Top Tips for Walking the Tour du Mont Blanc
I was lucky enough to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc this summer, so I have highlighted some of the questions I had myself before setting off on my adventure, and I’ll share a few personal tips while I’m here too! I am basing this guide on my experiences walking our Highlights of the Tour du Mont Blanc in Comfort itinerary, which meant I was staying in comfortable mountain hotels throughout and used transport to condense the trek into 8 Days.
Set off early in the morning
I am, by no means, a morning person but getting up early and getting out on the hike means that not only did I miss a lengthy queue for breakfast (and check-out), but I found that I’d have reached the summits by mid-day when making good time. You can check into your accommodation around 2 or 3 pm usually – I recommend bringing a foldaway bag with a change of t-shirt & comfortable shoes so that if you arrive early and your luggage is still on its way, you can still freshen up and relax. Being able to shove my boots into a bag at the end of the day made such a difference!
If you’ve planned to walk out with July and August, you might find that details for public transport options (including chairlifts and cable cars) aren’t yet available to you. Timetables for public transport go online usually around the beginning of July – you’ll have most likely booked your trip already before you know exactly when things will be running. Print off the timetables once they’re available and you can plan your hiking days accordingly. If you have any questions, of course, get in touch with us and we’d be more than happy to help! While I was out there, I found the Macs Adventure App incredibly useful. I would draw the route from the App onto my IGN map the night before, noting the names of the mountains and villages so that I had a good idea of what to expect the next day. When on the trail, if I felt like I needed to check that I was still on track, a quick glance at the App would give me the reassurance I needed.
Have I packed enough?
I packed far too much, as always! Laundry facilities are available in some of the accommodations and mountain huts, and if not, there’s nothing a little travel soap won’t fix. Most of the hotels had soaps and shampoos, and you can always pick up more toiletries in grocery stores along the way if necessary (which can be found in Les Houches, Les Contamines, Courmayeur, Champex, Argentiere and Chamonix). Out of everything I packed, I was most grateful for my walking poles and sunhat!
How much money will I need?
It’s handy to know that there are ATMs in Les Houches, Les Contamines, Courmayeur, Champex, Argentiere and Chamonix. You might find a couple of the mountain huts and hotels accept card, but most do not. I recommend bringing enough cash for each day with you-you never know when an ATM might be out of service, or perhaps you are like me and prone to forgetting your PIN Code… Generally, dinner would cost around 25 Euros when not provided (excluding alcohol), and lunch would generally be around 10 Euros. I found that 100 Swiss Francs was enough for 2 days in Switzerland with breakfast and dinner already covered - this included treating myself to a nice lunch and taking public transport as well. If you bring too many, you can always spend them at the airport (Toblerone, anyone?)
On the day we arrived in Chamonix the heavens opened, but luckily we had made it to our hotel just in time. The key is to make sure you’re checking the weather each morning, and if you are in any doubt, check with your hosts and hostesses in your accommodation. This is what your Alternative Weather & Transport Guide is for as well, and if you’re in any doubt, take a day off and travel by transport to your next destination (it’s not ideal, but you will know yourself what you are comfortable walking in).
Injury or Illness
You just never know when these things might happen. I managed to complete the TMB unscathed, however, my partner unfortunately injured his knee on Day 3. He powered on with a little help from local pharmacies (which you’ll find in Les Contamines, Courmayeur, Champex, Argentiere & Chamonix). More serious injuries do happen though, so it’s important that you purchase Travel Insurance. Also, make sure that you are covered for altitudes up to 2665m which is the highest point of the TMB.
Build in some rest days
Remember, this is your holiday! Make sure you leave yourself enough time to soak it all in. Courmayeur and Champex were particularly lovely, and of course, an extra night in Chamonix at the end is always recommended. Once we reached Champex, my partner was really suffering with his knee injury and I had was a bit rouge from the sun by this point. Like everyone else, we had headed out with the intention to walk the entire thing, however, we decided that taking public transport to Trient was the right thing to do in this case. It couldn’t have been easier – we bought a direct ticket on the bus which covered us for the entire journey, with multiple but seamless changes. We finished the day with nothing but admiration for the Swiss transport system. If in doubt, build a rest day into your itinerary. You will never regret a day of relaxation in the Alps!
Tourist Information Services:
No matter how much you prepare, last minute questions will always creep up on you. Not sure where to find the bus stop? Les Houches, Les Contamines, Courmayeur, La Fouly, Champex all have Tourist Information Offices. The host and hostesses at your accommodations will be more than happy to help you with any questions as well, and of course, you’ll always have us at Macs Adventure! There is only so much you can plan for though, isn’t there? Half of the experience is not knowing what awaits you. Of course, if you have any other questions that you’d like us to help with please do get in touch and we’d be delighted to assist!
If you require any more information on the Tour du Mont Blanc, you can download our free online guide.