Tuesday 10 September 2013

Day 1 From Martigny to Orsieres 19 km

Tuesday 10th September, 2013
Day one of our Via Francigena Cammino!

http://www.wanderland.ch/en/routes/etappe-01034.html map and route description

 We left Martigny about 10 after Patrick had to go back to phone shop to get the SIM card he bought activated for data so we can check the GPS waypoints and hopefully not get lost! 

We found the markers, for the VF it's also named trail number 70 for this section, and headed towards the  Roman amphitheater, we decided not to go into the Saint Bernard museum, cost 12 swiss francs each, as the dogs should also still be up at the Hospice at the Grand St Bernard Pass.

I was worried were were lost at the beginning of the track after leaving the Martigny, as there wasnt any markers for a while, and the track is also an excersize trail...  however, lucky when we checked with the GPS on Patrick's mobile, we were on the correct trail. 
At about 12 stopped at  Bovernier a tiny village - looking for a coffee and snack, stopped and a lady if there was a cafe? She says no, and then asks us to come in for a coffee!    we chatted as best we could with Marinette, us with no French and Marinette with no English! As we were leaving, did the Swiss kiss goodbye, she explained that the Swiss kiss cheeks 3 times- left, right, left, the French kiss twice.
The VF took us  up and down, through pretty, mossy forests and fields. My feet are feeling OK, but a bit tired.

Stopped for a late lunch, 2:50 pm at Sembrancher. Gorgeous village with amazing old buildings of timber and stone.
Had a light lunch in an Italian cafe of coffee, prosciutto and fungi pizza. Pizza delicious, fresh cooked, thin crust.

Walking on to Orsieres, we walked up, up, up... through meadows, forest, over clear mountain streams... very beautiful. The trail here is called the Napoleon way
Every hour or so we could hear the whistle of the Saint Bernard express in the distance - we could have caught this iconic train and been at the top of the pass in an hour, rather than 3 days of walking! But we would have missed all the beautiful scenery, architecture and the deep "dong dong" bells of the cows, and the higher pitched "ding ding" of the sheep bells.

http://youtu.be/Xib3i0sjPX4  The Melodic cow bells

Shortly before Orsiers we walked up a steep switch back track with timber carvings of the stations of the cross. 
 Walking down the track into Orsieres we saw the Cathedral and a timber covered bridge!

At Orsiers we went to the Cathedral to try and find someone to stamp our credenzia, luckily we met Linna, also a pilgrim walking the VF from Germany, she showed us the way behind the cathedral to the VF accommodation and introduced us to the priest who stamped our credenza - pilgrims passport. 

At the accommodation, we met 3 other pilgrims, Tom and Yvonne an older couple from the US who are cycling the VF and Chris  from Germany. We were able to chat with everyone and get some useful accommodation tips - Lina is going backwards along this section of the VF and Tom and Yvette have already walked most of the Italian section of the VF. 

We decided to go out and experience a real Swiss fondue tonight! I also had a glass of local red, which was delicious! Don't know that I need to have a fondue again... very strong cheese with just bread to dip into the pot. Feel like I need a big serve of veges tomorrow.

We were back to the pilgrim accommodation by 8:30 and settled on our mattresses on the floor by 9pm... tired pilgrims!

Accommodation - Orsieres:
at the parish accommodation, mattress on the floor



  1. Wouldn't want to walk behind you two after a fondue!!!

  2. do you pack your own sheets, sleeping bag for your night in Orsieres?

    1. We packed a very light sleeping bag and silk sleeping bag liner. We needed these at most of the pilgrim accommodation.

  3. Thinking of starting the VF in July 2018. Reading your blog for useful information.

    1. Thanks, I hope you find the blog useful. It's a wonderful pilgrimage walk! We continued the walk last year from Rome to Brindisi.

  4. We got as far as Reims in 2018. Starting again on 2 April 2019 with aim of getting over the Gt Sr Bernard Pass this year.