Tracks and Trails / Walking / Scheduled Departures / Classic Tour du Mont Blanc

Classic Tour du Mont Blanc

Walking Tour du Mont Blanc

Lunchtime at the Swiss border

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is one of the classic trekking journeys in the world, covering 166km and with about 10,000m of ascents and descents. At the heart of the European Alps the massif of Mont Blanc straddles the borders of France, Italy and Switzerland and includes some of the most spectacular mountain scenery imaginable.

With its rich mountaineering history and unsurpassed cultural diversity, this corner of Europe has been an irresistible attraction for the world’s adventurers, climbers and hikers. Mont Blanc itself, at 4810 metres (15,781 feet), is the high point of the range and the highest peak in Western Europe. When viewed from the French town of Chamonix, the capital of world mountaineering, the snowy bulk of this commanding peak exerts a strange fascination.

Streams of cloud trailing from its summit bear witness to the fact that Mont Blanc stands high above the surrounding, and in some respects more dramatic, rocky peaks. The trekker and mountain walker is spoiled for choice in this part of the world, but one obvious challenge is to complete a circuit of the Mont Blanc massif. The well-known long distance walk (or Grand Randonée) known as the Tour du Mont Blanc does just that.

  • The Classic Panoramic Tour of Mont Blanc
  • High quality hotel accommodation
  • 10 Days trekking through 3 Alpine countries - France, Italy and Switzerland
  • Hike to Lac Blanc for views of Mont Blanc
  • Experience a night in the unforgettable Bonatti Refuge
  • Luggage transfers provided
  • Cross the Fenêtre d'Arpette & reach the Brevent Summit

Departures

Trip Departure date End date Price Status
CTM1 18 Sat 23 June 18 Wed 4 July 18 £1995 Places available | Make a Booking
CTM2 18 Sat 7 July 18 Wed 18 July 18 £1995 Places available | Make a Booking
CTM3 18 Sat 28 July 18 Wed 8 August 18 £1995 Places available | Make a Booking
CTM4 18 Sat 18 August 18 Wed 29 August 18 £1995 Places available | Make a Booking
CTM5 18 Sat 1 September 18 Wed 12 September 18 £1995 Places available | Make a Booking

Dates do not suit you? 

All our trips are available for private groups. If you would like to travel on different dates, or with family or friends on a bespoke trip, then please get in touch giving your preferred dates and itinerary.

Based on a series of ancient pathways used by hunters, herdsmen and traders, this classic long distance walk passes through some of the most breathtaking Alpine landscapes, crosses several high mountain passes, takes time out in pretty Alpine meadows and visits a succession of picturesque hamlets and villages. At the height of the summer, the trails are coloured by an abundance of wild flowers and alpine wildlife species, including chamois, ibex, marmot and golden eagle, are at their most visible. Our version of this justifiably popular trek starts in Chamonix making it's way through a quiet corner of France, crosses then into Italy then onto Switzerland and finally returns full circle back into the Chamonix valley.

We have allowed 10 days to complete the circuit, taking care that each of the stages represents a reasonable day’s walk and also ensuring that we have access to a good standard of overnight accommodation. A small pack including the bare essentials is all that needs to be carried on a daily basis, since we provide vehicle support to carry baggage from one overnight halt to the next. The only exception to this is when we spend an unforgettable night in the mountains at the famous Italian 'Bonatti Refuge'. The refuge is really not quite what you'd imagine a mountain hut to be like! Imagine arriving to remote unspoilt location to enjoy a welcome cappucino or fine wine, 4 course evening meal, take a shower (!) and enjoy what can only be described as superior views of Mont Blanc also known as 'Monte Bianco'. The Bonatti Refuge easily becomes a true highlight of anyone's Tour of Mont Blanc.

Our route takes us over varied terrain including rugged cols, high alpine meadows and conifer forests. We will see plenty of alpine flowers, and we are likely to see marmots, chamois, ibex and birds of prey. As well as Mont Blanc, we should have fantastic views of many other famous peaks in the area: the Domes de Miage, the Aiguille Verte, the Aiguille du Chardonnet, the Grandes Jorasses, Mont Dolent and the Grand Combin amongst others.

Trip Level 

This classic walking route is all on good trails. The average daily distance covered each day is 15 kilometres (9.5 miles) with approximately 1000m of ascent and descent so this trip is suitable for regular hikers or those with a good level of fitness. Your luggage will be transferred between hotels, except to the Bonatti Refuge, which means that you need carry no more than a small daypack. Carrying only a daypack and staying in comfortable valley hotels, makes this trip quite relaxed for its DEMANDING grade.

We always aim to complete the itinerary as outlined below, however, the following itinerary will be followed only when conditions and weather make it appropriate, both in terms of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will make a decision on your destination based on those conditions.

Day 1 Arrive in the Chamonix Valley

Your trip starts in the famous mountain town of Chamonix. Hotel rooms are usually available from around 4pm onwards, so if you arrive early you’ll be able to leave your bags at the hotel and easily explore the town. Your trek leader will come to your hotel at 6pm for a trip briefing and to answer any questions you have about the trip. Your accommodation is in a 3* hotel in the heart of the town. The group package services begin with the evening meal.

Day 2 Les Houches to Les Contamines

We start in Les Houches and ease to the trip with a cable car ride to reach the Bellevue. After taking in the view of the Chamonix Valley we begin the hike in earnest to reach the start of the Bionnassay Glacier with the Aiguille de Bionnassay towering above. Crossing the torrent via a fine new suspension bridge, we climb easily to reach our first ‘Col’ or mountain pass - the Col de Tricot at 2120m. Ahead lies the mighty Dômes de Miage and below us is the idyllic summer hamlet of the Chalet de Miage. We make a fairly steep descent to reach Miage and enjoy a welcome drink. To complete our day we make a short climb followed by an easy descent into the colourful village of Les Contamines for the night.

Distance 15.6km. Total Ascent 840m. Total Descent 1517m. Approx walking time 6 hours.

Day 3 Les Contamines to Les Chapieux

We begin today with an easy riverside trail to the impressive chapel known as the Notre Dame de la Gorge. Leaving the river our route then climbs steeply for a short section following the ‘paved’ Roman road to reach a Roman bridge. Our trail then eases as we pass through meadows and pastures of grazing cows to reach the refuge at La Balme perfectly located for refreshments before the climb to the Col de Bonhomme. This long, steady climb often has snow patches early in the season. At 2469m, this is considerably higher than the Col de Tricot, and offers wonderful views further into France including the Vanoise National Park. With the main climb complete we can enjoy traversing around and just slightly further up to our second col for today, the Croix de Bonhomme. We then descend steadily down to the sleepy settlement of Les Chapieux at 1553m. Tonight we will stay in a charming family run auberge at Les Chapieux.

Distance 19km. Total Ascent 1350m. Total Descent 960m. Approx walking time 7-8 hours.

Day 4 Les Chapieux to Courmayeur

We commence today with a short transfer along a section of tarmacked road to reach the ‘Ville des Glaciers’. This whole valley in the winter months is cut off to snow but in the summer offers some of the finest grazing ground for cows to produce delightful mountain cheeses. The trail then takes us towards the refuge Le Mottet, which doubles as a donkey and mule sanctuary. Many of these animals earn their keep by transporting baggage to our next high point, at the Col de la Seigne, 2516m. This is a significant col as we take our first steps into Italy! The panoramic views from the col are unforgettable as we can see not only the impressive Brenva face of Mont Blanc but right the way to Switzerland and the next white peak of the Grand Combin. We enjoy an easy descent past the Elizabetta Refuge under the awesome ridge of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey. After lunch we walk down the Val Veny valley to reach La Visaille where we can take a bus down to the vibrant town and mountaineering centre of Courmayeur. We stay tonight in a family run hotel in the town centre.

Distance 17.2km. Total Ascent 870m. Total Descent 1015m. Approx walking time 5-6 hours.

Day 5 Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

Leaving Courmayeur we climb a fairly steep but steady track to reach the Bertone hut. Here we make time for a morning cappuccino and soak up the views back down to Courmayeur before commencing the next part of our climb - up to the Mont de la Saxe ridge. This trail is by far a highlight in anyone’s walking career but should only be considered in good weather and when the trails are snow free. Once up on the ridge we are rewarded with first class views of many famous peaks of the Mont Blanc massif: the Grandes Jorasses, Dent du Geant, Mont Dolent and of course the mighty Mont Blanc or ‘Monte Bianco’! Our trail leads us over the Tête de la Tronche and then steeply down to the Col Sapin. We then have a short descent, followed by yet another climb to the Col Entre Deux Sauts before reaching the delightful Rifugio Bonatti for our overnight in the mountains. We can enjoy an ‘apero’ whilst watching the beautiful sunset behind Mont Blanc. Tonight is the only night of the trip without access to your luggage.

Distance 17km. Total Ascent 1585m. Total Descent 940m. Approx walking time 7 hours.

Day 6 Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly

Leaving the Rifugio we start along an easy balcony trail enjoying views both back to France and on towards our next destination, Switzerland. We descend down to Arnuva and climb up to the Refugio Elena for our final Italian coffee before embarking on the Grand Col Ferret (one of the highest cols on the trip at 2537m) and the border of Italy and Switzerland. Here we are rewarded with stunning views of the Val Ferret, the Grand Combin and Mont Dolent (the summit of which is the only mountain on the border of France, Switzerland and Italy). If we’re doing well for time we might stop for second refreshments at La Peule. Here we leave the signposted TMB and head to La Fouly via a higher balcony path. La Fouly is an alpine village with traditional Swiss “chocolate box” chalets. We are reunited with our bags as we check into a hotel in the village centre.

Distance 20.3km. Total Ascent 1128m. Total Descent 1580m. Approx walking time 6 hours.

Day 7 La Fouly to Champex

An easier day today but still wit charming views. We start off with a gentle walk downhill through woodland, meadows and along by the riverside. We pass through typical Swiss mountain villages and farm buildings before making a climb up and along the ‘Sentier de Champignons’ or mushroom trail to make an early arrival to the delightful lakeside village of Champex. Here we stay in a traditional hotel, with simple rooms but wonderful food.

Distance 17.2km. Total Ascent 710m. Total Descent 855m. Approx walking time 5 hours.

Day 8 Champex to Trient

There are 2 routes between Champex and Trient. If we are going well and the weather/ conditions allow we can climb to the pass known as the Fenêtre d’Arpette – the highest col on the Tour of Mont Blanc. At 2670m the Fenêtre d’Arpette is perhaps one of the most demanding days of the tour, but there are compensations. On reaching the rocky col the spectacular view across the Trient Glacier is quite breath taking. We will take time at the pass to fully appreciate the position, looking down towards a veritable sea of seracs and crevasses. We then descend to the Col de la Forclaz, Trient for our over night.

Distance 15.4km. Ascent 1480m. Descent 1760m. Approx walking time 6-7 hours. Please note that in summer 2015 there was a landslide which has affected this route and it is now not always possible.

If we want to be a little more relaxed, or if the weather dictates, we can take the normal TMB route via the Alpage known as the Bovine – it’s a gem of a route with different views but looking along the Rhone valley. The highlight of this route is stopping to visit Nathalie and family at the alpage and sample her homemade cakes! Both routes then continue down to the valley of Trient, our Swiss base for the night.

Distance 15km. Ascent 570m. Descent 570m. Approx walking time 5-6 hours. The leader will decide which route we take.

Day 9 Trient to Argentière

Leaving Trient we have two options to reach our next pass the Col de Balme. Our preference is to go via the less popular trail of Les Grands. This route allows us to linger over views of the Trient Glacier and to better appreciate the exposed position of the Fenêtre d’Arpette from the previous day. On reaching the Col de Balme, 2191m, we cross the border back into France where below us lies the Chamonix valley, dominated by the Aiguille Verte at one end and Mont Blanc at the other. We descend from the Col de Balme to Argentière via the hamlet of Tré-le -Champ to our accommodation for the night.

Distance 18 km. Total Ascent 1200m. Total Descent 1500m. Approx walking time 6 hours.

Day 10 Argentière to Chamonix via Lac Blanc

We start our hike from the middle of Argentiere villate as we head towards the Cheserys climbing area. This is one of the most stunning walks in the Chamonix valley! Your guide will choose which is the best route to take, but if conditions allow we plan to use a series of short ladders and handrails to skirt the rocky landscape – this is nothing to worry about and is not difficult in fact this trail does usually feature as a highlight of the tour. We then make our way to the Lac des Cheserys which is a truly beautiful spot and where we can stop for our picnic lunch. Then it's a short climb to the fabulous Lac Blanc with some of the most famous views in the world. We then make our way down the path to Flégère cable car where we descend to Les Praz, and stroll into town along the riverbank. A lovely end to another stunning day.

Distance 12km. Total Ascent 1260m. Total Descent 650m. Approx walking time 6-7 hours.

Day 11 Chamonix to Les Houches

A fabulous finale to our trip today - a case of saving the best to the last! We complete our Tour du Mont Blanc by taking the cable car up to the mid station of Planpraz, before climbing all the way up to the Col du Brévent where ibex can often be seen playing on the rocks. Then it's up to the Brévent summit and the perfect photo opportunity for shots of Mont Blanc and all its glaciers and jagged rock spires. The walk along the ridge provides an absolutely stunning panorama of the glaciers on Mont Blanc, more so than at any other time on the trip. You will feel as though you can almost 'touch' the ice! After our fantastic walk along the skyline we descend via the amazingly located Refuge Belachat to Merlet and finally all the way to the valley floor to reach Les Houches the starting point for our trip. We take a transfer back to our Chamonix hotel for a second night and enjoy a celebratory meal to mark the completion of our tour.

Distance 14.8km. Total Ascent 870m. Total Descent 1776m. Approx walking time 7-8 hours.

Day 12 Departure Day

The holiday package ends after breakfast. Please contact us if you’d like any extra days added to your trip.

Price

Included:

The services of a professionally qualified English-speaking International Mountain Leader. Quality hotel accommodation for 9 nights based on twin or double rooms including the first and last nights in Chamonix. 1 night at Les Chapieux in an "auberge" and 1 night at the Bonatti Refugio (traditional mountain style accommodation). All breakfasts and dinners will be provided. All transfers and cables as part of the itinerary and baggage support every day are included except the night in the Bonatti Refuge.

Not Included:

Travel Insurance, airport transfers, lunches, transfers and cable cars not part of the itinerary, personal expenses such as drinks, alcohol, souvenirs etc.

Luggage

On each trekking day, except the day to the Refugio Bonnati, there will be vehicle support to carry your luggage to the next overnight stop. To make things efficient during the luggage transfer process, and to prevent any losses, please keep luggage to a minimum i.e. a day sac whilst walking and one bag of about 15kg clearly labelled with your name. Please be aware that many hotels do not have 'lifts' so please make sure you can carry your bag!

Spending money

There are cash machines in Chamonix, Les Contamines, Courmayeur, La Fouly, Champex and Argentière. Mountain huts do not normally accept cards, but most of the hotels do. Pre packed lunches cost about 10-15 Euros per day if we order them in the hotels, but we can stop at shops en-route to make our own lunches for considerably less. A coffee or soft drink costs around 3 Euros, and a beer around 5 Euros. Bottled water can be expensive but we can usually fill up with tap water. Part of this trip is in Switzerland, so it could be useful to have some Swiss francs, or you can use the cashpoint in La Fouly. These can also be spent at Geneva Airport. It is also possible to use Euros in Switzerland, but you will normally receive your change in Francs, and it won’t be a very good exchange rate. Around 200-250 Euros per person should be enough to cover your personal expenses but it does depend how many coffees, beers and wines you consume! We recommend that you also consider bringing a few trekking snacks with you to supplement your lunches with.

Weather

In mountainous terrain the weather can vary considerably. Temperatures can reach over 30°c in the height of the summer (July/August), but can be as low as 5°c on the passes. It is often sunny with good clear days, but it can rain and snow (even in July or August) so you should be prepared for any eventuality. The average temperatures range from 15-25°c in the valleys and 5-15°c on the passes.

Minimum numbers

This trip will run once a minimum number of 4 clients have booked. We will take a maximum of 10 clients. We advise you not to make your travel arrangements until the trip is guaranteed to run.

Accommodation

Due to the nature of the accommodation on this trip; we use small hotels, in often tiny villages and one remote mountain hut. If you are booking as a couple you can expect to be in a twin or double room, normally with en suite facilities. In some smaller hotels it's possible we may need to share the bathrooms. Depending on availability we may have to use larger rooms for one night at Les Chapieux where accommodation is very limited. At the Rifugio Bonatti we always aim to book bedrooms or small bunkrooms, rather than dormitory although this depends on early booking. If you are a solo traveller and would like to book a single room this may be possible for a supplement of £450 upon early booking.

Further Information

Chamonix is easily reached from other European and worldwide destinations by road, rail, coach or plane. For suggested travel links please refer to our Booking & Information pages for further details. Geneva is the closest international airport, only 75 minutes away by road, making shared transfers, buses or trains easy to arrange. Please contact us if you need further advise on your specific travel requirements.

More information on how to reach Chamonix at www.chamonix.com Please do not hesitate to get in touch to chat through the details. Once you have booked we will send you a list of suggested equipment and clothing for the trek. Group transfers are available from around 25 Euros per person each way. We recommend ChamExpress and Mountain Drop Offs. Please note that transfers are subject to availability and your flight details are required a minimum of 72 hours before your arrival in Geneva. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your joining instructions 3 to 4 weeks prior to departure.

Our Partners

As our niche trips such as the Classic Tour du Mont Blanc are of a specialised nature we work with our partner companies to attract sufficient clients to reach the minimum number of participants to allow these trips to go ahead, meaning you are more likely to have your chosen holiday 'guaranteed'. Tracks and Trails in these instances may, in collaborating with our associates, make use of their guiding services. If you have any queries with regard to this please contact us.


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