Day 1: Arrive Les Houches
The pretty 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 hotel, stroll through the town and get ready for your adventure on the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Dinner & Overnight: Chalet Hotel Les Campanules**, Les Houches
Enjoying wonderful views the 2 star Chalet Hotel Campanules punches well above its weight with great views, service and comfortable rooms.
or: 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.
Les Houches - Bellevue (1801m) – Les Contamines
Your Tour du Mont Blanc starts with either a climb from Les Houches out of the Chamonix Valley to Bellevue(1801m) or a quick 10 minute ride on the Bellevue telepherique.
At Bellevue (1801m) you have the option of taking the tough route via Chalet de Miage, which is dominated by the Dôme du Goûter and Aiguille de Bionnasay as you pass just beneath the snout of the Glacier de Bionnassay. After passing the idyllic Chalet de Miage you descend to Les Contamines.
The easier option winds through beautiful forests and through alpine pastures via Bionnassay to Les Contamines.
Walk via Bionnassay: 16km, 5 Hours, 646m Ascent, 633m Descent
Walk via Chalets de Miage: 18km, 7.5 Hours, 1478m ascent, 1318m descent
Optional Cable Car: Reduces both routes by 2 hours and 900m of ascent.
Dinner & Overnight:
Hotel Chemenaz***, Les Contamines
The Chalet style Hotel Chemenaz is just outside the village, has 38 bedrooms and a swimming pool.
Or: 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.
Day 3: Les Contamines – Col Bonhomme (2329m) – Refuge des Mottets/Les Chapieux
A gentle start from Les Contamines for the first 5km along the valley floor to chapel at Notre Dame de la Gorge (shuttle transfer possible). Here the path turns upwards and 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 you quickly 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. Here you can either climb over the Col des Fours (2665m) and descend steeply to Refuge des Mottets or alternatively descend to Les Chapieux.
Walk to Refuge des Mottets:16km, 1500m Ascent, 900m Descent, 8 Hours
Walk to Les Chapieux: 18km, 1316m Ascent, 929m Descent, 7 – 7.5 Hours.
Dinner & Overnight: Either Refuge des Mottets, which is an idyllically located mountain refuge that was refurbished recently and has comfortable private rooms and is well known for its hearty evening meals.
Or: Refuge de la Nova in Les Chapieux. This is a friendly mountain hotel in a lovely location and the next morning you simply take the shuttle bus up to Refuge des Mottets.
Day 4: Refuge des Mottets to Courmayeur
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 steep southern side of the Mont Blanc Massif, made up of jagged peaks, hanging glaciers and plunging waterfalls, seems close enough to touch. The trail descends through high alpine meadows past refuge Elisabetta into the Val Veni.
Here you must choose either the tough option which climbs via Col Chécrouit to Courmayeur or the easy option of continuing past the snout of the huge Glacier du Miage to Visaille, where you catch the shuttle bus into Courmayeur.
Walk to La Visaille: 15km, 900m Ascent, 790m Descent, 5 – 5.5 Hours
Walk to Courmayeur: 27.5km, 1160m Ascent, 1818m Descent, 8 – 9 Hours
Alternative: This is a really long day if you follow the official route all the way to Courmayeur via Col Chécrouit. It can be shortened by catching the bus from La Visaille in the Val Veni to Courmayeur. This cuts about 10km, 500m ascent and 1100m descent from the day. If you want to walk this section we suggest adding an extra night in Courmayeur and returning to La Visaille the next day to walk this section.
Overnight: Hotel Bouton d’Or*** , Courmayeur
Located just a few minutes from the pedestrianised centre of Courmayeur the family run Hotel Bouton d’Or is wonderfully friendly and has a calm garden and terrace in which to relax.
ort: Hotel Crampon***, Courmayeur Located in the heart of Courmayeur the family run Hotel Crampon has a large garden and comfortable rooms.
Day 5: Courmayeur to Refugio Bonatti
In good weather the walk from Courmayeur to Refugio Bonatti is guaranteed to be one of the most memorable of your Tour du Mont Blanc. Choose from three variations for the next section, all of which start with a steep climb from Courmayeur. The main route then contours around the flank of Mont de la Saxe on an undulating path giving you plenty of time to take in the dramatic icy panorama of the Mont Blanc Massif and Grand Jorasses across the valley.
The variants via Col Sapin or Mont de la Saxe include more climbing but the views are arguably better. Whichever route you choose Refugio Bonatti, the crème de la crème of alpine refuges, marks the end of your day.
Walk: 12km, 860m Ascent, 698m descent, 4.5 hours. (The variants almost double the ascent and add 2 hours)
Dinner & Overnight: Refugio Bonatti
The privately owned Refugio Bonatti has a reputation as one of the best in the Alps. You will have a private twin room. Your bags cannot be transferred to Bonatti due to a lack of road access so you will need to carry a few overnight things with you.
Day 6: Refugio Bonatti – Grand col Ferret – La Fouly
The day begins with a glorious contouring walk from Refugio Bonatti before descending into Val Ferret, where the climb of Grand col Ferret begins. The top of the col brings up Switzerland. Descending through picture book scenes of chalets, grazing cattle and fabulous alpine views you soon reach La Fouly, an idyllic alpine village of wooden chalets overflowing with flowers.
Walk: 20km, 895m Ascent, 1410m Descent, 6 – 6.5 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel Edelweiss, La Fouly
Hotel Edelweiss is a comfortable mountain chalet style hotel.
Day 7: La Fouly to Champex
Walking through the Val Ferret with its patchwork of peaceful forests and green pastures is balm for the body and soul as this is the easiest stage of the TMB. On the way to Champex you will be walking on some of the quietest trails in the Mont Blanc Massif. The village of Les Arlaches, made up of traditional wooden Swiss Chalets, seems to have leapt from a postcard and is a highlight of the day. Your overnight stop is the lakeside town of Champex.
Walk: 15km, 4.5 Hours, Ascent: 450m, Descent: 550m
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.
Day 8: Champex - 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. Whichever route you choose you will end the day by descending right to the valley floor to the small village of Trient.
Walk via Alp Bovine: 17.5km, 700m Ascent: 840 m Descent, 5.5 Hours. Walk via Fenêtre d’Arpette: 15.5km, 1184m Ascent, 1330m descent, 7 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: Auberge Relais du Mont Blanc Or: Hotel la Grande Ourse, Trient
Nestled deep in the valley Trient is always bursting with walkers on the Tour du Mont Blanc and Walkers Haut Route and both of these hostelries cater admirably for them.
Day 9: Trient - Col de La Balme – Tré le Champ – Argentière
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! The route then continues via the Col des Posettes and Aiguillette des Posettes, with wonderful views throughout, before descending into the Chamonix Valley at Tré le Champ.
From Tré le Champ you can either walk the 1.5km to your hotel in Argentiere or catch the free shuttle bus.
Walk: 11.5km, 1069m Ascent, 950m Descent, 5 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel Couronne***, Argentière
Located on the main road in the heart of Argentiere the Hotel Couronne has 40 comfortable rooms and a restaurant specialising in Savoyard dishes.
Day 10: Argentière to Planpraz
The next two days are in my opinion the highlight of the Tour du Mont Blanc. The views across the Chamonix Valley to the Mont Blanc Massif are outstanding throughout.
From your hotel the trail climbs via Aiguillette de Argentière to the Grand Balcon Sud of the Aiguilles Rouges, taking in a few fixed ladders on the way. You are now in the Aiguilles Rouge Nature Reserve and sightings of Ibex, Marmot and many other furry creatures are common.
You continue to climb to Lac Blanc, where the idyllically situated refuge is the perfect spot for lunch. Another hour of descent brings you to the cable car station at Le Flégère, continue past the cable car and take the 'Balcon Sud' route traversing across the mountain side with stunning views of Mont Blanc as you go. The balcony route arrives at Planpraz where you can take the cable car down to the centre of Chamonix.
Walk: 12km, 6-7 Hours, Ascent: 1450m, Descent: 800m
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.
Day 11: Planpraz to Les Houches
Begin your day by catching the cable car back up to Planpraz. For your last day on the Tour du Mont Blanc you have several options. The toughest, but most rewarding takes you all the way to Les Houches via the Col du Brevant & the rocky pedestal of the le Brévent (2525m). Mont Blanc seems within touching distance on the opposite side of the valley. Descent past Lac Brevent and traverse onwards to Bel Lachat before making the descent to Les Houches and a short bus or train ride will take you back to Chamonix. This day can be shortened at several points.
Chamonix is the centre of mountaineering in the French Alps and always a hive of activity and is the perfect place to celebrate the end of your walk around Mont Blanc.
Walk: 11km, 430m Ascent, 1530m Descent, 6 Hours
Overnight: 3* Hotel l’Arve, Chamonix
Day 12: 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, take the cable car to the Aiguille 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.
Time of Year
The season for the Tour du Mont Blanc runs 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. Please note that public transport in the area in the shoulder months of June and September is limited. This means that certain 'short cut' options will not be at your disposal during these months. Those hiking in these months should be prepared to walk the full distances each day. In the itinerary description you will find the daily distances both with and without any possible short cuts.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
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.
Grade & Terrain
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. The terrain is mountainous, rocky and rough underfoot.
Navigation, Route Notes & Maps
The Tour du Mont Blanc is well waymarked with a combination of signs, arrows and the famous red and white stripes which can be found on tress, rocks or posts. We supply a detailed guidebook, notes and 2 good quality IGN maps. We strongly advise that you are comfortable using a map and compass for navigation as the weather and visibility can change very quickly in the mountains.
Baggage transfer is included as standard, allowing you to enjoy the trek with just a light day bag on your back. We ask that you limit your baggage to one bag per person with a maximum weight of 15kg per person. On this particular itinerary, your bags cannot be transfered to Refugio Bonatti (night 5), due to the inaccessibilty of the accommodation. You will need to carry your overnight things on these days and you will be reunited with your main bag the following day.
If you would prefer not to have bag transfer, and prefer to carry everything on your back as you walk, this can also be arranged. Just ask one of your Destination and Adventure specialists for more information.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.
The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
Travel during the walk
You will need to use the cable car from La Flégère to get to and from your accommodation in Chamonix on day 9/10.
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 and although your info pack has full details of each transfer you need to pay for these.
The following transfers are necessary during your walk. You should allow about €40 for these transfers.
Day 10: Cable car from La Flégère to Chamonix
Day 11: Cable car from Chamonix to La Flégère