On Foot from France to Italy to Switzerland

Trip Level

This trip is Level 5, Strenuous. All trip members should have good hiking experience, but no technical climbing experience is necessary. Most hiking is at altitudes between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, and the maximum elevation reached is 8,800 feet. Daily hikes range from four to eight hours. All participants must be in good physical condition. There are long daily ascents and descents of up to 3,000 to 4,000 feet in each direction. On most days, we end the hike with long, steep descents. Of course, you are always free to skip a day’s hike and travel to the next destination in the support vehicle. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in top physical condition for the trip.

In Chamonix, we stay in the wonderful Grand Hotel des Alpes. Outside of Chamonix, we stay in comfortable (but not luxurious) small hotels and pensions, with shared bathrooms on a couple of nights of the trip. They are rustic, well located for hikers, and continuously busy in the summer hiking season. Please note that these are hikers’ hotels, not five-star resorts. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but are not always of uniform size or amenities.

Our Trip Leaders try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Single rooms are offered when possible, but those who pay the Single Supplement may have to share a room for up to two nights during the trip. At the Auberge de la Nova, couples may also have to share a room.

All meals are included. Evening meals are at our hotels, and they will be hearty mountain fare. A support vehicle will transport the group’s luggage daily. We use many forms of transportation as we travel during the trip, so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack/rucksack.

We strongly urge you to “train up” for your trip. Your enjoyment of the trip will be very dependent on your level of fitness. The best training for hiking is hiking, especially over hills or rough terrain. Next best are running, swimming, bicycling or other sports exercise. Stair-climbing machines are excellent preparation for hiking uphill. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule at least a couple of months before departure. Your feet should also be well prepared—make sure your hiking boots are sturdy and thoroughly broken-in.  Altitude is not a problem on these trips. The itineraries are worked out to take you gently to higher altitude, giving you plenty of time to acclimatize. However, some people still find they get a few problems when they first reach high altitude. Slight headache and sleeplessness are the most common problems.

On most days, breakfast will be around 7:30 am. You should bring your packed bag to the hotel lobby when you come down for breakfast on days when we will be changing hotels. We usually leave the hotel at around 8:00 or 8:30 am. Lunch will usually be either in a small village, mountain lodge or picnic spot amidst the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Most evening meals will be taken at our hotels and will be hearty, nourishing mountain fare, often with the cuisine the region is noted for. Vegetarians please note that we will accommodate dietary needs as best as possible, but it is a good idea to bring along protein bars and other supplements. Please note that in Europe, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 7:30 pm.

Each day will include anywhere from three to eight hours of hiking, with options that give us time for visiting small villages and other interesting places en route. Of course, trip members are always free to skip a day's hike and travel to the next destination in the support vehicle. On most days, a support vehicle will transport the group's luggage, so you only need to carry a daypack for items you need for the day (sweater, camera, water bottle). We may use many forms of transportation as we travel during the trip, so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack/rucksack.

Weather

Temperatures are likely to reach highs in the 60s during the day, with cooling breezes and occasional rain. At night the temperature will drop quite a bit, depending on the altitude.  Mountain weather is fickle. It can range from blue skies with the temperature in the 70s to cloudy, wet, cold days on which rain gear and warm garments are necessary. The early-season departures could encounter snow on the trails. During the trip, you are likely to experience a full range of weather conditions. A down jacket is not necessary, though some people may like a down vest to don over sweater or jacket. The itinerary is planned as described in the preceding pages. However, as in any mountain trip, we will remain flexible with regard to weather and other local conditions in choosing our routes.

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

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