +390016574821
web: www.valledaostapass.com

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, safe and hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a panoramic restaurant, reading room with fireplace, living room, bar, cinema, gym with sauna, panoramic balcony and garden with deck chairs.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Seven: Tuesday, September 29 - Aosta
Note: Approximate transfer time: 1 hour. Approximate walking time: 2 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Transfer by public bus to the attractive mountain town of Aosta (1900 feet), founded by the Romans in 25 BC - primarily a military camp, and called the “Rome of the Alps.” The setting of this town is pure enchantment, surrounded by mountains. The Roman layout of the streets of Aosta, with its narrow cobbled streets and overhanging upper stories, give the town a very alpine flair. Hear a lecture called "Aosta and Cogne – Past and Present."

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own in Aosta.

Afternoon: Enjoy some free time (2 hours) before returning by public bus to Cogne.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Hotel Sant'orso

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: The Hotel Sant'orso is an elegant hotel located in the village of Cogne. With a panoramic view of the area including the Gran Paradiso Mountain, this hotel is a wonderful place to stay.

Contact info:
Via Bourgeois, 2
Cogne (AO), 11012 Italy
phone: +390016574821
web: www.valledaostapass.com

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, safe and hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a panoramic restaurant, reading room with fireplace, living room, bar, cinema, gym with sauna, panoramic balcony and garden with deck chairs.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Eight: Wednesday, September 30 - Valnontey Valley / Alpe Vermiana / Baking Bread
Note: Approximate transfer time: 15 minutes. Approximate walking time: 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning there will be a short transfer by local transportation to the hamlet of Valnontey, where your walking field trip begins. Start on a gentle one-way trail along the Valnontey River, through forests of coniferous and larch trees to the Alpe Vermiana (5800 feet). Experience fabulous views as you walk closer to the permanently snow-covered Gran Paradiso Mountains. Today's field lectures include "Alpine Garden in Valnontey" and "Liqueurs Made of Local Herbs."

Lunch: Picnic lunch above Valnontey.

Afternoon: Spend the afternoon baking bread, a local tradition in the Valnontey Valley. While the break bakes, there will be a liqueur tasting (made from local herbs).

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Hotel Sant'orso

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Three-Star Hotel

Description: The Hotel Gourmet et Italy is a charming hotel located just steps from the heart of town and at the foot of Mont Blanc. Run by the same family for over a century, the hotel offers a cozy, mellow atmosphere amidst its dramatic surroundings.

Contact info:
96 Rue Du Lyret
Chamonix, 74401 France
phone: +33 450530138
web: www.hotelgourmets-chamonix.com

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, mini bar, free wireless Internet access and a hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a dining room, bar, sauna, outdoor pool and free wireless Internet access in the rooms.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Nine: Thursday, October 01 - Courmayeur / Transfer to Chamonix
Note: Approximate transfer time: 2 hours. Approximate walking time: 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Private coach transfer to Chamonix with an excursion stop and walk in Courmayeur, a striking and fashionable resort located at the foot of Mont Blanc. Continue through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Chamonix (3500 feet).

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After check-in, rejoin the group for a walking field trip of Chamonix. Today's field lecture covers the past and present of Chamonix, and Michel Paccard, first climber of Mont Blanc (15,800 feet) in 1786.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Lodging: Hotel Gourmet et Italy

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Three-Star Hotel

Description: The Hotel Gourmet et Italy is a charming hotel located just steps from the heart of town and at the foot of Mont Blanc. Run by the same family for over a century, the hotel offers a cozy, mellow atmosphere amidst its dramatic surroundings.

Contact info:
96 Rue Du Lyret
Chamonix, 74401 France
phone: +33 450530138
web: www.hotelgourmets-chamonix.com

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, mini bar, free wireless Internet access and a hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a dining room, bar, sauna, outdoor pool and free wireless Internet access in the rooms.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Ten: Friday, October 02 - Chamonix - Petit Balcon Sud
Note: Approximate walking time: 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: The day begins with a walk from the hotel on the north side of Chamonix going slightly uphill above the town (4000 feet). The well-kept Petit Balcon Sud trail leads through forested and open areas and offers the most spectacular views of the north face of Mont Blanc and of course many other white mountain peaks. Learn about the Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc during a field lecture.

Lunch: Picnic on the trail.

Afternoon: Walk back to Chamonix.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Lodging: Hotel Gourmet et Italy

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Three-Star Hotel

Description: The Hotel Gourmet et Italy is a charming hotel located just steps from the heart of town and at the foot of Mont Blanc. Run by the same family for over a century, the hotel offers a cozy, mellow atmosphere amidst its dramatic surroundings.

Contact info:
96 Rue Du Lyret
Chamonix, 74401 France
phone: +33 450530138
web: www.hotelgourmets-chamonix.com

Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, mini bar, free wireless Internet access and a hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a dining room, bar, sauna, outdoor pool and free wireless Internet access in the rooms.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Eleven: Saturday, October 03 - Aiguille de Midi
Note: Approximate transfer time: short train ride and cable car. Approximate walking time: 1 hour.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Today ride the cable car up Mont Blanc, enjoying the marvelous views as it first climbs to Plan de l’Aiguille (7600 feet) and then to Aiguille de Midi (12,700 feet). The panorama on a clear day is simply one of the best in the Alps, with views of mountains as far as the eye can see. If the sky is clear, you may even get a glimpse of the Matterhorn! This is a wonder that attracts people from all over the world. Hear a field lecture on the Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc. Walk from the middle station Plan de l'Aiguille (7600 feet) to the Lac Bleu Lake. Return to Chamonix by cable car.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Enjoy free time this afternoon.

Dinner: Special farewell drink and dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Hotel Gourmet et Italy

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Type: Three-Star Hotel

Description: The Ramada Encore Geneva is a modern hotel with stylish, comfortable rooms and up-to-date amenities. It is located near the city center and is a 15-minute drive from the airport.

Contact info:
Route des Jeunes 10-12
Carouge, CH-1227 Switzerland
phone: +41 22 309 50 00
web: www.ramada-encore-geneve.ch

Room amenities: Each room has a telephone, television, safe, air conditioning, coffee & tea facilities, free wireless Internet access and a hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, bicycle rental, laundry services (for a fee), safe, air conditioning and free wireless Internet access.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights after: N/A
Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404

Check out time: 12:00 PM

Day Twelve: Sunday, October 04 - Transfer to Geneva
Note: Approximate transfer time: 2.5 hours. Approximate walking time: 2 hours. At La Mer de Glace there are over 400 steps to go down and then back up.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Take a morning excursion to La Mer de Glace (6279 feet). The Montenvers rack railway starts from Chamonix and in 20 minutes reaches the bottom of the Mer de Glace, France's largest glacier (approx. 4 miles long, 656 feet thick). Then a cable car takes you to the ice cave. This historic site marked the start of Alpine tourism in the 19th century and offers a panoramic view of famous peaks such as Les Drus and Les Grandes Jorasses.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own in Chamonix.

Afternoon: Transfer by private coach to the hotel in Geneva, Switzerland. Spend the remainder of the day exploring Geneva during free time. You may want to see the large fountain Jet d'eau, the European headquarters of the United Nations, Palais des Nations, or Saint Peter's Cathedral. There are also many museums and gardens to see in Geneva.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Lodging: Ramada Encore Geneva

Meals Included: Breakfast
Type: Three-Star Hotel

Description: The Ramada Encore Geneva is a modern hotel with stylish, comfortable rooms and up-to-date amenities. It is located near the city center and is a 15-minute drive from the airport.

Contact info:
Route des Jeunes 10-12
Carouge, CH-1227 Switzerland
phone: +41 22 309 50 00
web: www.ramada-encore-geneve.ch

Room amenities: Each room has a telephone, television, safe, air conditioning, coffee & tea facilities, free wireless Internet access and a hair dryer.

Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, bicycle rental, laundry services (for a fee), safe, air conditioning and free wireless Internet access.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights after: N/A
Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404

Check out time: 12:00 PM

Day Thirteen: Monday, October 05 - Departures
Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Independent shuttle transfers to the Geneva, Switzerland airport.

Lodging: Ramada Encore Geneva

Meals Included: Breakfast


Free Time Opportunities


Chamonix
The Alpine MuseumThe Alpine Museum, located in the Chamonix Palace, recalls the history and development of Chamonix from its first tourist visitors who came to see the glaciers, to the construction of the cable cars and the rise of winter sports. See a great collection of prints, photographs, maps, rock crystals and other ancient objects. Please note that this museum is closed on the weekends.
For additional information, visit: www.chamonix.com
Cogne
Grand Paradiso SpaVisit the Grand Paradiso National Park, where you can enjoy beautiful surroundings and an outdoor hot tub. Make sure to bring your bathing suit.

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
12 nights of accommodations
28 meals: 11 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 10 dinners
11 Expert-led lectures
15 Field trips
1 Hands-on experiences

Ratings

4.8
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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