Distance: 19.3 km – Elevation +100 m -50 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 31 degrees
We were met this morning by the same regular canon and he escorted us to the dining room within the Abbey quarters. We shared breakfast in silence with the other canons and brothers of the Abbey. Staying at the Abbey was for me a special moment in my pilgrimage, in the first instance it reminded me of my uncle Maurice who had died in France during the second world war, and secondly, the Abbey had been providing shelter for pilgrims for over 1000 years, and it was also close the midpoint of my pilgrimage to Rome.
Our journey today was to take us to Martigny where we will begin the climb to the Great Saint Bernard Pass. It is just 17 kilometres through the Rhone Valley close to the river itself. It was an early start with breakfast at 7.00 am and it was just past 7.30 am as we headed out of Saint Maurice. Interestingly the directional signs here are stated in time and not distance and the first sign we came to stated Martigny 3h 45 min. The trail took us through the Reservoir du Bois Noir close to Lavey-Les Bains and on to the impressive Hydroelectric scheme just past Lavey. The way through Evionnaz and Vernayaz was spectacularly beautiful with trees lining the river and the mountains in the distance. The path from Vernayaz took us briefly through woodland before joining the river again. The valley was becoming narrower the further we got to Martigny with rocky escarpments closer to the river. This was another special day on my way to Rome.
We reached the outskirts of Martigny close to noon and stopped for a packed lunch before proceeding to our final destination of the day – the Hotel Alpes & Rhone.