Day 1: 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 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 trek 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 where you join the Tour du Mont Blanc.
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 Christiania**, Les Contamines
Located on the main street this traditional 2* hotel is the perfect base in Les Contamines. (Twin room)
Day 3: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux or Refuge des Mottets
Leaving Les Contamines 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.
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 love 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.
Walk to Les Chapieux: 18km, 1300m Ascent, 950m Descent, 7 – 8 Hours.
Walk to Refuge des Mottetts via Col des Fours: 20km, 1600m Ascent, 900m Descent, 7.5 - 8 Hours.
Dinner & Overnight: Either Auberge de La Nova
The friendly and comfortable Auberge de la Nova serves a great beer and even better grub. Or Refuge des Mottets which is idyllically situated in the Ville des Glaciers with over 50 beds and great food.
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. Marmots 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.
Walk from Les Chapieux: (possible to reduce by 4km using shuttle bus) 27km, 1500m Ascent, 900m Descent, 9-10 Hours
Walk from Refuge des Mottets: 23km, 1300m Ascent, 900m Descent, 8 – 9 Hours
Alternative: This is a really long day if you prefer we can arrange for you to stay in Courmayeur tonight, skipping the section of the route over Col Chécroui by catching the bus from Col Chécroui. This takes at least two hours off the walk today and an hour or more off tomorrow’s walk.
Dinner & Overnight: Gîte Maison Vieille offers simple dormitory accommodation but has a great atmosphere and traditional mountain food is a forte of this gîte which enjoys a fabulous position.
Day 5: Maison Vielle to Rifugio Bonatti
Your day begins with a steep descent to the Italian village of Courmayeur by a pretty forrest path of cable car. In good weather the walk to Refugio Bonatti is guaranteed to be one of the most memorable of your Tour du Mont Blanc. Once in Courmayeur you make your way up to the Refuge Bertone before taking the main route contours around the flank of 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.
Walk: 18.5km, 990m Ascent, 860m descent, 8 hours.
Dinner & Overnight: Rifugio Bonatti
Widely regarded as one of the best refuges in the Alps the priavetly owned Rifugio Bonatti is a treat in every way.
Day 6: 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, 7 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: Hotel Edelweiss, La Fouly (Dorm)
Hotel Edelweiss is a comfortable mountain chalet style hotel which also has dormitory accommodation. You can upgrade to double/twin rooms for a small additional supplement if you would prefer a little more comfort half way through your trip.
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: 15 km, 5 Hours, Ascent: 450m, Descent: 550m
Dinner & Overnight: Gite Bon Abri, Champex
Located in woodland just outside Champex the pleasant family run Bon Abri has a welcoming atmosphere and great home cooked food.
Day 8: 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: Auberge Relais du Mont Blanc or La Hotel 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 are the most basic accommodations on the itinerary.
Day 9: Trient to Tré le Champ
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.
Walk: 11.5km, 1050m Ascent, 950m Descent, 6 Hours
Dinner & Overnight: Refuge Boerne, Tré le Champ or Le Tour
Day 10: Tré le Champ to Planpraz
The next two days are a real 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, a perfect spot to enjoy a picnic. 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 mountainside 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: 11.5 km, 6-7 Hours, Ascent: 1300m, Descent: 530m
Alternative: For those who don’t like heights there is a variation which avoids the ladders and takes the same time.
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. Descend 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 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 runs until approximately the 16th of September
(timetables are not yet available for 2019) If you are travelling when
it is not running, you will need to descend from Planpraz to Chamonix on
foot on Day 10 and reascend on foot on Day 11 (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 2 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 10 and again between Col du Brévent and Le Brévent on Day 11. 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 transfered to Refugio
Bonatti, 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
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.