15870
Switzerland/Italy/France
Hiking Below and Beyond Mont Blanc: Switzerland, Italy and France
Explore some of the world’s most picturesque vistas as you walk amid wine regions in Switzerland, pristine glaciers in France and quaint Italian villages in the European Alps.
Program No. 15870RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
3,499
Flights start at
1,200
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13 days
12 nights
28 meals
11 B 7 L 10 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrivals
Villars sur Ollon
D
Eurotel Victoria Villars

Activity note: Hotel check-in is at 2:00 PM. Approximate transfer time: 1.5 hours.

Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel. Water is included in the program cost at all meals. Unless otherwise noted, dinners on this program are typically a three course set menu.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Villars, Switzerland
Villars sur Ollon
B,L,D
Eurotel Victoria Villars

Activity note: Up to 5 miles of walking for 3.5 hours on natural forest trails and on cobblestones. The trail has a gentle descent, and some parts may be slippery if wet.

Breakfast: At the hotel. On this program, breakfasts will offer a typical European style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold-cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: We start from Villars and transfer by bus to Solalex (4806 feet), a beautiful mountain pasture under the breathtaking cliff, Miroir d’Argentine. Discover local geology and then walk through pine forests and alpine meadows to Barboleuse (3772 feet).

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Barboleuse.

Afternoon: After lunch, gently walk to the picturesque village of Gryon (3655 feet) and end today’s walking with a wine and liquor tasting in a local handicraft and food store. Return to Villars via train.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Bretaye, Switzerland, Alpine Farm
Villars sur Ollon
B,L,D
Eurotel Victoria Villars

Activity note: Up to 5 miles of walking for 3.5 hours on natural and mountain trails. The trail begins with a gradual 165 foot ascent before a gradual descent of 230 feet.

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: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
St. Bernard Pass, Transfer to Cogne, Italy
Cogne
B,L,D
Hotel Sant'orso

Activity note: Up to 1 mile of walking for 2 hours on natural trails and cobblestones.

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: 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.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Aosta, Italy
Cogne
B,D
Hotel Sant'orso

Activity note: Up to 2 miles of walking for 2 hours on cobblestones.

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: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most, before returning by public bus to Cogne. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Lillaz, Italy, Urtier River, Gimillan
Cogne
B,L,D
Hotel Sant'orso

Activity note: Up to 4 miles of walking for 3.5 hours on natural and mountain trails with a gradual descent.

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. Enjoy the beautiful views of the mountain peaks and glaciers.

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.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Valnontey, Italy, Alpe Vermiana
Cogne
B,L,D
Hotel Sant'orso

Activity note: Up to 4 miles of walking for 3.5 hours on forest trails and on cobblestones.

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 bread bakes, there will be a liqueur tasting (made from local herbs).

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Courmayeur, Italy, Transfer to Chamonix, France
Chamonix
B,L,D
Hotel Gourmet et Italy

Activity note: Up to 1 mile of walking for 1.5 hours on cobblestones and in town.

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: 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: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Scenic Circular Trail to the Swiss Border
Chamonix
B,L,D
Hotel Gourmet et Italy

Activity note: Up to 5 miles of walking for 3.5 hours on natural and mountain trails.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Take a short ride by local bus to the village of Le Tours and then by cable car to "Les Autannes" (7200 feet). From there, start a circular hike with only minor elevation changes to "Refuge de Col de Balme" (at the Swiss border), then continue on to a mountain lake. Learn about the Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc during a field lecture.

Lunch: Picnic next to the lake.

Afternoon: Walk back to "Charmillon," the intermediate station of the cable car and continue back by cable car and local bus to Chamonix. Alternatively, there's the possibility of extending your walk by walking to Le Tours which adds an additional mile of walking with 1300 feet of elevation change. From Le Tours, take the local bus back to Chamonix.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Aiguille de Midi, France
Chamonix
B,D
Hotel Gourmet et Italy

Activity note: Up to 1 mile of walking for 1 hour on natural trails.

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: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do more of what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Special farewell drink and dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Transfer to Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva
B
Ramada Encore Geneva

Activity note: Up to 2 miles of walking for 2 hours on packed snow, natural trails, and on cobblestones. At La Mer de Glace there are over 400 steps up and down.

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. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. 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. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions or give directions.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Departures
In Flight
B

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: Independent shuttle transfers to the Geneva Airport. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures.