There are many ways of travelling to Breuil-Cervinia, the ski-resort at the foot of Monte Cervino (known in Switzerland as the Matterhorn). This page is about travelling from London via Chatillon at the foot of Valtournenche, the valley that climbs northward to Monte Cervino and the Monte Rosa massif. In this valley some of the residents understand English - especially taxi-drivers and guides; many/most of the residents speak French as a second language.
The easiest/cheapest way to get to Cervinia from London is to fly to Milan or Turin, take the train from there to Chatillon, and take the bus from Chatillon to Cervinia. These are my approximate timings:
Leave London at dawn and get to Cervinia in the early evening, making several connections on the way. There's some room for error in the schedule but the last bus from Chatillon to Cervinia leaves Chatillon Railway Station at 20.20. If you miss the last bus you can get a taxi but it's a 28km ride and you'll probably have to pay for the round trip.
The timetable shows the option of getting off the bus halfway up the valley at the village of Maen, where you will find Camping Glair, the nearest authorised campsite to Cervinia (12km away). The Chatillon-Cervinia bus, which runs through Maen, is cheap and fairly reliably timetabled. It runs approximately every 90mins; Maen-Cervinia takes about 30mins.
is a very pleasant, well-appointed campsite. In summer lots of Italian families spend most of the school holidays there, which makes for a peaceful, villagey atmosphere. The management are friendly and helpful.
There is no bar or shop at the campsite but 10mins walk away in Maen there is a nice bar and a good food shop with pizza bar. Shop closing-time is 20.00.
The small ski-resort of Valtournenche is 1.5km up the valley from Maen. It has restaurants, swimming pool, library (with a small English holiday-reading section) and shops including supermarket, bakery, greengrocer, bookshop, ski & climbing, pharmacy, ironmonger.
There is no authorised campsite in Cervinia. There is a carpark for camper vans on the main road about 2km south of the town centre. The carpark has a drinking-water tap and a sluice for chemical-waste disposal but no facilities for camping.
I have camped on the grass verges of the carpark a few times. The police moved me off the site once -- camping is against the by-laws of Cervinia. A friend told me that he camped there a few years ago and was charged fees by a man who said that he was the manager; perhaps he was. The carpark is surrounded by woodland where wild camping is possible, I imagine.
I have been told that camping is permitted anywhere above the 2500m contour (subject to the landowner's consent). There's plenty of land and plenty of streams up there but cattle and wild goats graze up to the 3200m level, so you should sterilise your drinking water. In addition, the large animals will trample your tent; the small animals (foxes and marmots) will steal your food; the tourists will laugh at you and the guides will treat you with contempt.
People often camp next to Rifugio l'Orionde (alt.2900m; on the path to Cervino), where there are flat grassy areas. This is an excellent advanced base camp but the shops are a 5-hour round-trip walk away. The Rifugio closed for years for refurbishment but re-opened as a residence and restaurant in 2012. Check its availability with the Tourist Office or the Hotel Maquignaz in Cervinia. The Maquignaz used to operate the Rifugio and ran a (pricey) summertime Land-Rover bus service to it.
Breuil-Cervinia is at the head of the road that runs up the Valtournenche valley. At the foot of the valley, 29km away, is Chatillon-St.Vincent in Valle d'Aosta. The autoroute and the railway line run along Valle d'Aosta -- it's the main highway through the Italian Alps.
You can drive to Valle D'Aosta from the Channel ports by a variety of routes:
1. Over the Grand St. Bernard Pass from Switzerland.
Calais-Aosta via G.St.B.=905km (9.5 hours).
You might need a Swiss autoroute pass. The Grand St. Bernard Pass is a spectacular high-altitude route; it is subject to extreme weather and is not guaranteed to be passable. There is a toll-road option (motorway and tunnel, €40 return) halfway up the Pass.
2. Over the Petit St. Bernard Pass from France.
Calais-Aosta via P.St.B.=1053km (10.5hr).
The Petit St. Bernard Pass is a medium-altitude route; it is subject to extreme weather and is not guaranteed to be passable.
Going to Valle D'Aosta by the Petit St Bernard is going around the corner of the Alps; this costs more in fuel and time but avoids the costs of Swiss Vignette and/or tunnel tolls.
3. Through the Chamonix Mont Blanc Tunnel from France.
Calais-Aosta via Tunnel=946km (9 hours).
This is direct and fast. (Tunnel Toll €51 return). It saves time, fuel and the wear-and-tear of driving over Alpine passes.
I have driven from London to Cervinia a couple of times and cycled once.
The cycling took me a week and was a holiday in itself; a friend took my climbing gear from London to Cervinia for me. The Grand St Bernard Pass was excellent and not too difficult (to my surprise). I left Martigny, Switzerland, at 7am and arrived in Aosta, Italy, around 3pm. 80km with 2000m ascent.
Driving from Britain to Cervinia in one go is hard work, especially if you're the sole driver and you don't want to make a proper overnight stop on the way.
In 2012 I left London in the early evening and boarded the Eurotunnel train at Folkestone around 10pm. From the Calais terminus I drove south for a couple of hours then stopped in a service area for a few hours sleep in the car (a rug and a pillow make this almost comfortable). The rest of the day was spent cruising gently southeast on the excellent autoroutes, stopping en route for a nap or two, and arriving at the Chamonix Tunnel late in the afternoon. I arrived at Chatillon in the early evening and pitched the tent at Camping Glair around 9pm. That's more than 24 hours of travelling without much sleep.
You might do the journey non-stop in, say, 16 hours instead of 24 hours. Just how alert would you be for most of those hours? How safe would you and your fellow road-users be? You and your car will do a lot of work to get to Cervinia, where you won't use the car very much anyway.
VITA run the bus service from Chatillon Station to Cervinia. There are about eight buses per day between Chatillon and Cervinia; the scenic journey takes an hour, with many stops en route.
There is a bus station in the centre of Chatillon (about 1km from the railway station); all bus routes go through this bus station -- up the valley to Cervinia or along the Val d'Aosta to France and Switzerland in one direction and to Turin and Milan in the other direction.
Just to be clear:
1. If you come to Chatillon by train from Milan or Turin you catch the bus to Cervinia at Chatillon Railway Station.
2. If you come to Chatillon by coach from Milan or Turin you will arrive at Chatillon Bus Station. You will probably have to change here to the local bus to Cervinia. Some coaches from Milan/Turin go direct to Valtournenche and Breuil-Cervinia; they stop at Chatillon Bus Station on their way. This may be a ski-season service only; I'm never sure from year to year.
The Italian airports closest to Breuil-Cervinia are Torino-Caselle (ca.100km), Milano-Linate (ca.180km) and Milano-Malpensa (ca.150km).
easyJet fly from London Luton and London Gatwick to Milano Linate and Milano Malpensa, and sometimes to Torino-Caselle.
RyanAir fly from Luton and Stansted to Torino-Caselle and Milano Bergamo.
The main coach station in Milan is
Via Giulio Natta.
Coaches to Chatillon are operated by Savda
The main railway station in Milan is
Stazione di Milano Centrale
Piazza Duca d'Aosta.
For timetables and tickets see Trenitalia
An important interchange station in Milan is
Stazione di Milano Cadorna/
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