Day 1: Arrive Les Houches
The sleepy village of Les Houches is easily accessible by either train or shuttle from Geneva Airport in just over an hour. On arrival you can settle into your comfortable three star hotel, stroll through the town and get ready for your adventure.
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel Du Bois, Les Houches
Enjoying a wonderful outlook the 3* Hotel du Bois offers comfortable rooms, great food and has a sauna and swimming pool.
Day 2: Col de Voza – Col du Tricot (2120m) - Refuge Tré le Tête
Your trek starts with a ride on the Bellevue Telepherique to Col de Voza (1652m) where you join the Tour du Mont Blanc. Your first morning of walking is dominated by the Dôme du Goûter and Aiguille de Bionnasay as you pass just beneath the snout of the Glacier de Bionnassay on your way over the Col de Tricot (2120m).
After passing the idyllic Chalet de Miage you descend towards Les Contamines and then follow an outstanding variant of the Tour du Mont Blanc to Refuge Tré le Tête.
Walk: 15km, 7 – 8 Hours
Variation: If you would like an easier first day you can choose to stay
in Les Contamines (6 hours walking via Col de Tricot or 3 – 4 hours via
Dinner & Overnight: Refuge Tré le Tête is located at the foot of the Glacier de Tre La Tête at 1970m. Wonderful views and even better deserts are just two things to look forward to.
Day 3: Refuge Tré le Tête – Col Bonhomme (2329m) – Les Chapieux or Refuge des Mottets
An epic day of walking starts with a steep descent through fragrant pine forests to rejoin the main route of the Tour du Mont Blanc at Nant Borrant. The route then climbs steadily on the Chemin Roman through the Contamines Montjoie Nature Reserve towards the distant Col du Bonhomme.
A steady climb reveals increasingly rugged views of the high peaks and very quickly you reach the rugged landscapes of the Col du Bonhomme (2329 m). A further hour on rough and rocky ground brings up the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. If you are staying in Les Chapieux you descend past the spectacularly located Refuge Col de la Croix du Bonhomme all the way to the valley below.
Those staying at Refuge des Mottets have the choice of either descending to Les Chapieux and then catching the shuttle to Les Mottets or connoisseurs will live the climb to the Col des Fours (2665m), which promises clear views of Mont Blanc before descending into the remote and beautiful Valle des Glaciers.
Dinner & Overnight: Either Refuge des Mottets idyllically situated with over 50 beds and a welcome meal at the end of a great day.
Or: Auberge de La Nova, Les Chapieux. The friendly and comfortable Auberge de la Nova serves a great beer and even better grub.
Walk: Hours: 7 – 8 Hours.
Day 4: Les Chapieux / Refuges des Mottets to Col Chécrouit
If you have stayed in Les Chapieux you can either walk the 5km up the road or catch the local shuttle to Refuge des Mottets. The Col de la Seigne (2516m) and lies a steep 750m above the Refuge des Mottets and is where you leave France for Italy. Just wait until you see the view! Stupendous!
The trail descends through high alpine meadows past refuge Elisabetta into the Val Veni. But the best views of the day lie ahead. As you reach the snout of the huge Glacier du Miage you climb again onto the southern slopes of the Val Veni.
The steep southern side of the Mont Blanc Massif, made up of jagged peaks, hanging glaciers and plunging waterfalls seems close enough to touch. Marmotts and marigolds are common on this section and the scenery will have you reaching for your camera every few yards. The trail from Col de la Seigne to Col Chécrouit really must be one of the world’s finest walks.
Dinner & Overnight: Gîte Maison Vieille – 1965m offers simple dormitory accommodation but has a great atmosphere and traditional mountain food is a forte of this gîte which enjoys a fabulous position.
Walk: Hours: 6h30, Ascent: 1100 m. Descent: 950 m.
Day 5: Col Chécroui to Champex
Your day begins with a steep descent to the Italian village of Courmayeur by a pretty forest path or cable car. Enjoy a cappuccino in the stylish capital of the Italian Alps before catching a bus or taxi (transfer not included) to Arnuva, in the heart of the beautiful Val Ferret, in the Grandes Jorasses.
Back on your own two feet you ascend Grand Col Ferret (2,537 m), you are in Switzerland! Descent to Ferret (1740 m) where you catch the local bus to the lakeside village of Champex.
Overnight: Gite Bon Abri, Champex
Walk: Hours: 5h30 Ascent, 800 m Descent, 1050 m
Day 6: Champex to Trient
The official route goes via Alp Bovine, a splendid walk through pine and larch forests interspersed with alpine meadows and wonderful views down the Rhône Valley.
Alternatively the demanding variant goes via the spectacular Fenêtre d’Arpette to the Trient Valley. Climbing to 2665m it’s a challenging and exposed route but worth every step. Descending right to the valley floor in Trient (1280 m) you can look forward to a good meal.
Overnight: Auberge Relais du Mont Blanc
Walk via Alp Bovine: Hours: 5 h 30 Ascent: 750 m, Descent: 900 m.
Walk via Fenêtre d’Arpette: Hours: 8 h00 Ascent: 1200 m, Descent: 1400 m
Day 7: Trient to Montroc via Col de La Balme
From Trient, you climb to reach the French border at Col de Balme (2191 m). From the Col the entire Mont Blanc Massif stretches ahead; the Chamonix Valley, the summit of Mont Blanc, the Aiguilles, the Mer de Glace and the Argentière glaciers! A suitable high to end your Tour du Mont Blanc on!
The route then follows then continues via the Col des Posettes and Aiguillette des Posettes, with wonderful views throughout, before descending into the Chamonix Valley at Montroc. Here you catch the train or local bus to Chamonix.
Chamonix is the centre of mountaineering in the French Alps and always a hive of activity. The perfect place to celebrate the end of your walk around Mont Blanc.
Overnight: Hotel Vallee Blanche
Situated right in the heart of Chamonix this small three star hotel occupies a charming former mill and is a great base for your last night of the trail.
Walk: Hours: 4h00, Ascent: 900 m, Descent: 850 m.
Day 8: Onward Travel
Chamonix is a great base to spend a couple of days and we would recommend that you add extra nights here. You can enjoy some fabulous walking in the Aiguilles Rouge Park (the walk to Lac Blanc is a favourite), take the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi at 3795m or perhaps the train to the Montevers on the Mer de Glace.
If you are heading home there are numerous shuttles, buses and trains back to Geneva and throughout France.
Your first and last nights are in a private room (twin/double share) and the five nights on the trail are in mountain refuges/huts in shared mixed sex dormitories. Mountain huts are spectacularly located and allow you to stay high in the mountains each night rather than dropping down into the valleys. The detailed itinerary has links to the huts and hotels we use. If you would prefer private rooms then our Tour du Mont Blanc in Comfort would be a better option.
This tour is not available to solo walkers and single rooms are not available except on the first and last nights. A supplement is payable.
7 continental breakfasts and 6 hearty and tasty evening meals (at refuges) are included. Packed lunches are available from your accommodation (order the night before) or you can stop on the way. Allow about 10 Euro per day for lunch. Drinks and snacks are not included but are available at overnight accommodation and along the way.
Baggage transfer is NOT included but available as an optional extra. If you choose this option your main luggage (maximum 12kg) is transferred each day apart from on day 2 when you will not have access to your luggage. If you have additional bags we can store these for you at no charge.
Experience & Fitness
As this is a self guided walk you will be responsible for navigation, decision making and safety during your trip. This walk is strenuous, crosses high mountain passes and the weather can change quickly. You should be able to navigate easily with a map and compass in poor visibility and be experienced in the mountains.
The route averages about a 100m of ascent and descent each day so you should be walking fit and if not engage in a rigorous fitness programme prior to the trip. Walking poles are highly recommended as the TMB is tough on the knees.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care, which is very expensive.
Getting to Les Houches / From Chamonix
By Air: Geneva is the best airport for the Chamonix valley. You can catch a train or bus but the best option is a pre-booked shuttle. Chamexpress is one of the better ones and costs 28 Euro each way.
By Rail: TGV to Saint-Gervais-Le Fayet. www.voyages-sncf.com and then Mont Blanc Express to Les Houches. For the return, they are regular trains between Chamonix and St Gervais les Bains Le Fayet.
Highway A40-E25 Mont Blanc-Chamonix, exit Les Houches. More information at www.viamichelin.fr
Parking: At Les Houches you can park at the Bellevue Telepherique base station.
In Chamonix, free parking at the Aiguille du Midi & the parking Planards (Montenvers station).
Travel during the walk
In order to focus on the best sections of the TMB you will skip some stages of the walk using public transport and lifts. These are not included and although your info pack has full details of each transfer you need to pay for these.
Day 1: Telepherique from Les Houches to Bellevue (Col de Voza).
Day 5: Ski lift Chécrouit - Courmayeur, Courmayeur shuttle-Arnuva; Swiss Postal Bus Ferret - Champex via Orsières.
Day 7: Ski lift optional Col de La Balme – Le Tour (500m vertical drop-down).
Planning your Tour du Mont Blanc can be a challenge. These are some of the questions that we are frequently asked. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more advice.
How fit do I need to be?
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a tough trek with considerable ascent and descent on each day. We would suggest that you are an experienced walker who is looking for a challenge. If you currently don’t enjoy an active lifestyle we suggest regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardio vascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your walk. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
Which is the best airport to fly to?
The closest airport is Geneva which is served by flights from throughout Europe and around the world.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, sleeping sheet, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. A detailed kit list is included in your information pack.
When is the best time of year?
The season for the Tour du Mont Blanc rusn from mid June to mid September. The trail is sometimes closed until the last week of June due to snow, in which case your tour would need to be rescheduled or cancelled.