We’ve been running around the Alps on our own for years, and we’re very excited to team with Doug Mayer from Run the Alps to offer what we think are the best guided trail running vacations in the Alps.
We’ll start our tour in the rustic Italian village of Courmayeur, on the south side of Mont Blanc. We’ll enjoy a day of trail running along high pastures and through the bucolic hamlets of the Val Ferret, all within full view of the glaciers of the Mont Blanc massif.
Our route will then takes us over the border to Switzerland, as we run inn-to-inn along the second half of the iconic Tour du Mont Blanc. We’ll cross the high Grand Col Ferret and descend to the villages of La Fouly and Trient.
From Trient, we’ll run over Col Balme on the French-Swiss border, and descend to Chamonix, arguably the world’s epicenter of trail running. No place has more trail running history, or is more alive with mountain runners taking in the dramatic views from the home of modern alpinism.
We’ll be in Chamonix for the excitement of the legendary Mont Blanc Marathon series of trail races, which range from 10 km to 80 km. Many of the world’s best trail runners will be on hand. A limited number of race entries are available through our partners at Run the Alps. Chamonix is known as, “La Vallée du Trail,” for its wide variety of trail running opportunities. We’ll sample the best runs, through the Aiguille Rouge nature preserve, onto the high balcony routes on either side of the valley, and even the thrilling “Kilomètre Vertical.”
Typical distances are 6-12 miles, with about 3,000 feet of climbing. Many days include the option to extend or shorten the day, based on personal interests.
Courmayeur – Arrive in Geneva, and transfer to the quiet, “sunny side” of Mont Blanc in Courmayeur, Italy. An airport pickup is included, making this an easy and relaxing two-hour journey. Enjoy impressive views of Mont Blanc, with time to relax at our charming Courmayeur hotel before joining the group for our trip meeting, followed by dinner.
Courmayeur – We’re on our way! Today, we’ll run the first section of the Tour du Mont-Blanc to Chamonix, France. It’s a breathtaking day on several fronts: sustained ascents with smooth, runnable single track and the grandeur of the Val Ferret. We’ll make the most of the Italian hospitality en route, as it’s one of the best features on the entire tour. The day ends with transport back to our Courmayeur hotel.
La Fouly – Switzerland and the French-speaking region of the Valais canton beckon as we’ll head over the high point of the trip, the dramatic border crossing at Grand Col Ferret. There are lots of runnable sections to follow as we wind our way down to the quiet end-of-the-valley village of La Fouly. We’ll pace ourselves and include plenty of hut stops for photos and treats.
Trient – Time for some valley cruising! Today we’ll start by running along La Drance de Ferret river, passing through rustic Swiss hamlets in the Val Ferret. After a short climb, we’ll have lunch along the lake in Champex, before tackling the climb up to to Bovine, finishing with a reward of homemade cake and drinks amidst the impressive and hardy Val d’Hérens cows. The day ends with a downhill run to the steep-walled Swiss village of Trient.
Chamonix – Time to run into Chamonix, France! We’ll climb up to the classic refuge on the Swiss-French border at Col Balme. From here, options exist to take mountain transport back to Chamonix– or run through the villages of the valley along valley paths.
At the end of the day, we can wander into old Chamonix to watch some of the best runners in the world finish the tough 80-km ultra race, or tackle the steep Chamonix Vertical Kilometer.
You’ll be on your own tonight for dinner, allowing a chance to wander the pedestrian walking routes of Chamonix and pick one of the many open-air restaurants that fill the village.
Chamonix – Today is race day for one of Europe’s oldest trail races, the venerable 23-km Cross du Mont-Blanc, and a more recent 10-km trail race. Run the Alps has entries available for trip participants who want to enjoy a classic Alps trail race!
For those of us watching, there are great locations to which we can run and cheer on the runners with an “Allez-Allez!” or “Bravo!” In town or high atop Planpraz a thousand meters above town, we’ll watch racers as they finish the course.
Chamonix – Today, you’ll have the option of running the famed Chamonix Marathon. For those of us not racing, we’ll tackle another of Chamonix’s great trail runs, perhaps taking a gondola to the Swiss border at Col Balme, and running high into the alpine zone to the French Alpine Club, Albert Premier, on the side of a glacier. An option exists to cheer on racers as they run along the scenic Aiguillette des Possettes. We’ll end the day with a celebratory farewell dinner in Chamonix.
Chamonix – It’s time to take leave of the “Valley of Trail Running.” Your shuttle will take you directly to Geneva for the flight home. An option exists to stay additional nights in Chamonix, using Run the Alps’ self-guided materials for additional trail running.