Our Journeys

A Grand Meander Through French Savoy, Switzerland, and the Italian Alps
September 1 -September 12, 2018

$4,680

A Grand Meander Through French Savoy, Switzerland, and the Italian Alps


MAP



ITINERARY


DAY 0 - August 31 - Friday

Fly from the USA to Geneve

DAY 1 - September 1 - Saturday: Arrival

Upon your arrival to Geneve airport, you’ll be transferred to your hotel in Annecy. After checking-in, you’ll meet the rest of the group for a welcome talk and dinner. Sleep in Annecy.

DAY 2 - September 2 - Sunday: Lac d'Annecy

Today, you’ll shake off your jetlag with a hike along the shores of the beautiful alpine lake of Annecy, Lac d’Annecy. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the heart of Annecy’s old quarters and wander around its beautiful open market that, on Sundays, hosts local artisans as well as food purveyors from the valley. Dinner will be at a quaint restaurant and will surely impress your taste buds! Hiking time 3 hrs - with an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet max (depending if doing the whole hike or just a part of it, to a nice viewpoint). Sleep in Annecy.

DAY 3 - September 3 - Monday: Lac Blanc

Today might very well be your favorite day as we’ll visit one of the world’s most famous ice caves - an Alpine mecca since the 1700 century! We’ll take Chamonix’s famous rack and pinion railway to get to Montenvers that sits at 6276 feet. From there, you can admire the gorgeous panorama of the Mer de Glace glacier, the Drus and the Grands Jorasses. We’ll then go into the very heart of the glacier, the Grotte de Glace and learn about its erosion over the past century. After a traditional alpine meal, you’ll have the opportunity to go on a short but steep hike to another gorgeous view point where, over the years, visitors have built a cairn of stones. From there, you’ll be able to enjoy the view of Grands Montets, Aiguille des Grands Charmoz, and Aiguille de la République. Hiking time approx 1 1/2 hrs with about 1,200 feet elevation gain, plus visiting time at the Grotto (w about 430 steps to get to the entrance of the cave). If preferred we can add a leg to the hike making it about 3 1/2 to 4 hrs hike and ending at Plain de l'Aiguille. Sleep in Chamonix

DAY 4 - September 4 - Tuesday: Montenvers, Grotte de Glace & hike to Signal Forbes (Gran Balcon Nord)

Today, we’ll take the Aiguille du Midi panoramic cable ride to one of the most breathtaking viewpoints of the Alps. From the summit terrace of Aiguilles du Midi, at 12,604 feet, you can enjoy the 360° view of the Italian, French, and Swiss Alps. You’ll then go to the opposite side of the valley for mushroom hunting to one of Ale’s favorite places. The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax at the swimming pool of the hotel or wandering around Chamonix. Hiking time: about 3 hrs with about 1,200 feet elevation gain. Sleep in Chamonix

DAY 5 - September 5 - Wednesday: Aiguilles du Midi and Mushroom hunting

Today, we’ll take the Aiguille du Midi panoramic cable ride to one of the most breathtaking viewpoints of the Alps. From the summit terrace of Aiguilles du Midi, at 12,604 feet, you can enjoy the 360° view of the Italian, French, and Swiss Alps. You’ll then go to the opposite side of the valley for mushroom hunting to one of Ale’s favorite places. The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax at the swimming pool of the hotel or wandering around Chamonix. Hiking time: about 3 hrs with about 1,200 feet elevation gain. Sleep in Chamonix

DAY 6 - September 6 - Thursday: Lac d’Emosson and Dinousaur traces

Today, we’ll head toward Lac d’Emosson, in Switzerland, a reservoir in the canton of Valais, which has been producing hydroelectric power for the surrounding area since 1925. This impressive civil engineer project, perched high above the France-Swiss border, forms a large blue lake with walking paths and forest all around it. There, some 240 million years ago, a herd of dinosaurs passed and imprinted their tracks in the clay. Over the course of geological time and tectonic movements, these old lands rose to their current heights. In 1976, geologist G. Bronner discovered what is today the most significant deposit of tracks left by these reptiles. Hiking time: about 3 1/2 hours with round-trip to the hut of Vieux-Emosson. If the group prefers a more strenuous hike, we can do the Vieux-Emosson footprint hike, which is about 5 1/2 hrs instead. Sleep in Chamonix

DAY 7 - September 7 - Friday: Rifugio Bonatti

Today, we’ll say good-bye to France and drive through the Mt. Blanc tunnel crossing. Once on the Italian side, we will hike the first leg of the so-called Tour Du Mont-Blanc. The trail goes along the slopes of the Mont de la Saxe and gains about 1440 feet of elevation to reach Rifugio Bonatti that sits at 6647 feet. Along the way, we’ll be mesmerized by the beauty of the Val Ferret, in particular the view of the Tete of Ferret, Mont Blanc, and Grande Jorasse. Before reaching the rifugio, we’ll go through a beautiful forest of fir trees and learn about what locals hunt and harvest there. We’ll also pass by typical mountain cabins, baite, used by shepherds as shelters during the summer months during which they live at alpine altitudes with their flock. Hiking time: about 4 1/2 hrs, with an elevation gain of about 1,300 feet. Sleep in Cogne.

DAY 8 - September 8 - Saturday: Gran Paradiso National Park

Today, you’ll have an easy, but scenic, hike into the Gran Paradiso National park. First, we will stroll around the Paradisia Botanical Alpine Garden to see a wonderful selection of the local flora firsthand. A pleasant hike to the Lillaz waterfalls completes our afternoon. Dinner will be an occasion to savor some of the mountain cheese cooked on the “piastra ollare” – a traditional slab made with a particular stone of the area. Hiking time: about 2 1/2 hrs and 620 feet of elevation gain. Sleep in Cogne

DAY 9 - September 9 - Sunday: Rifugio Sella

Today, we have a more challenging ascent to the mountain hut Rifugio Sella. It's about five hours (round trip) up to a beautiful alpine meadow where we'll have a warm lunch at the hut before retracing our steps. The trail is about three-and-a-half miles each way and climbs 3,000 feet. Hiking time: about 6 hrs, with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. As an alternative, we can do a very scenic shorter hike, the Epinel-Gimillan one, which is about 2 1/2 hrs long, with an elevation gain of about 1,050 feet. Sleep in Cogne.

DAY 10 - September 10 - Monday: Aosta and Cheese Tasting

Today, we’ll leave Cogne and venture to the city of Aosta, an important Roman outpost and today’s capital of the Italian region Valle d’Aosta. You will be surprised by the lesser-known beauties of this dramatic region and the impressive architectural heritage from its Roman and medieval past. We’ll discover the important castles of the area, including Fenis, famed for its many towers and battlemented walls and Issogne, famous for its unique frescoes. You will also visit a producer of Fontina Valdostana, the most famous cheese of the area. Sleep in Aosta.

DAY 11 - September 11 - Tuesday: Verres and Prosciutto producer

This morning, you will absorb the important Roman past of Aosta before visiting the imposing Verres fortification and also visit and sample the local cured hams and salami at a very interesting local producer. You’ll sample traditional food and sweets as well. Tonight, we’ll have our farewell dinner and indulge in the exquisite cuisine of the valley. Urban hiking today, with about 4 miles 1/2 of walking. Sleep in Aosta.

DAY 12 - September 12 - Wednesday: Departure

This morning, we’ll have an early departure for Turin airport where you’ll catch your flight back home. Please make sure not to schedule a flight before 11:00am. Or, you may extend your trip in the Piedmont region.



INFORMATION


Trip Details:
2 nights in Annecy
4 nights in Chamonix
3 nights in Cogne
2 nights in Aosta
Tot: 11 nights – 12 days

Price:
$4,680 per person, in double room – min 12 people – max 15
Supplement to operate the trip with a smaller group:
$200 with 10 and 11 people – $550 with 8 and 9 people
$750 single supplement

What is included in the trip

  • Accommodation in carefully selected, centrally located and well appointed hotels
  • All group transportation in a deluxe air-conditioned private bus
  • All breakfasts and 1 main meal per day, including wine
  • Tastings and visits as per itinerary
  • Entrance fee to castles and attractions as per itinerary
  • Cable rides as per itinerary
  • Arrival and departure airport transfer
  • The services of a professional tour leader (Alessandra) and professional guides

What is not included

  • International airfare from and to the Switzerland and Italy
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Travel and Cancellation insurance (please ask us for a quote or more info)

MORE INFO