Length: 340km
Altitude difference: ↑ 4740m ↓ 4770m
Duration: 14 days

GPS track

The Waldensian Exile Route, which is 340 km long (115 in Italy, 215 in France, 10 in Switzerland), follows the route taken by one of the thirteen columns of about 3,000 Waldensians exiled from Piedmont in 1687, who were held in Piedmontese prisons and then forced to march to Geneva. The itinerary starts from Saluzzo in Italy , one of the places where the Waldensians were imprisoned, and crosses the Piedmontese plain on roads and cycle paths, arriving in Avigliana. Going up the old Royal Road in the Susa Valley, it reaches the Moncenisio Pass. From here, across the Maurienne, you arrive at Annecy and then Geneva.

At the moment, the route, which is all on roads that can be covered on foot or by bicycle, is alternately equipped with signs. A guidebook and roadbook (only for the Italian part of the itinerary) have been published to provide information and advice, as well as maps to make the journey easier.

The crossing of the Moncenisio pass (above 2,000 m) reduces the window of time available each year in which it’s safe to cross the pass – the summer months are the olny feasible moment. Usually the pass is open from mid May, but we advise you to check before attempting at that time. June and September are definitely the best months to make the crossing, as it isn’t too hot. Some stages should not be contemplated in July and August as the blistering heat is not to be underestimated.

This is a hiking route that does not present any particular technical difficulties apart from the length and altitude difference of some of the stages. It is therefore intended for people in good physical health, who are used to walking for a few hours a day, and for several consecutive days in a row, with a rucksack on their shoulders. Although it’s true that part of the training can be done on the road, it should be borne in mind that the first stage is already long enough, and it would be best not to try to cover too much ground too quickly (so as not to ruin your feet and the next few days’ walking). The greatest fatigue and difficulties will be encountered during the crossing of the Moncenisio pass and the subsequent descent to Modane.

We recommend that you buy the official, “Exile” guidebook, which is the best tool for covering the route without too many difficulties (although unfortunately it isn’t available in English).
In some cases, having a GPS with you can be very useful. However, it’s necessary to know how to use it, and to load the full route in advance. However, it would be necessary to know how to use it, and to load the full track of the route in advance.

– Backpack: this should have a maximum capacity of 65 l for men, 55 l for women (for whom specific backpacks are commercially available), and weigh between 8 and 10 kg
– Hiking boots
– Hiking poles: these help to transfer weight from the legs to the arms and are a useful safety feature during steep descents.
– Lightweight shoes or sandals for resting and on tarmac sections
– Trekking socks (2 or 3 pairs)
– Underwear (2 or 3 pairs)
– Costume (you will meet Annecy and Geneva lake)
– Long and short hiking trousers
– Lightweight rest trousers
– 2 Technical t-shirts for walking, made of breathable fibres: the best are made of merino wool
– Cotton T-shirt for the evening and for sleeping
– Fleece sweater
– Mountain windbreaker
– Backpack cover
– Sheet bag (sleeping bag is superfluous because blankets are always available)
– Towel (preferably microfibre)
– Marseille soap for washing up and washing clothes
– Toothbrush and toothpaste
– Blister plasters (recommended for those with sensitive feet)
– First aid kit (trekking kit, therefore light)
– Toilet paper
– Sunglasses, hat and sun cream
– Litre water bottle
– Utility knife with cutlery
– Walking guide
– GPS with charger (optional)
– Wallet with money, debit and credit cards, documents
– Mobile phone and power supply

Unfortunately, only exceptionally can cheap accommodation facilities be available. The average daily cost for one person is about €65 – €75, including an overnight stay and dinner in budget hotels, B&Bs, hostels, with half board, and packed lunch by buying food in shops. To significantly reduce costs, you can make the journey by bringing a tent. However, it must be considered that this equipment increases the weight of the backpack by a few kilos and involves some problems. Only in some stages is it possible to have a campsite, while in the majority of cases it is necessary to find a suitable place for free camping. In these cases, common sense is needed, asking the landlords, where possible, whether a one-night stop with a tent is accepted or not.

Length: 27km
Altitude difference: ↑ 25m ↓ 170m
Duration: 7 hours
Difficult: medium

Download GPS track

This stage runs entirely along the plains. On foot the main difficulty may be the distance.
It starts from the Castiglia prison, in the upper part of the historic centre of Saluzzo. The route crosses the pretty town and leads out into the open countryside on quiet tarmac roads with little traffic. After 20 km of flat road, passing through the small hamlets of Cervignasco and Brasse and a nice stretch of dirt road in the Po Cuneese Park, you reach Villafranca Piemonte, a town that is well worth a visit. From Villafranca Piemonte the route continues along the lovely cycle path that follows the former Saluzzo-Airasca railway line, which was decommissioned in 1986. A 7 km ride through open countryside leads to the historic centre of Vigone.

Length: 20km
Altitude difference: ↑ 110m ↓ 45m
Duration: 5 hours
Difficult: easy

Download GPS track

From Vigone, continue as far as Airasca on the pretty cycle path built along the Saluzzo-Airasca railway line decommissioned in 1986. The path, which is asphalted in some places and surfaced with crushed stone in others, passes by the villages of Cercenasco and Scalenghe. At Airasca the route continues to Piossasco along a quiet country road with little traffic, as access by car is reserved for residents. The country road, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Cottian Alps, passes through the places where the battle of Marsaglia (4th October, 1693) was fought.

Length: 19,5km
Altitude difference: ↑ 250m ↓ 190m
Duration: 5:30 hours
Difficult: medium

Download GPS track

This stage starts from Piazza San Vito in the historic centre of Piossasco. The route crosses the narrow streets and descends to a quiet dirt road at the foot of the pine forest running along the bottom of Monte San Giorgio. After passing the town of Sangano you reach Trana. From Trana you do not follow the busy SS 589 road, but instead take a nice stretch of dirt road along the Sangone river. You pass the hamlets of Udritto, Cordero and San Bartolomeo coming close to Lago Piccolo, then skirting Lago Grande to finally reach the lovely historic centre of Avigliana.

Length: 25km
Altitude difference: ↑ 160m ↓ 110m
Duration: 6:30 hours
Difficult: medium

Download GPS track

This stage is mostly flat, and on foot the only difficulty may be long distances involved.
Starting from the historical centre of Avigliana, the route continues towards an industrial area to reach the town of Sant’Ambrogio di Torino, at the foot of the splendid Sacra di San Michele which dominates the landscape from the top of Mount Pirchiriano (962 m). Continue past Chiusa San Michele; Vaie; Sant’Antonino di Susa; Borgone di Susa; San Didero; Bruzolo and the hamlet of Crotte until you reach Bussoleno.
For this entire stage, follow the signs for the “Via Francigena” and “Ciclostrada Valle Susa” routes, which are always well signposted.

Length: 18km
Altitude difference: ↑ 430m ↓ 40m
Duration: 5 hours
Difficult: easy

Download GPS track

Leaving the municipality of Bussoleno, you pass the hamlet of Foresto and quickly reach the beautiful town of Susa. Here It’s well worth taking a tour of the historic centre. For thousands of years this place has been the crossroads of the various transalpine routes between Italy and France, and is marked by a number of Roman and medieval monuments.
From Susa follow the signs for Venaus and Novalesa. A gentle climb takes you to Venaus and on the SP 210 road to Novalesa.
For this stage too, follow the signs for the “Via Francigena” and the “Ciclostrada Valle Susa”.

Length: 26km
Altitude difference: ↑ 1500m ↓ 870m
Duration: 9 hours
Difficult: very challenging

Download GPS track

This is a very difficult stage, both for the differences in altitude and it’s length. From Novalesa you climb 1,877 metres up to the Grand Croix, and from there you climb again to 2,087 metres and the Moncenisio Pass.
Leave Novalesa following the signs for Moncenisio. During the ascent, for the first few kilometere, it’s possible to cut across the hairpin bends by following the indicated path. Climb steeply for 8 km until you reach the municipality of Moncenisio. From there, continue along the mule track that climbs towards the Col, starting uphill from the village. On reaching the asphalt road, pass the Plaine Saint Nicolas and the hairpin bends of the Grande Scala and arrive at the largely ruined village of Grand Croix, which lies at the foot of the majestic Moncenisio dam. Continue the ascent to the Col passing by the large reservoir and then descend Lansleburg-Mont-Cenis along the steep Chemin de la Ramasse.
Note: hikers on foot have the possibility to split this stage and spend the night on the pass.

Length: 27km
Altitude difference: ↑ 600m ↓ 960m
Duration: 8:30 hours
Difficult: challenging

Download GPS track

This is a long and treacherous stage. There are no major differences in altitude though, and in fact you tend to go down, rather than up, in the grand scheme of things. However, the frequent ups and downs along the way can make the stage quite tiring.
Leave the centre of Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis and head towards the Chemin de Petit Bonheur. This signposted route leads mostly along dirt roads to Modane. Pass the villages of Termignon-la-Vanoise, Sollières-l’Envers, Le Châtel and Le Verney and you finally arrive in Bramans. After passing this typical mountain village, you will skirt the fortress of L’Esseillon, which was built between 1817 and 1834. A few kilometres after crossing a bridge, you reach the La Norma ski resort from which you will descend rapidly towards Modane.

Length: 29km
Altitude difference: ↑ 40m ↓ 530m
Duration: /
Difficult: /

Download GPS track

This stage is the most problematic of the entire route between Saluzzo and Geneva. The main road, the motorway, the railway and some hydroelectric power stations in a stretch where the Arc Valley is very narrow. These make it impossible for walkers to cover the stretch on tracks other than busy roads.
For walkers, this stage can be covered using the train: from Modane where there are frequent services and it doesn’t take long to reach the centre of Sain-Jean-De-Maurienne.