Starting from Vézelay, the route crosses the Morvan, the Clunisois ( via Taizé), the heights of Beaujolais, the Dombes ( via Ars), then joins the Chartreuse, Belledonne and the Maurienne valley. After passing the Mont-Cenis pass, it travels through Piedmont and Lombardy south of Turin, then Liguria up to La Spezia. Finally, it reaches Assisi through the magnificent landscapes of Tuscany and Umbria. The path from Vézelay to Assisi covers around 1500 km (650 in France, 850 in Italy), and it takes around 70 days to complete it in its entirety. The choice of the initiators was to favor trails in the countryside and, consequently, to avoid large towns. This path is therefore open to pilgrims and all hikers who are satisfied with accommodation and equipment conditions that are sometimes still rare and sometimes rudimentary. However, you must approach it in good physical shape, as it has many elevation changes.
Since 2005, the entire route has been signposted. All along the path, the pilgrim will find the logo of the Chemins d’Assise association: the Franciscan tau, surmounted by a dove which indicates the route to take (right, left, straight ahead). In addition to this logo, the paths benefit from local markings: – In France – GR (long-distance hiking trail), GRP (long-distance country hiking trail) and PR (short-distance hiking trail); four sections common with the paths of Saint-Jacques (first stage from Vézelay, for a few kilometers; on the way from Strasbourg to Puy, two stages between Saint-Gengoux-le-National and Cluny, and between Cluny and Tramayes; on the route from Geneva to Puy, a stage from Yenne to Saint-Maurice-de-Rorherens). – in Italy – sections shared with the following routes: Alta Via de Liguria (red and white markings, approximately 150 km), from Campo Ligure to Aulla; Via Francigena (marking with a small yellow pilgrim, carrying a backpack), in Tuscany.
It is advisable not to leave too early in the year, as it will be difficult to cross the Alps before the end of May. It is also advisable not to walk in Italy in July, which is the hottest month. A suggestion: starting from Vézelay on the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene (July 22), with an average of 20 km per day, you can arrive in Assisi for the feast of Saint Francis (October 4). We thus pass the Alps around August 15, and we arrive in Italy the second half of August, where it generally begins to get cooler. Another possibility: leave Vézelay around April 15 to arrive in Assisi at the end of June. It is therefore preferable to bring high-top shoes and a walking stick. You also need to protect yourself against both rain and sun.
Supply rarely poses a problem, except in a few particularly isolated places (Morvan in France, mountainous areas in Italy), where it is possible not to find a grocery store for two consecutive days. For these stages, it is therefore better to plan a few meals in advance.