The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the finest hiking tours in the world, but what to do if you don’t have time to hike the full route? For those who would like a shorter inn-to-inn hike, we always like to recommend the northern half of the TMB route. On this self-guided tour, you’ll still hike through all 3 countries – Italy, Switzerland, and France – stopping at beautiful inns each night. It’s a fairly moderate tour, with multiple passes to cross and plenty of alternate, strenuous options, but always with a good main route of 7-10 miles and 2000-3000 ft of elevation change each day. Our tour includes Geneva airport transfers to Courmayeur and back from Geneva, as well as luggage transfers and numerous itinerary options. With years of personal experience on this route, we have the expertise and attention to detail to help you choose the best way for you to hike Mont Blanc and experience one of the world’s classic hikes.
On this 6-night tour, you’ll have 4 nights in village hotels with private bathroom, and 2 nights in simpler hiker’s inns where private rooms are often available but not assured. We always book private rooms if possible, and space in dormitory otherwise. Early booking gives you a better chance to have private rooms all nights. Showers are available all nights. These inns are wonderful places with a lively and convivial dining atmosphere and are the stops where you’re most likely to meet other TMB hikers. There are many alternate versions of the Tour du Mont Blanc, and we can arrange variations on this trip – layover nights in villages, fewer nights in huts and mountain inns, or 4-star upgrades in Chamonix or Courmayeur for a luxury half TMB – so please ask if you’re interested in varying this itinerary.
What about luggage transfers? The self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc, North includes luggage transport (1 bag/person, 15 kg max weight). You’ll have luggage transfers to all stops except Bonatti hut (you’ll have it 5 of the 6 nights). Since you have bedding and meals provided each night, you can hike around Mont Blanc with very little in your pack, and if you have larger extra luggage, this can be stored at your hotel in Chamonix (let us know, so we can arrange for your taxi to take you there on arrival) or arranged to be transferred separately at additional cost. If you don’t need luggage at all, we can drop this from the tour and reduce your price. Please ask for more info on these options.
Your typical day on the TMB starts with a continental buffet breakfast at your hotel or inn, giving you the energy needed for a big day of hiking. Before setting out on your hike, visit a bakery and market for lunch supplies, or bring some money for a stop in one of the alpine restaurants along your route. Most of the hotels and mountain inns will sell picnic lunches if they are ordered the night before. Reminders will be included in your route notes. Soon, you’ll be out on the trail for 6-8 hours. With a several passes to cross, Tour du Mont Blanc is often strenuous, but there will also be opportunities for easier days.
You should finish each daily hike around 4-5 pm, sometimes earlier on the shorter days, giving you time to wash up, relax, and gaze upon Mont Blanc and the surrounding scenery. After that, enjoy a delicious dinner at your inn or on your own in town. These are multi-course feasts, featuring delicious local French and Italian specialties. A hearty meal provides a satisfying end to your day. This tour includes dinner on 4 nights – dinner is not included in Chamonix or Courmayeur, where there are numerous great restaurants to choose from.
Courmayeur – For the Tour du Mont Blanc North, it’s best to fly to Geneva, and we’ll arrange your private transfer to the medieval village of Courmayeur in Italy, where you stay in a pleasant and friendly hotel near the center of town. Courmayeur just over 2 hrs from Geneva.
There is plenty to do in the village, cable cars take you up to high vantage points, or there are great dayhikes near town. The nearby Pre St Didier spa is also a great way to relax if you arrive early. Courmayeur is a beautiful village, with cobblestoned pedestrian-only alleyways filled with comfortable cafes and stylish shops. Dinner is on your own in one of the many restaurants in town.
Rifugio Bonatti – One of the highlights of the TMB is the high traverse of Mont de la Saxe above Courmayeur, with incredible views of Mont Blanc and the towering Grandes Jorasses as you hike to the comfortable Bonatti hut. A more moderate hike follows an undulating traverse just above treeline directly to the hut.
Enjoy sunset views of Mont Blanc from the patio as you settle in for your second, and final, night in Italy. Double rooms are available but limited at the hut, and our tours include a room if available, and dorm otherwise. There are no singles here. If having a private room every night is important, this hut can be skipped, and hiked as a day hike from Courmayeur instead, while you stay 2 nights in Courmayeur.
La Fouly – Hiking to the back of the Italian Val Ferret, you’ll enjoy more great views while crossing the Grand Col Ferret and into Switzerland. The Grand Col Ferret is a modest pass, with grassy meadows great for savoring views back toward Mont Blanc.
When you’re ready to leave, you’ll descend through tidy green fields with high cliffs and glaciers reaching down from the heights, to the tiny village of la Fouly, a quiet stop along the Tour du Mont Blanc. For those who need to shorten their trip, we often recommend skipping this night and taking a bus to Champex instead. Stay in a comfortable 3-star hotel.
Champex – One of the easier hikes on your Mont Blanc tour takes you on a valley walk through woods and up to the pretty, lakeside village of Champex.
For strong hikers looking for a bigger day, a much more strenuous alternate route leads over a high pass, to a hut perched along the edge of the Orny glacier, before descending to Champex. Stay in a comfortable 3-star village hotel.
Col de la Forclaz – An undulating trail known as the Bovine route leads through pine forests and alpine pastures (and plenty of cows), with sweeping views of the Rhone valley.
Weather permitting, a more rigorous possibility leads up to the high pass of Fenetre d’Arpette, one of the highest points along the tour and along the Trient glacier. Finish the day at a small hiker’s inn at Forclaz or in nearby Trient. Double rooms are typically available, but limited.
Chamonix – On your final hiking day of the tour, cross the Col de Balme into France, coming back full circle to sweeping views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix valley.
If you’re looking for a short day, there is a gondola that can take you down from the pass. Otherwise, we send you on a beautiful side trail through alpenrose and wild blueberries with the brilliant glaciers of Mont Blanc ahead in the distance. Hike down to the village of le Tour where you catch a bus to Chamonix. Dinner is on your own in Chamonix this final night (we’ll give suggestions for some of our favorite celebratory restaurants).
depart – Today you say au revoir, and depart for your post-Mont Blanc destinations.
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