Since antiquity, the pass has seen a large number of travellers!
Already the ancient populations salasses (from the Aosta Valley) and ceutrones (from Tarentaise), at the origin of pastoralism, gathered in this place and would have raised a Cromlech, a curious stone circle 70 m in diameter, straddling the border today.
The Romans built a way there, worshiped Jupiter, erecting a column, surmounted by a statue of the god, they built a first inn: La Mansio. Hannibal and his troops would have crossed this pass.
In the High Middle Ages, Saint Bernard de Menthon had a hospice built there to welcome travellers.
Petit-Saint-Bernard was the scene of the Franco-Savoyard wars, from Louis XIV to the Revolution. It was also the site of the “Hundred Hours War” in 1940 and the last battles on national soil during the Liberation, in 1944-1945.
Today, the pass has become a tourist passage with multiple attractions: discovery of archaeological remains or historical and old legends; summer excursions through mountain pastures, rocks and glaciers; Downhill skiing and cross-country skiing in the two adjoining stations that make up the Espace San Bernardo: La Thuile and La Rosière de Montvalezan.
It was only with the development of the automobile that the new road flourished: 52,000 vehicles passed through it in 1960.
This road, open from the beginning of June to the end of October, allows the junction of the 2 regions and allows the pass to be an attractive place for summer tourism.
Little St Bernard closely unites 2 valleys sisters, Valley of Aosta and Tarentaise, and 2 peoples brothers from Salasses and Ceutrons. A history of almost 2000 years united the 2 peoples. On one side or the other, the inhabitants like to cross the pass in summer to get away from it all or to visit their families.
The French language, which was the language of the Valdotains before the Second World War, is still widely spoken in Val d’Aoste, and constitutes for them a pride and a symbol of their autonomy.