The former «Stagecoach Road» built in the mid-19th century leads through a dramatic landscape of gorges and forests, linking historical resorts that pioneered alpine tourism. Delightful family walk.
The Vallée du Trient was one of the first regions in the Swiss Alps to attract foreign tourists – thanks to the Route des Diligences («Stagecoach Road»), built between 1855 and 1861. The valley soon became internationally famous because of its scenic beauty and elegant resorts such as Finhaut, which has retained its magnificent Belle Epoque hotels.
The track, with its 51 hairpin turns, now offers a delightful family walk. The trail roughly follows the route of the narrow-gauge Mont-Blanc Express, built from 1902 to 1906 – so tailoring the perfect outing is easy.
Highlights of the itinerary include dramatic views of deep gorges – especially in the upper valley, inaccessible to cars – and Le Trétien, a village of national architectural importance thanks to its historical wooden buildings and twisting lanes.
Families will enjoy stopping at Les Marécottes to visit the highest-altitude zoo in Europe, home to black bears, wolves, lynx, marmots, chamois, ibex and many other alpine animals. The adjacent natural swimming pool in the rock, 70 metres long, reaches temperatures of 24-27 degrees in summer, heated by the sun.
Further along the route in Salvan, a small museum commemorates a pioneering visit by a prestigious guest: Guglielmo Marconi. During an extended stay in summer 1895, he managed to send a message using electromagnetic radiation over a distance of more than 1 kilometre: wireless was born.
The route as a whole forms part of the ViaCook, a cultural itinerary that traces the very first group tour through Switzerland, organised by the British package holiday pioneer Thomas Cook in 1863.
Plan a stop at the Marécottes Zoo and the beautiful swimming pool right next door. The zoo is home to numerous animals native to the Alps.
Use of the trails and the information on this website is at hikers’ own risk. Local conditions may entail changes to routes. Valais/Wallis Promotion accepts no liability for the accuracy and completeness of information on this website.
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More information about the destination:
To drive to start of walk:
A9 motorway, exit 22 (Gd St-Bernard), follow signs for Chamonix (France). Continue over pass of Col de la Forclaz, drop down to Trient, but before French border look out for turning right towards Finhaut-Emosson. At end of walk, take train from Vernayaz (Mont-Blanc Express) back to Finhaut.
For most motorists, it will be more practical to park at the end of the walk, travel to the start by train (Mont-Blanc Express), and walk back to the car.
To drive to end of walk: A9 motorway, exit 20 (St-Maurice) if driving from the north or exit 21 (Martigny-Fully) if approaching from the east. In either case, follow signs for Vernayaz.
Finhaut: no official parking, but sufficient places in the vicinity.
Vernayaz: by railway station (Mont-Blanc Express).