Walking in the French & Swiss Alps Trip Notes

Walk the French and Swiss Alps on a hiking tour. See chateaux, glaciers and the mighty Matterhorn mountain on this adventure. Trek through Chamonix, Montenvers and Zermatt, discovering the beautiful alpine scenery of France and Switzerland.

    • 8
    • AHXA
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $2,465
      CAD $2,495
      AUD $2,595
      EUR €1,795
      GBP £1,555
      NZD $3,075
      ZAR R23,620
      CHF FR2,225
      *
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    • Comfort
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There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. View later Walking in the French & Swiss Alps.
Print Version
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2014
Walking in the French & Swiss Alps
Trip code: AHXA
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Hugging eight European countries, the 1,200-km-stretch of the Alps is a year-round playground for adventure seekers and R&R experts alike. Whether you stroll, hike or saunter around this incredible landscape, prepare yourself for incredibly picturesque views that must be seen to be believed. Ambling through quaint towns, navigating sleek glaciers and gaping at the haunting mountains of this region, you might just feel like you’ve entered a scene from a postcard that never ends. With a banquet of snow and adventure sports on offer, boutique shopping to be done and a hot chocolate always on the boil, the Alps are home to a distinctive and unbeatable cultural identity.
This trip is run by our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Intrepid passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
MapImportant notesVisas
ItineraryGroup sizeIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseYour fellow travellersWhat to take
We also recommendSingle travellersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationSafety
Culture shock rating Meals introductionTravel insurance
Physical ratingMealsResponsible Travel
Included activitiesTransportA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingEmergency contact
Style
Comfort
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Map
Walking in the French & Swiss Alps
Itinerary
Day 1 Chamonix
Bonjour! Welcome to France.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Chamonix is a charming old mountain town that lies right at the foot of Mont Blanc (4807 m) - the highest mountain in Western Europe. No activities are planned so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the joining hotel (details are in your travel documents), which is centrally located right in the heart of town. Chamonix has been a climbing and skiing centre for over 100 years and is considered the mountaineering capital of Europe. It has a wonderful atmosphere and a well-preserved Old Town, with cobbled streets full of lively sidewalk cafes.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Chamonix Valley
Today we take a short transfer to the head of the valley (1350m). Our aim is to reach Aiguillettes des Possettes (2180m). It looks like a long climb with the altitude, but the path is a steady and well-graded trail that rises out of the valley under the shade of alpine forests.
As we climb further up and above the tree line, our view down the valley towards Mont Blanc opens out is spectacular. From Aiguillettes des Possettes, a small peak where we can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of the Alps.
Our decent to Vallorcine (1260 m) is on a wide and easy trail. From there we are transferred a short distance back to Chamonix. (Walking distance: 10 km)
Included Activities
  • Aiguillettes des Possettes walk
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 The Classic Grand Balcon Sud - Chamonix
Today’s plan is to see the best that the valley has to offer.
As part of our tour we have included a two-day full pass of the area that allows us unlimited access to the ski lift network. This pass to give us access to two shorter walks.
This morning we set off on one of the best walks in Chamonix Valley. We ascend by cable car to Plan Praz (2000 m), where we follow the balcony path with views of soaring peaks, glaciated summits, cliff faces and needle sharp spires. (Walking distance: 9km)
Included Activities
  • Plan Praz walk
  • Day lift pass
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Montenvers - Chamonix
Today we have a free day to soak up the buzz of Chamonix life or hop aboard the historic Montenvers cog railway and ascend to Montenvers (1630m), a mid-level viewing station over the Mer de Glace Glacier. From here you can actually go inside the glacier and view up-close this mammoth river of ice.
From here you can either descend back to the valley floor by the clog railway or walk an undulating 6k path to the mid station for here, travel by cable car to 3842m for a great view of the glaciers before jumping back on the cable car to travel back into the valley.
Included Activities
  • Day lift pass
Optional Activities
  • Montenvers Cog Railway - EUR27
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Sion - Zermatt
Today is a relaxing day and a chance to rest our legs. Our private coach picks us up in the morning and takes us on a very scenic trip through the valleys into Switzerland. We stop en route in Sion, a charming Swiss town with alleyways that wind through a medieval quarter and an 11th century and 13th century château. After a short visit to Sion, we continue on to Zermatt (1630 m) and the second iconic mountain of the Alps - the Matterhorn.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 6 Zermatt Valley
Today we walk up and out of Zermatt and make our way through the old hamlets that were once upon a time the summer farms of the region. Our path gently climbs through the meadows and then under the north face of the Matterhorn. As the forests become thinner our trail turns on its heal and we cross the glacier river at 2220 metres before heading back towards Zermatt on the northern side of the valley, passing through a final hamlet called Zmutt, which is renowned for making great cheese. (Walking distance 13 km)
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Zermatt
This morning we start the day following a specilally constraucted walk way that clings to the walls for Gorner Gorge caused by a powerful post ice age melt. Once out of the gorge we walk past old hamlets and if possible we follow a path through the meadows under the north face of the Matterhorn. We then cross a glacier river a 2220m before heading back down towards Zermatt.
This afternoon is free to relax or make your own discoveries in the Zermatt Valley.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Today is a free day in the Zermatt Valley to make your own discoveries. There are a number of attractions of offer in the valley and your tour leader will be at hand to offer advice on the various options available to you. Alternatively, a half-day walk with views of the Matterhorn can be arranged
Included Activities
  • Gorner Gorge
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
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    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Money Exchange
    The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
    The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
    You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
    When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
    Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
    You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
    For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
    Swiss Francs are not essential on this trip but can be useful.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest €1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers.
    Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €2-€4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
    Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    OUR LOCAL PARTNER:
    This trip is operated by Peregrine Adventures and you will be joined by other like minded Intrepid and non Intrepid travellers. Single travellers will share accommodation with another traveller of the same sex.
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (7 nts)
    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
    TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
    Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
    CHECK-IN TIME
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
    PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    7 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 2 Dinners
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    EUR 525.00
    Transport
    Cable car, Private vehicle
    Joining point
    Park Hotel Suisse
    75 Allée du Majestic,
    Chamonix
    74400
    FRANCE
    Phone: +33 450 530758
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    Hotel Jagerhof
    Steinmattstrasse
    Zermatt
    85 3920
    SWITZERLAND
    Phone: +41 279663800
    Emergency contact
    In the case of genuine crisis or emergency please call our partner High Trails on their 24 hour emergency number
    Tel: +41 79 489 5614
    For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ON THIS TRIP (EXCLUDING RUSSIA, UKRAINE, TURKEY):
    Australia: No - Not required
    Belgium: No - Not required
    Canada: No - Not required
    Germany: No - Not required
    Ireland: No - Not required
    Netherlands: No - Not required
    New Zealand: No - Not required
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: No - Not required
    UK: No - Not required
    USA: No - Not required
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    EUROPE:
    On this trip, you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    Safety
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 270.00 kgs per pax.
    Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.