Hike a more sustainable, authentic Tour du Mont Blanc
|Location||France, Italy, Switzerland|
|Accommodations||Hotels, Mountain Hut|
Jun 28, 2023 - Jul 09, 2023
Sep 08, 2023 - Sep 19, 2023
Sep 08, 2024 - Sep 19, 2024
|Single Supp Cost||
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.
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 best Tour Mont Blanc trip experience out there!
Day 1: Arrive Chamonix, France: Independent travel to Chamonix, France. Chamonix is home to a dazzling array of many of the highest peaks in the Alps including Mont Blanc (15,866'). Overnight at a comfortable hotel located in the center of Chamonix. Welcome dinner and orientation. There are several options for travel to Chamonix.
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. Our group will share a bunkroom; shared facilities. 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. Our group will share a bunkroom; shared facilities. 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. Private double or twin bedded rooms with private bathrooms. Dinner on your own.
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. Dinner on your own.
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. Our group will share a bunkroom; shared facilities. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 8: Rifugio Bonatti to Ferret, 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, Val Ferret, while the skyline is dominated by the Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille Talefre, and Mont Dolent. Overnight in Ferret, Switzerland at a sweet little hikers’ inn. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 9: Ferret to Champex: A moderate day of hiking takes us 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. Private double or twin rooms with private bathrooms. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 10: Champex to Trient: The hike from Champex to Trient via the high alpine pastures of Bovine offers stunning and expansive views of the Rhone Valley. We end the day in the quiet town of Trient. Bathroom facilities are shared. This popular spot is fun and welcoming and a great way to have a last meal together while “on the trail”. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 11: Trient to Chamonix: Hike from Trient to Chamonix over the Col de Balme (7,230). At the col, where we hike into France, the spectacular sight of the Chamonix valley and the Mont Blanc Range, with its dramatic peaks and glaciers, is breathtaking. As we hike to the valley, we will have ever changing views of the Aiguille Verte, the Aiguilles des Chamonix, the glaciers of le Tour, Argentiere, and the Mer de Glace.
Once in the valley at Montroc le Planet, we will transfer the short distance to Chamonix. There are some lifts options that can shorten the downhill section of the hike. Overnight in the same hotel in Chamonix. Farewell dinner.
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.
September 8 - 19, 2024
Land Cost 2024: $4,950.00
Single Supplement for 2024: $700; forced single $400
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, the“forced” single supplement rate is $400.
Airfare, lunches, travel to Chamonix, 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 the 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.
The accommodations on the TMB vary from comfortable 5-star hotels to rustic mountain refuges.
Hotels: For our 12-day Tour du Mont Blanc, we spend 6 nights in comfortable hotels with private baths: Chamonix (2 nights), Courmayeur (2 nights), Champex, and Ferret. 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: The mountain hut or refuge system has existed for generations in the European Alps. Refuges can be old alpine farms, purpose-built, or small hotels that have been converted to accommodate hikers, each having its distinct character and charm. They typically have co-ed bunkrooms, called dortoirs, though some refuges do offer private rooms. The bunkrooms vary in size each night. Some refugees have bunkrooms that sleep 4 - 6 hikers, while others have larger bunkrooms that accommodate 10 – 15. You should expect to share a bunkroom for these four nights. We spend four nights in mountain refuges: Miage, La Balme and Mottets, in France, and at Bonatti in Italy. Private rooms are not always available at the refuges.
Breakfasts and dinners are served at the hotels and refuges and lunches are picnic style along the trail.
We feel that if you truly want to experience a traditional, authentic Tour du Mont Blanc, staying in the refuges, often in remote and tranquil settings, is the best way to hike this amazing route. The 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.
The trip starts at the hotel in Chamonix on day one. It is easiest to fly to Geneva from where you will travel independently to Chamonix. 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 Chamonix to the Geneva Airport on Day 12.
Rendezvous at the hotel in Chamonix on day one.
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.
Our Tour du Mont Blanc trips are a great option for fit hikers who look forward to challenging hikes and like the variety 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 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. A genuine alpine hiking experience embraces staying in mountain accommodations such as huts and refuges and carrying one's pack. Staying in refuges gets us out of town and into the mountains and carrying our packs cuts down on the use of vehicles and creates a stronger connection to the landscapes we travel.
30 years ago offering luggage support around Mont Blanc was an innovation, today its impacts are obvious. The uniqueness of the route along with its accessibility has brought increasing numbers of hikers into the mountains and with them increasing numbers of vehicles whose sole purpose is to deliver luggage. We remember how thrilling, awe-inspiring, and rewarding the Tour du Mont Blanc was for us the first time we hiked it. Our concern has been whether those same things that so captivated us, the grandeur of the glaciers, the stillness of alpine meadows, the welcomed refuge of a mountain hut, will endure.
Though possibly small gestures in the scheme of things, we endeavor to keep our impact to a minimum. We keep our groups small and our departures limited. We feel that carrying our packs and forgoing luggage support is an environmentally kind and respectful way of being in these mountains.
We 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.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is our cornerstone trip. It was the first hiking route we offered as a guided trip in 1988, and it continues to be our fondest. We have deep connections to the area and long, well-established relationships with refuge and hotel owners along the route. Guided groups around Mont Blanc is a labor of love for us and an opportunity to share our passion for this area and the rewards of this shared experience.
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.
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 personal checks.
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 trips.
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.
"They are very well connected on the TMB – all the hut and hotel owners greet them with open arms, so you know you’re going to be treated well."
Kem Edwards, New Haven CT
As I reflect on our hike now, so many months later, I still feel its impact in so many positive ways. In some remarkable way, I felt at the time, and I still feel, so much better connected to myself. I came home feeling physically strong, happy, confident and much more open to the world and people. It's a wonderful feeling. I think just being in my body and outside every day changed me in some way.
Mary Head, Putney VT
I’d just like to let you know that the Tour du Mont Blanc was a trip of a lifetime! Brooke and I had the greatest time. Rupert is the best guide in the world. He is such a wealth of knowledge, kind, generous and fun! Our trip mates were awesome, and we built life long friendships. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. We’ll definitely be working with you the next time we book a trip.
Blythe Manson, Redmond WA
“I liked every part of the trip. The hiking was great fun; the accommodations were cool; and the guides were terrific. My favorite hike, I think, was Day 7 (from Courmayeur to Bonatti). The weather was perfect that day and the views from the ridge were amazing.”