||France, Italy, Switzerland
||Hotel, Mountain Hut
Sep 7, 2021 - Sep 18, 2021
|Single Supp Cost
Hiking Trip Summary
The Mont Blanc massif is a 29-mile-long mountain range of awe-inspiring, needlelike peaks and bold, magnificent glaciers that spans the borders of three countries. How could a hiking route that winds its way through the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps as it circles the highest mountain in Western Europe, not be irresistibly alluring?
Our 12-day Tour Mont Blanc is a classic long-distance hut-to-hut hike experience. Beginning in the renowned mountain resort town of Chamonix, our route circles the Mont Blanc massif, traveling first through a remote corner of the French Haute Savoie, then dipping into the northwestern reaches of Italy’s Aosta region and then on to the Swiss canton of Valais. Finally, with nearly 100 miles under our boots, we come full circle returning to the Chamonix valley. Few routes offer as much grandeur and variety over such a manageable distance and in such a workable timeframe.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is the perfect introduction to European style hut-to-hut hiking. What sets the European style of hut-to-hut and inn-to-inn hiking apart from most multi-day hiking experiences available to us here in the US, is the ability to spend the day hiking through the mountains or countryside and end up at an accommodation, simple or luxurious, that will provide you with a refreshing drink, hearty meal, and place to rest your head.
The mountain hut or refuge system has existed for generations in the European Alps. Refuges can be old alpine farms or small hotels that have been converted to accommodate hikers, each having its own distinct character and charm.
Our approach has always been to indulge in what is unique to the Tour du Mont Blanc and the European style of hut-to-hut hiking. We stay in the mountain huts to soak in the remoteness and join in the camaraderie of fellow hikers. And, we stay in small inns and hotels along the way to relax into the well-earned comforts that towns and villages have to offer. With all of our accommodations providing hearty meals and warm beds, we embrace the simplicity and tradition of carrying our own packs.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a kaleidoscopic experience of ever-changing landscapes, riffs on alpine culture, and contrasting accommodations. As the route leads you through alpine meadows, over barren passes, into small Hamlets, and under gigantic glaciers, we’ll go from French pastry to Italian pasta, to Swiss Fondu each evening ending in the good company of fellow hikers.
Join us for the full Mont Blanc experience!
Day 1: Arrive in Geneva and transfer to Chamonix: Arrive Geneva, Cointrin International Airport. Group transfer to Chamonix, France, at 1:00 pm. Welcome dinner and orientation. Chamonix is home to a dazzling array of many of the highest peaks in the Alps, including Mont Blanc (15,776′). Overnight in a first class four-star hotel. Dinner included.
Day 2: Chamonix to Refuge de Miage: Short transfer to Les Houches and cable car to Bellevue. Here we 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 our steep descent from the col, we arrive at our refuge, set in an amazing valley. This overnight stop could be one of the prettiest settings on the entire route. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 3: Miage to Refuge de la Balme: From our refuge, we continue to the village of Les Contamines, where we have time to linger and buy lunch items for the next day. Departing Les Contamines, we hike up the Mont Joie Valley, past a 15th-century mountain church, Notre Dame de la Gorge, cross a small ancient Roman bridge and continue up this broad alpine valley to our simple overnight stop. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 4: La Balme to Refuge des Mottets: Departing our refuge, we begin a steady climb to the Croix de la Bonhomme and to the Col des Fours (8,960′). After a long descent passing through the Ville des Glacier and perhaps stopping to buy some beaufort cheese at a farm, we will end our day at a remote and rustic refuge. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 5: Mottets to Courmayeur, Italy: Today’s hike will lead us 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 will dominate the scene, with myriad glaciers and towering rocky peaks. Transfer by private bus to our comfortable hotel, located in the village of Courmayeur, Italy.
Day 6: Courmayeur: 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: Courmayeur to Rifugio Walter Bonatti: Today we hike from Courmayeur to Rifugio Walter Bonatti. There are a few hiking options for today and the weather and other factors will determine which hike we take, though all are amazing. Depart the hotel on foot and hike the steep trail to Rifugio Bertone, where we can pause to get a cappuccino at the rifugio. From here the trail contours around the mountainside, leading through the beautiful alpages of Leuchy, Armina, and Secheron and finally to Bonatti, our refuge for the night.
Should the weather be perfect we may continue to climb from Bertone to the ridgeline of Mont de la Saxe and to the Col Sapin and the Pas Entre Deux Sauts, before hiking down the remote and untouched Vallon Malatra to the rifugio.
The third option includes a short transfer up the Italian Val Ferret where we being our hike. This very pleasant trail is a great hiking option and has amazing views of the Mont Blanc Massif and the valley.
Rifugio Bonatti has a commanding view of the entire Italian Val Ferret and beyond. The mountain views are probably some of the best from any refuge anywhere. This is a comfortable refuge. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 8: Bonatti to La Fouly, Switzerland: From Bonatti we hike along a high alpine trail with an amazing view across to the Mont Blanc Massif. After some elevation loss, we begin the hike to Col Grand Ferret at the Swiss border (8,372′). Stopping for lunch en route, we are offered views of the Val Veny and Val Ferret, while the skyline is dominated by the Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille Talefre, and Mont Dolent. Overnight in La Fouly, Switzerland at a nice hiker’s hotel. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 9: La Fouly to Champex: A moderate day of hiking takes us from our hotel 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 and our comfortable hotel. This afternoon we will have some time to explore this small village, relax, or stroll around the lake. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 10: Champex to Argentiere, France: Departing the hotel in Champex at about 8:00 am, we start the day with a short private van transfer to the outskirts of the tiny hamlet of Trient, from where we being our hike to Argentiere. We will climb steadily to the French-Swiss border at the Col de Balme (7,230′). Crossing into France at the pass, once again the spectacular sight of the Chamonix valley and the Mont Blanc Range, with its dramatic peaks and glaciers, will be breathtaking. We end our day at the small village of Argentiere. Overnight in a small, simple hotel with private baths. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 11: Argentiere to Chamonix: On the June/July Trips we hike to Chamonix via the “Grand Balcon Sud,” with ever-changing views of the Aiguille Verte, the Aiguilles des Chamonix, and the glaciers of le Tour, Argentiere and the Mer de Glace. On the September Trip we hike to Chamonix via the “Petite Balcon Sud,” a lovely walk down the valley. Though mostly on a wooded path, there are great views of the Mont Blanc Massif. Today’s hike is a wonderful way to end our journey. We will arrive in Chamonix in time for lunch. Overnight at the same hotel in Chamonix. Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 12: Depart: Depart Chamonix about 7:15 – 7:30 for a group transfer to the Geneva Airport, arriving about 9:30 am. If you need an earlier departure we are happy to assist you. Additional transfers are not included in the cost.
If you wish to have your own room, there is a single supplement charge. However, single rooms are not available at the refuges – Miage, La Balme, Mottets, or Bonatti. Please let us know if you would like a single at the time of registration. Single rooms are limited.
If you are traveling alone and would like to share a room, we will match you with a roommate. If there is no one with whom you can share, we will not charge you extra for this “forced” single during the hike.
- Group transfers to and from the Geneva Airport
- All accommodations
- All breakfasts (some are continental, others are buffet)
- All dinners except two
- All group transfers on ski lifts, buses, and trains as described in the itinerary
- Great hiking and great memories!
Airfare, lunches, two dinners in Courmayeur, optional/individual transfers or excursions, items not on set dinner menu, beverages, insurance, tips to guides/leaders, items of a personal nature.
This hike is not vehicle supported. You will need to carry a pack with all 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 – 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 4-star hotels to rustic mountain refuges.
Hotels: For our 12-day Tour du Mont Blanc, we spend 7 nights in comfortable hotels with private baths: Chamonix (2 nights), Courmayeur (2 nights), Champex, La Fouly, and Argentiere. All are friendly, family-run hotels that reflect the local character. We are certain you will find these hotels comfortable and welcoming.
Mountain Huts or Refuges: We spend four nights in mountain refuges: Mirage, La Balme and Mottets, in France, and at Bonatti in Italy. The refuges in France are wonderful rustic farms that have been converted to accommodate hikers. They have co-ed bunkrooms, called dortoirs. The bunkrooms vary in size each night. Some refuges have bunkrooms that sleep 6, while others have larger bunkrooms that sleep 10 – 15. You should expect to share a bunkroom for these three nights. Bonatti was built purposely for hikers and has bunk rooms for 4 persons per room. Private rooms are not available at the refuges.
Breakfasts and dinners are served at the hotels or refuges and lunches are picnic style along the trail.
We feel that if you truly want to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc, staying in the refuges, which are in spectacular settings, is the only way to hike this amazing route. Sure, it is a little harder sharing your space for a few nights or carrying a few extra pounds on your back, but this effort is rewarded 100-fold when you arrive on foot and depart on foot, all the while carrying just what you need for the trip.
It is easiest to fly to Geneva. However, there are frequent trains from Zurich or Paris, just be sure to allow for extra travel time. Included in the trip cost is a group transfer from the Geneva Airport on Day 1 and to the Geneva Airport on Day 12.
Rendezvous at Geneva Airport at 1:00 pm on the first day for a group transfer to our hotel in Chamonix.
Included is a group transfer from Chamonix to the Geneva Airport on the last day. We depart the hotel in Chamonix between 7:15 and 7:30 am and arrive at the Geneva airport between 9:00 and 9:30 am. Should you need to depart Chamonix earlier in the morning, we are happy to help you arrange a transfer at an additional cost.
WHO WOULD LIKE THIS TRIP?
Our Tour du Mont Blanc trips are perfect for hikers who look forward to wonderful, challenging hikes and like the thought of staying in comfortable hotels as well as more rustic mountain huts. This route offers an excellent introduction to the European style of hut-to-hut and inn-to-inn hiking in the Alps. The scenery is awe-inspiring, the hiking demanding but not overly-strenuous, the accommodations varied, and the meals hearty. This is the alpine hike every hiker should do once, maybe twice!
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP DIFFERENT?
The Tour du Mont Blanc is our cornerstone. It was the first hiking route we offered as a guided trip in 1988, and it continues to be our fondest. A genuine alpine hiking experience, we believe, includes staying in mountain accommodations such as huts and refuges and carrying one's own pack. We do both of these on our Tour du Mont Blanc. Staying in a few refuges gets us out of town and into the mountains and carrying our own packs cuts down on the use of vehicles and creates a stronger connection to the landscapes we travel.
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP SUSTAINABLE?
20 years ago offering luggage support around Mont Blanc was an innovation, today its impact is obvious. Increasing numbers of tour companies are putting on increasing numbers of departures, all luggage supported. Not only is this causing obvious impacts to the trails due to increasing numbers of hikers, but more and more vehicles are also making their way ever farther into these mountains for the sole purpose of delivering luggage. There is something strangely disorienting about stepping out of a remote mountain hut early in the morning to be greeted by cool mountain air and an enormous pile of luggage waiting to be collected.
We think there are more important things than running as many people as we possibly can around Mont Blanc. We prefer to keep our impact to a minimum. We keep our groups small and our departures limited. We feel that carrying our own packs, we like to think of it as being "luggage free", is an environmentally kind and respectful way of being in these mountains.
We totally understand that for some hikers having luggage support in the mountains provides access to an experience they might not otherwise be able to have. We're all for that. And, for the rest of us, it's worth considering another way.
If you would like to register, receive more information, including a detailed itinerary (including elevation gains, loss, and distance), please contact us. We're happy to supply a list of past participants willing to share their insights into this guided Tour du Mont Blanc experience.
Reserving This Trip
A deposit of $500 along with your completed registration forms will reserve a space on your requested trip. We accept
MasterCard, Visa, and American Express card as well as personal checks. To make a deposit, you may either follow one
of the “Reserve a Trip” links below, give us a call at 1-888-845-5781, or include your payment information in the
area provided when completing your registration forms.
The balance is due 75 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 75 days prior to
departure, full payment is due. For final payments, we accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, as well as
As confirmation of receipt of your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive packet of information
pertaining to your trip, an invoice for final payment and additional information including release agreement form,
medical information form, travel information, and packing list. Upon receipt of final payment and no later than 30 days prior to your trip start, you will receive trip
rendezvous information and a list of accommodations. Returning trip participants will receive a 5% discount on most
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.