The gateway to Italy, the village of Bourg-St-Pierre is bursting with history and charm, from its ancient buildings to its newly restored mill and the legacies left by former travellers. History and legend sit side by side within its walls, recalling the bygone eras of Hannibal, the troops of the Roman Empire, those of Napoleon, the passage of millions of pilgrims, travellers, traders... the whole world has travelled the St. Bernard’s Pass. The village today retains these fragments of history and continues to extend a warm welcome to all its visitors.
In addition to the wide range of hiking options, Bourg-St-Pierre offers the possibility to try out a sport unique to Switzerland – rap jumping – which entails taking an airborne glide down the side of the Toules dam in a delta wing harness: (www.nolimitscanyon.ch). You can also enjoy mountain biking, canyoning, rock climbing and numerous other activities.
The Via Francigena is a cultural route and ancient pilgrimage path to Rome. It was made famous by Archbishop Sigéric who kept a detailed record of his journey along this road. Today it is popular for a different kind of trek. The hospice, higher up on the Grand Saint Bernard Pass, is both a monument and a place of welcome and comfort. Over a thousand years ago, Saint Bernard of Menthon prepared the way for what was to become an imposing building of great importance to many travellers. Succour and comfort were the first duties of the canons for centuries and they were aided by the famous Saint Bernard dogs, which contributed to the renown and status of the hospice. Barry was the most famous of the dogs, having saved the lives of numerous people, but they all fulfilled their duties on a daily basis, clearing the paths for the canons and the guides, in all weathers and all conditions.
The hospice today has evolved, and the route and the Saint Bernard tunnel have changed the conditions of passage for travellers. Nevertheless, the canons of Saint Bernard continue their tradition of aid and comfort for walkers, pilgrims and those seeking spiritual support. Must see visits: the museum, treasure house and kennels (when the Pass is open – June to October)
A small, high-altitude resort, its main attraction is a magnificent route over Italy, offering a truly amazing day’s walking. A snow garden and ski school complete the offer. A fantastic location for winter walking (with a guide), the Pass and its environs will not fail to enchant visitors. And make sure you take the opportunity to spend the night at the legendary hospice. Snowshoe trails starting from the centre of the village offer completely safe trekking in the heart of local nature. The regional network is the largest in Switzerland.