2019 Land Cost: $2,495 per person sharing a twin or double; $2,795 for a single or solo hiker for 12 days. Land cost may vary depending final itinerary.
Hiking Trip Summary
The Mont Blanc Massif, composed of Mont Blanc (15,536′) the highest peak in Western Europe and a flank of impressively spectacular peaks and glaciers, uniquely straddles the borders of France, Italy, and Switzerland. Rich in alpine history and cultural diversity, this region has been attracting mountaineers and hikers from the world over for over two hundred years.
Circling the base of the magnificent Mont Blanc Range, the route wanders through alpine meadows, over barren passes, into small hamlets, and beneath gigantic glaciers. During our 12 day tour you will view Mont Blanc and its surrounding peaks, glaciers and alpine valleys from three different countries as you hike in the French Alps, Swiss Alps and Italian Alps.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is undeniably one of the truly classic hut-to-hut hikes in Europe. This route was initially comprised of century old trade routes, which were linked together to form what the French call a Grande Randonnee. Simply put, the Tour du Mont Blanc is a great hike!
While the itinerary detailed below is based our 12 day guided trip, there are dozens of variations ranging from 5 to 14+ day, including various levels of accommodations. Let us know what you are looking for and were are happy to customize an itinerary for you.
This itinerary represents one of many possibilities. There are many variations depending on your time frame and level of hiking ability. Please contact us if you would like a more detailed itinerary including elevation gain, loss, distance and additional information.
Day 1: Independent travel to Chamonix, France. Chamonix is home a dazzling array of many of the highest peaks in the Alps including Mont Blanc (15,860′).
Day 2: Short transfer by bus to Les Houches and cable car to Bellevue (5,610′). Here you begin today’s hike passing by the foot of the huge Glacier de Bionnassay, then up through lush meadows to the Col du Tricot (6,995′) with spectacular views of the Aiguille du Bionnassay, Dome du Gouter and the entire Chamonix Valley. After a steep descent from the Col you arrive at your refuge, set in a lush valley dominated by the Dome de Miage. Often there is time to explore this beautiful valley before dinner.
Day 3: From Miage, you continue to the small village of Les Contamines with time to linger and buy lunch items for the next day. Departing Les Contamines, you hike up the Mont Joie Valley, past a 15th century mountain church, Notre Dame de la Gorge, cross a small Roman bridge and continue up this broad alpine valley to your overnight stop.
Day 4: Departing, you begin a steady climb to the Croix de la Bonhomme and to the Col des Fours (8,960′.) From here a 20-minute detour takes you to the highest point of the tour, Tete des Nord Fours (9,045′). Weather permitting there is an expansive 360-degree view. After a long descent passing though the Ville des Glacier and perhaps stopping to buy some Beaufort cheese at a farm, you end your day at the remote and lively Refuge des Mottets.
An alternate route is to hike to Chapieux and stay in a hiker’s hostel and resume the hike as below.
Day 5: Today’s hike brings you to the Italian border at the Col de la Seigne (8,300′). Hiking down the Val Veny, the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif and Mont Blanc itself dominates the scene with its myriad of glaciers and towering rocky peaks. Hike to La Visaille. Transfer by private taxi to your hotel in Courmayeur, Italy. This transfer is included in the cost of the trip, and we will make arrangements for you to be met at La Visaille. Dinner on your own.
From either Chapieux or Mottets it is possible to hike to Rifugio Maison Vieille. This adds another wonderful day and a half of hiking before arriving in the village of Courmayeur.
Day 6: Rest day in Courmayeur. The day can be spent exploring the town’s narrow streets, sampling the local pastries and cuisine, day hiking, or taking a series of cable cars up to Point Helbronner and into the heart of the Mont Blanc Massif.
Day 7: Transfer by private taxi from the hotel in Courmayeur to the end of the spectacular Val Ferret. Hike to Ferret, Switzerland over the Col Grand Ferret (8,372′). Stopping for lunch en route you are offered views of the Val Veny, Val Ferret and the skyline is dominated by the Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille Talefre and Mont Dolent. This wonderful day of hiking ends in the Swiss Val Ferret.
Many of our hikers depart on foot from Courmayeur and hike to the wonderful Rifugio Walter Bonatti for the night. This strenuous hike is perhaps one of nicest on the entire route. The next day the route continues to Ferret, Switzerland. We recommend this option.
Day 8: A moderate day of hiking takes you down the Ferret Valley through small Swiss hamlets and beautiful gardens. The hike ends with a climb up to the picturesque lake village of Champex. This afternoon you will have some time to explore this small village, relax or stroll around the lake.
Day 9: There are two hiking options for today. One is via the high alpine pastures of Bovine with expansive views of the Rhone Valley, and the other more difficult route is up and over the ruggedly beautiful Fenetre d’Arpette. The second option is possible only if weather conditions are appropriate. You end the day in the quiet town of Trient. You can decide which hike you prefer in the morning.
Day 10: Hike from Trient to Tre le Champ or to the village of Argentiere, France over the Col de Balme (7,230). Crossing into France at the Col, once again the spectacular sight of the Chamonix valley and the Mont Blanc Range with its dramatic peaks and glaciers will be breathtaking. You can end your day at either the small refuge in Tre le Champ or continue about 25 minutes further down the trail to Argentiere and stay in a small, simple hotel.
It is possible to hike from Trient all the way to Chamonix in one day. There are several hiking options and buses that can shorten the hiking day. This is a great option if you are short on time and need to combine two hiking days into one.
Day 11: From Tre le Champ or Argentiere you hike to Chamonix with ever-changing views of the Aiguille Verte, the Aiguilles des Chamonix, the glaciers of le Tour, Argentiere and the Mer de Glace. There are several hiking options for today’s hike
Day 12: The trip will end at the hotel in Chamonix. Please allow for travel time when making plans.
General consulting regarding hiking dates and abilities
Travel information and suggestions
Detailed French IGN Topo maps, 1;25,000 scale, covering the route
Detailed trail notes – we keep our notes updated and as accurate as possible
Additional information covering various aspects of your trip (i.e. lunches, laundry, water, refuge routines, alternate transportation, etc.)
All overnight accommodations, which include breakfasts and most dinners (hotels with private baths as described in itinerary, other overnight accommodations may vary)
All private taxi transfers, if any, as detailed in the final itinerary
The above may change depending your final confirmed itinerary.
This may vary depending on final itinerary: Airfare, luggage transfer if any, lunches, travel to and from the starting point, which is normally Chamonix, cable cars, ski lifts, any transfers or excursions on trains, buses, taxis, extra charges due to changes in itinerary, items not on set dinner menu, dinners in Chamonix, Courmayeur, Argentiere, beverages except what is served at breakfast, insurance, items of personal nature (phone calls, laundry, excess baggage charge, medical expenses, evacuation costs, insurance, passport fees, etc.). Allow roughly $250 – $450 in additional costs.
This hike is not vehicle supported. You will need to carry a small to moderate sized pack with only the clothing and accessories you will need for the duration of hike. (See our sample packing list.) With advances in synthetic clothing and other travel gear, it’s possible to keep your pack weight to 15 to 20 lbs. including lunch and water. Any extra luggage or belongings you may have can be left at the hotel in Chamonix.
Accommodations and Facilities
The accommodations on the TMB vary from comfortable 3 star hotels to rustic mountain refuges. Your trip may or may not included the following depending on your final confirmed itinerary.
Hotels: Hotels with private bath include Chamonix, Courmayeur, Ferret or La Fouly, Champex and Argentière. All are friendly, family-run hotels that reflect the local character. We are certain you will find these hotels comfortable and welcoming.
Hiker’s Hotels : The hiker’s hotels offer simple and basic, though comfortable accommodations. They have private double rooms with shared facilities. Hiker’s hotels include Chapieux, France and Ferret and Trient, Switzerland.
Refuges or Huts: They are wonderful rustic farms that have been converted to accommodate hikers. They offer shared bunkrooms, called dortoirs, complete with blankets and pillows. The shared facilities vary, but all have washing and bathroom areas and hot showers. Refuges include: Miage, La Balme, Bonhomme and Mottets in France; Maison Vieille and Bonatti in Italy. Depending on your final itinerary you might not stay at all these refuges.
The atmosphere is friendly and jovial as hikers from many countries gather to spend the night. We believe that staying in the huts and small hotels offers a wonderful opportunity to meet hikers from other parts of the world, experience something new and wonderful and take part in the simple tradition of the European style of hiking hut-to-hut.
Meals: Breakfasts are served each morning at the hotels, hiker’s hotels and refuges. Lunches are picnic style on the trail. Dinners are served at the hiker’s hotels and refuges. Dinners are not included in Chamonix, Courmayeur or Argentiere.
The closest international airport is Geneva, Switzerland. From Geneva you can travel to and from Chamonix by train, a shared van, private taxi or bus. Depending on the route and mode of transportation travel time between Geneva and Chamonix can be between 1 and 4 hours. There are also trains from Zurich or Paris, just allow for extra travel time.
Who would like this trip?
Not only is our Self-Guided Tour du Mont Blanc a great introduction to hut-to-hut hiking in Europe, it also offers a great introduction to self-guided hikes. This route is well traveled and well marked, offers solid hiking with a nice variety of accommodations. Anyone with with some hiking experience and some map reading skills will greatly enjoy the Tour du Mont Blanc.
What makes this trip different
We are a small company. As founders we take part in every aspect of the business from designing our trips, to speaking directly with prospective hikers, to guiding. We are intimately familiar with our trip areas, the hotel and hut owners and service providers with whom we work. At the end of a day of hiking on one of our self-guided itineraries, whether you are ending your day at a mountain hut or village hotel, you will be greeted with the same anticipation and welcome as if we were arriving along with you. We are dedicated to providing personal attention and crafting a quality experience at good value that is just right for you.
Our traditional starting point for the Tour du Mont Blanc is Chamonix, France. Other possible starting points include Courmayeur, Italy and Champex, Switzerland.
As the Tour du Mont Blanc is a circular route most of our itineraries end back in Chamonix.
For a more detailed itinerary that includes elevation gains, loss and distance, or to register please call or email us.
Any hiking trip in the mountains requires a certain amount of effort and proper fitness training will enhance your enjoyment. In the mountains, time and elevation gain or loss as opposed to distance, tend to be the determining factors when defining hiking grades or level of difficulty. We have done our best to grade our trips consistently, please contact us for further clarification. We are happy to offer names of past participants.
Easy: Hike 3 to 4 hours daily carrying a day pack on generally gentle terrain. Distances from 4 to 8 miles. Elevation gain and loss 500' to 1,500'.
Moderate: Hike an average of 4 to 5 hours daily on varied terrain. Distances from 5 to 9 miles. Elevation gains and losses generally 1,500' to 2,500' or about 2 hours.
Strenuous: Hike 5 to 7 hours daily on varied terrain, with consistent ascents and descents of 2 to 3 or more hours generally 2,500' - 3,500'. Distances from 6 to 11 miles. There are some sections that include steep uphill and downhills.
Strenuous Plus: 5 to 8 hours partly on rocky, challenging terrain with consistent steep ascents and descents of 2 to 3 or more hours generally 3,000'-5,000'. Distances from 6 to 15 miles. Though each day is not strenuous plus there are some sections that may include rough terrain and open and exposed trails.