Saint-Pierre – Morgex / San Carlo Pass – La Thuille

This is an excerpt from the book “Aosta Valley Itineraries”.

Saint-Pierre Castle - Photo © anbri22
Saint-Pierre Castle – Photo © anbri22

Once Aosta has been passed, driving towards the high Valley, after 8km besides the castle of Sarre (see itinerary) you will meet Saint-Pierre, famous for its two castles one dating back to the 11th-13th centuries and heavily restored, today seat of the Regional Museum of Natural Sciences (open to the public from April to September); the other one Sarriod de la Tour was recently restored but can be seen only from the outside .

As if straight out of a fairy tale, the castle of Saint-Pierre is completely unlike any other in the valley.

Taken together with the church directly below, with its beautiful Romanesque bell-tower, it forms a very picturesque whole. Since 1975, it has been the home of a Natural History Museum.

The museum is divided in nine halls, where the environment of Valle d’Aosta is shown to the visitor in its different aspects: mineralogy, geology, climate and glaciers, osteologic collection of Gran Paradiso National Park (ibexes), local flora and vegetation (woods, shrubs, meadows, etc…), reconstruction of four typical Valle d’Aosta environments; birds, large and small mammals and insects.

Morgex
Morgex Photo © ede0253

In the village of Saint-Pierre you can also visit the “Pain de Coucou” regional center for handicraft and typical products and “La Grolla”, a wood carving center.

Following the main road you reach Morgex where there are the highest vineyards in Europe for the production of the tasty white wine “Blanc de Morgex”. In the area some remains of medieval castles or towers can also be seen.

From Morgex on the left you can take the road leading to the San Carlo Pass (1960m).

You can stop at the hotel Genzianella and take the track just beyond the hotel and after a 5 minutes walk you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Mont Blanc and its chain.

The road through the San Carlo Pass leads to La Thuile, a popular summer and winter resort, starting point of many excursions to the Ruitor glacier, the Ruitor waterfalls and some wonderful mountain lakes.

The road continues across the Little Saint Bernard Pass to France; this pass has always been used first by Gauls then by Romans as an easy way of communication. Just on the border you can see the remains of a prehistoric cromlech, a 44 stone ellipse that dates back to the Bronze Age and indicates a sacred meeting point.

Piccolo san Bernardo
Piccolo san Bernardo – Photo © barbaradel

The other historical point in the area is represented by the Little Saint Bernard Hospice, founded in the 11th century by Saint Bernard, repeatedly destroyed by the wars or the fire and rebuilt, it was then abandoned during the 2nd World War. It was then rebuilt in 1993. On the first floor you can visit the Museum of the history of the Pass, of the area and of the French Savoy region. (open in July and August)

Just beside the border there is the “Chanousia” botanic garden, founded in 1879 and recently re-opened (open to the public during the summer season). You can admire nearly 1600 different plant species and visit a little museum.

Where to stay in Saint Pierre

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Morgex

There are high quality hotels, apartments and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in La Thuile

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.