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 to 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 (recommended).
At Bellevue 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, 650m Ascent, 630m Descent
Walk via Chalets de Miage: 18km, 7.5 Hours, 1500m ascent, 1300m 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.
Les Contamines to Refuge des Mottets/Les Chapieux
A gentle start from Les Contamines for the first 4km along the valley floor to chapel at Notre Dame de la Gorge. 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: 20km, 1600m Ascent, 900m Descent, 8 Hours
Walk to Les Chapieux: 18km, 1300m Ascent, 950m 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 or walk up to Refuge des Mottets to continue on the trail to Col de la Seigne
Day 4: Les Chapieux/Refuge des Mottets to Courmayeur
The Col de la Seigne (2516m) lies a steep 750m above the Refuge des Mottets and is where you leave France for Italy. The trail descends through high alpine meadows past refuge Elisabetta into the Val Veni.At Lac Combal you leave the TMB for a couple of kilometres to follow the valley floor to la Visaille, where you catch the local bus to Courmayeur.
Walk from Les Chapieux: 22km, 6-7 Hours, 1000m
Ascent, 800m Descent, 9-10 Hours
Walk from Refuge des Mottets: 17km, 750m
Ascent, 800m Descent, 5-6 Hours
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.
Or Hotel Crampon*** , Courmayeur Located in the heart of Courmayeur this family- run hotel has a large garden and comfortable rooms.
Day 5: La Visaille to Courmayeur
Purists may choose to head back to La Visaille by bus or taxi and cover the section of the trail from Lac Combal via Col Checrouit back into Courmayeur. In favourable weather, this high route is well worth the effort and is a wonderfully scenic section of the trail. Alternatively, you may wish to spend the day relaxing in the charming Italian town of Courmayeur.
Walk from La Visaille: 16.5km, 760m ascent, 1560m descent, 5-6 Hours
Rest day in Courmayeur
Nestled at the heart of Italy’s Aosta Valley, Courmayeur is bustling in summer with plenty to fill your day. Choose from a gentle stroll, a relaxing cappuccino and people watching on the piazza or perhaps take the cable car to Refugio Torino and the Punta Helbronner (3462m), where you can enjoy the most spectacular views of the Mont Blanc Massif.
Day 7: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
In good weather the walk from Courmayeur to Rifugio 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 Rifugio Bonatti, the crème de la crème of alpine refuges, marks the end of your day.
Walk: 12km, 850m Ascent, 700m descent, 4.5 hours. (The variants almost double the ascent and add 2 hours)
Dinner & Overnight: Rifugio Bonatti
The privately owned Rifugio 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 since there is no road access. You will need to carry your overnight things today.
Day 8: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly
The day begins with a glorious contouring walk from Rifugio 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: 20 km, 895m Ascent, 1410m Descent, 6 – 6.5 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel Edelweiss, La Fouly
Hotel Edelweiss is a comfortable yet basic mountain hotel.
Day 9: La Fouly to Champex
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, Ascent: 450m, Descent: 550, 4.5 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.
Day 10: 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. 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, 750m Ascent: 950 m Descent, 5.5 Hours.
Walk via Fenêtre d’Arpette: 15.5km, 1200m Ascent, 1450m Descent, 7 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: La Grand Ourse, Trient
La Grand Ourse has been recently renovated and now provides auberge style accommodation for walkers. You will have a private room with shared facilities. This is the most basic accommodation on this itinerary, but its convenient location cannot be beaten.
Or: Auberge Relais du Mont Blanc
The Relais du Mont Blanc is another basic accommodation in Trient. You will of course have a private room but this is a very busy stop for walkers.
Day 11: Trient to 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 Argentière or catch the free shuttle bus.
Walk: 11.5km, 1050m Ascent, 950m Descent, 5 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.
Day 12: Argentière to Planpraz
The next two days are in my opinion a highlight of the Tour du Mont Blanc. 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: 11.5km, 7.5 Hours, Ascent: 1300m, Descent: 530m
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 13: 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 Brévent & the rocky pedestal of the le Brévent (2525m). Mont Blanc seems within touching distance on the opposite side of the valley. Descend past Lac Brévent and continue 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
Day 14: 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.
13 Nights accommodation is included in your trip. 10 Nights are in small hotels (generally 3*) and 3 nights are in auberges/refuges in a private twin rooms as hotels are not available in these locations.
We carefully select small friendly hotels that offer great value, food and welcomes. The accommodation we normally use is detailed in the itinerary.
Private Rooms on the Tour du Mont Blanc
As the Tour du Mont Blanc season is short and as the "Comfort" trips have proved to be especially popular this year, please be aware that there is currently no guarantee that private rooms will be available in the smaller accommodations. We will still continue to do all we can to accommodate your preferences.
Please be aware that twin & double rooms in Switzerland are typically 2 single mattresses side by side in one double bed frame with two separate duvet covers and pillows.
Solo Walkers & Single Rooms
This tour is not available to solo walkers. Single rooms are available for each nights stay with exception of Day 3 and 6, there is a limited number and therefore are subject to availibility. A single supplement is payable
13 Breakfasts and 8 Dinners are included (not in Courmayeur or Chamonix). Breakfast in the 3* hotels is a buffet selection with lots of sweet treats like pastries, home made jams fruit and cereals. Savoury tastes are also catered for with bread, cheese, ham and eggs available.
Breakfasts in the mountain hotels and huts tend to be very basic; bread, butter, jams, coffee, tea and orange juice. If you prefer something more substantial before walking, we recommend carrying a few energy bars with you each day and supplement your breakfast with one of these. Packed lunch items can be bought locally from supermarkets or the local boulangerie. If you are staying in a hut or remote accommodation, order a packed lunch with them upon arrival.
Dinner in the hotels will be at least three courses chosen from a fixed menu, and sometimes there is a choice available.
Dinner in the mountain huts tend to be a convivial affair, and you will be seated with the other guests. Meal times are a real highlight in the huts, and you can enjoy the company of people from all over the world while you dine on good honest home cooked food. Dinner is typically soup with bread, a main course consisting of meat and rice or pasta, a side salad or vegetables, followed by a simple dessert or cheese. If you have any dietary requirements, please tell us upon booking and we can arrange this with the accommodations.
In Chamonix and Courmayeur. dinner is not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Savoyard specialities are mostly based on cheese. Dishes which shouldn’t be missed include fondue, tartiflette and raclette.
Is available as an optional extra. If you book luggage transfer your main luggage will be transferred between your accommodations each night except night 7 at Refugio Bonatti due to the inaccessibility of the refuges which have no road access. You will need to carry your overnight things and your bags will catch you up the following day.
Your baggage will be collected from your hotel in Les Houches. On all other days your baggage will be collected and delivered to your next night’s accommodation.We can arrange for extra baggage to be stored in Chamonix for the duration of your walk for a small charge.
Time of Year
The season for the Tour du Mont Blanc runs from the start of July to mid
September. The trail is sometimes closed until the first week of July
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
month of 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.
The Plan Praz cable car will run until the 15th of September. If you are travelling when
it is not running, you will need to descend from Planpraz to Chamonix on
foot on Day 12 and reascend on foot on Day 13 (approx 900m
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. There are two sections that include the use of fixed ladders and footholds, and require some very light scrambling. This is on the Grand Balcon du Sud route between Tré-le-Champ and Lac Blanc/Le Flègére on Day 12 and again between Col du Brévent and Le Brévent on Day 13. Both sections can be avoided by taking an alternative route. These will be detailed in your route notes.
Navigation, Route Notes & Maps
The Tour du Mont Blanc is comprehensively way marked at all junctions and by regular paint marks along the trail. We supply you with detailed 1:25 000 IGN maps, a comprehensive guidebook and route notes so you should have absolutely no problem following the route. We also provide you with access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone App, which you can use to navigate. We strongly recommend using this App, or at least having it on your phone ready to use should you ever be in any doubt about your direction. You should also polish up on your map and compass skills prior to departing, as weather and visibility can change very quickly in the mountains, and these kinds of skills never go out of fashion!
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 transferred to Refugio
Bonatti (night 7), 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 12/13.
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. Please note that public transport in the area in the shoulder months of June and September is limited, see 'Time of Year' for more information.
The following transfers are necessary during your walk. You should allow about €40 for these transfers.
Day 12: Cable car from La Flégère or Plan Praz to Chamonix
Day 13: Cable car from Chamonix to La Flégère or Plan Praz