Arrive Les Houches
The pretty Alpine 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 on the Tour du Mont Blanc.
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) / or Bionnassay - Les Contamines
Your trek starts with a ride on the Bellevue Telepherique to Col de Voza (1652m) where you join the Tour du Mont Blanc. Here you can choose from two routes. The easier goes via the pretty Alpine villages of Bionnassay(1314m) and Le Champel (1201m) to reach Les Contamines.
The tougher version delivers more rewarding mountain scenery. The route 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 climb again to Chalet du Truc and then descend to Les Contamines.
Les Contamines is an attractive town spread along the valley floor and the Monday morning market is a treat if you happen to catch it.
Walk: 6 Hours via Col de Tricot, 3.5 Hours via Bionnassay
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel Christiana*** , Les Contamines
Ideally located in the centre of the village the Mermoud family have been welcoming guests to this friendly mountain style hotel for three generations.
Notre Dame de la Gorge – Col Bonhomme (2329m) – Les Chapieux
Your day starts with a short (10 minute) shuttle or gentle 1 hour walk to Notre Dame de la Gorge, where the route begins to climb. One of the classic days of the Tour du Mont Blanc lies ahead.
Starting in mature pine forest alongside an impressive gorge and passing pretty alpine chalets the route 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 before you begin the long descent to the isolated hamlet of Les Chapieux.
Walk to Les Chapieux: 18km, 1316m Ascent, 929m Descent, 7 – 7.5 Hours.
Dinner & Overnight: Auberge de La Nova is a friendly and comfortable mountain refuge that serves a great beer and even better grub. You will have a private twin room.
Les Chapieux – Col de la Seigne – Visaille - Courmayeur
From 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. The Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif is much steeper than the French side and countless glaciers, seracs and waterfalls pour off the mountains. Jagged peaks and distant summits seem close enough to touch! The trail continues its long descent past Refugio Elisabetta to the Val Veni and then on to Visaille, where you catch the bus to your hotel in Courmayeur.
Walk: 15km, 900m Ascent, 790m Descent, 5 – 5.5 Hours
Overnight: Hotel Crampon***, Courmayeur
Located in the heart of Courmayeur the family run Hotel Crampon has a large garden and comfortable rooms.
Courmayeur - Arnuva - Grand col Ferret - Champex
Your day begins with a bus (25 minutes) 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 Swiss lakeside village of Champex.
Walk: 12km, 800m Ascent, 1050m Descent, 5.5 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel du Glacier*** , Champex
Since 1895 the Bisselx family have welcomed guests to their comfortable mountain hotel in the true tradition of Swiss hospitality. You can look forward to relaxing on the sunny terraces and dinner featuring regional specialities.
Champex – Col de la Forclaz - Argentière
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.
From Col de la Forclaz we have arranged a taxi (included) to take you to your hotel in Argentière. Located towards the top of the Chamonix Valley Argentière is a stylish winter resort and busy summer destination.
Walk via Alp Bovine: 17.5km, 742m Ascent: 900 m Descent, 5.5 Hours.
Walk via Fenêtre d’Arpette: 15.5km, 1200m Ascent, 1450m descent, 7 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel Couronne*** , Argentière
Located on the main road in the heart of Argentière the Hotel Couronne has 40 comfortable rooms and a restaurant specialising in Savoyard dishes.
Tré le Champ - Lac Blanc - Le Flégère – Chamonix
Your final day on the Tour du Mont Blanc is another day of superlatives. The free Chamonix Valley shuttle will drop you at your starting point of Tre le Champ. The path begins to climb immediately but the views just get better with every step.
The entire Mont Blanc range starring the Tour, Argentière and Mer de Glace Glaciers as well as the summit of Mont Blanc itself is on display across the valley.
The path climbs constantly until you reach the perfectly situated Lac Blanc Refuge, which offers probably the best view of Mont Blanc itself reflected in the lake.
A further hour of descent brings you to the Le Flégère cable car, which will whisk you down to Chamonix lying in the valley far below.
Chamonix is the heart of the French and Alpine mountaineering world and always buzzing. The perfect place to celebrate the end of your Tour du Mont Blanc.
Walk: 9km, 5 Hours, Ascent: 900m, Descent: 400m
Overnight: Hotel l’Arve***, Chamonix
Enjoying a quiet location with great views, despite being so close to the centre of Chamonix, the hotel l'Arve has 37 comfortable rooms and a friendly welcoming atmosphere.
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 Le Brévent is a favourite), take the cable car to the Aiguilles du Midi at 3795m or perhaps the train to the Montenvers on the Mer de Glace.
If you are heading home there are numerous shuttles, buses and trains back to Geneva and throughout France.
Your trip includes 6 nights in small 2/3* hotels in private double/twin rooms with private bathrooms and 1 night in a mountain hotel in a private double/twin room with shared bathroom. We specifically select your hotels for authenticity, warmth of welcome and great food and just know that you will adore them.Full hotel details are listed in the detailed itinerary.
If you require single rooms within a party a limited number are available, although a supplement is payable.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is not available to solo walkers due to safety considerations.
7 breakfasts and 6 evening meals 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 are not included but available at all overnight accommodation.
Your main luggage (maximum 12kg) is transferred between hotels each day If you have additional bags we can store these for you at no extra 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 1000m 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
So that you can spend your time walking the highlights of the TMB this itinerary skips several stages of the walk using public transport, cable cars and a private transfer. If you are finding the going too tough you can use lifts or public transport to skip several of the stages or big ascents/descents. Public transport and lifts/funiculars are not included in the cost of your trip and although your info pack has full details of each transfer you need to pay for these.
Yyou will need to use public transport/lifts as follows.
Day 2: Telepherique from Les Houches to Bellevue (Col de Voza).
Day 3: Optional shuttle from Les Contamines to Notre Dame de la Gorge.
Day 4: Optional shuttle from Les Chapieux to Refuge des Mottets. Shuttle from Visaille to Courmayeur.
Day 5: Local bus from Courmayeur to Arnuva. Local bus from Ferret or La Fouly to Champex via Orsières.
Day 6: Private taxi transfer from Col de la Forclaz to Argentière (included)
Day 7: Cable car from Le Flégère to Chamonix
In total you should allow about €50 per person to cover ski lifts and buses during the tour.