Day53 Grand Saint Bernard to Etchevannoz – Coming off a High aka Buongiorno!

Day53 Morning Uodate

Tough night last night since both Allison and I were having GI issues. At breakfast others also mentioned issues. So either the food or altitude or combination of the two caused some problems.

Bowls of Coffee

We went to a special Pilgrim blessing service at 7:15am but didn’t get much out of it I’m afraid. Then it was off to a toast and coffee breakfast. The coffee was good and something warm in the belly helped a bit.


After breakfast we packed up and headed out for the short (about 50m) walk to the Swiss/Italian border. Just past the border we took photos at the St Bernard statue before starting the multi-day downhill hike. It was cold 6C and we put on our cold-weather gear. Ten minutes later it was back off as we began walking and also were exposed to some sun.

The views were spectacular and a small wave of depression came over me to know we were beginning the journey away from their majesty. I really would rather not leave. But many Italian joys await.

Today was going to be a long painful downhill day but we’ve decided to cut it in half at the recommendation of many who have gone before us. This will use up one of our spare days, but that’s what they are for.

The tops of the mountains were mostly shrouded in cloud, but they were intermittently brought into view when a cloud broke. The snow on some of them sparkled and the rock faces of others looked strong and bold.


The decline started out steep and rocky and then changed to outright cruel but less rocky. By the time we hit St Rhemy en Bosses my knees were pretty sore but the trail just got steeper. Finally, we leveled out a bit and we got a reprieve into the town of St Oyen. All of these little villages are little more than 3sqkm in size but each played a role in either guarding the valley pass or serving as guides and escorts for travelers trading across the Alps.

The villages of St Rhemy and Etroubles for instance were granted exclusive rights by the House of Savoy to act as escorts for a period of time in exchange for hosting the Savoy landlords and their guests for free.

Lampposts Pilgrim welcome in St Rhemy

St Rhemy (Eudracinum in Roman times) also served as a horse trade-off post and a last chance resting place for travelers attempting the Alpine crossing at St Bernard pass.

Just past Etroubles we were forced to walk along a busy road. It wasn’t the most comfortable place to be walking.

But we were soon at the tiny village of Echevennoz, our resting place for the night. We are staying at a L’Abri lodging. I didn’t know much about them. Check out their founding and mission here:

It’s a beautiful little place and we’ll be having dinner at the family trattoria later this evening. But for now, I’m chillin’ in this cool chair.


For dinner we ate with a pilgrim from Switzerland. He speaks excellent English, Italian and French. We had our first Italian meal with pasta, chicken and polenta. Yum. Glad to be here.

Published by

Mark Dowty

"An Intentional Life"

8 thoughts on “Day53 Grand Saint Bernard to Etchevannoz – Coming off a High aka Buongiorno!”

  1. Today, I passed a local company that had St. Bernard puppies as part of their logo on the truck and I immediately thought of you guys on your stay there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Truly spectacular! I did want to tell you to come away from the edge just a bit. That looked like quite a drop!

    I hope all the stomach issues have resolved.

    I think I would have enjoyed the down hill part but I am sure after a few hours of it my knees would hurt as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All better. First Italian dinner took care of that. Yum! Making our way to Aosta today. Lazy day. Short walk with lots of breaks to soak it in.
      This too will end soon unfortunately.


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