The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the best hiking tours in the Alps. It’s certainly the most popular… and for good reason. Start in stylish, sunny Chamonix and spend 10-12 days hiking around the biggest mountain in the Alps. What can be better than that? Cross high passes as you tour through three countries. Hike all day, eat whatever you want, delight in the views, then reach your cozy inn each night. Perfection. We’ve done the TMB many ways, and we like it this way, with a warmup day in Chamonix, an extra day midway in Courmayeur, and a memorable night at the incredibly scenic Bonatti hut. They are all worth it.
It helps to think of the TMB as a pilgrimage. Yes, there are jaw-dropping mountains, the three countries all bring their own cultural flair, the air is clear and the water clean and the trails invigorating. But there’s more to it than that. You will meet people on this trip, from around the world, at a small mountain hut where you had lunch, and perhaps again on the trail the next day. People with similar hobbies and desires and a shared sense of awe. It’s great fun, and it makes a gorgeous trek into a memorable one as well.
Chamonix – For the Tour du Mont Blanc, it’s best to fly to Geneva, and we’ll arrange your transfer to Chamonix, the world-famous resort and mountaineering center at the foot of Mont Blanc. This transfer is included in your tour and will bring you right to your hotel for your first night in France.
Enjoy the ambiance of this beautiful village with impressive views of Mont Blanc. Stay in a comfortable 3-star hotel in town. Dinner will be included tonight in one of our favorite local restaurants.
Chamonix – One of the classic hikes in the region leads to Lac Blanc for an introductory dayhike. This high-mountain lake sits in the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Preserve, a rugged ridge across the valley from Mont Blanc, and commands one of the greatest mountain views anywhere. Make good use of local cable cars to enjoy more time hiking near the lake, and keep an eye open for bouquetin – a mountain goat with long curved horns that are frequently sighted in this region.
This hike is very similar to the Argientiere to refuge lac Blanc stage that you will see on many itineraries, but it’s so close to Chamonix, we prefer to stay there a 2nd night, in the heart of this thriving, fun village. Dinner will be on your own tonight (we’ll give suggestions).
les Contamines – Leaving Chamonix, your Mont Blanc circuit starts with a cable car above the scenic Voza Pass to the lovely Bionnassay Valley, a quiet, wooded region with impressive glaciers and waterfalls, and capped by blinding peaks.
An optional (but recommended) ascent leads over the higher Tricot Pass to the Miage Valley, before descending to the quaint village of les Contamines. Our home away from home here is the Hotel Gai Soleil, a friendly oasis with wonderful meals.
les Mottets/les Chapieux – Today the tour du Mont Blanc route leads you on a long ascent across two lofty passes, Col du Bonhomme and Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. This a long day, but taken slow and steady, it’s not unusually hard, and there are many beautiful sights along the way to keep you going.
From the Bonhomme pass, descend to the tiny hamlet of les Chapieux and stay the night in a rustic mountain inn. There are just 2 small hotels here, la Nova and les Chambres du Soleil. Another option we love is to stay at the Refuge les Mottets a bit higher up the valley, a simple but convivial hiker’s inn, with newer private rooms and small 4-person dorms, and a charming dining hall.
Courmayeur – Leaving les Chapieux or les Mottets, a gradual ascent through quiet alp pastures leads to the Col de la Seigne and into Italy. Here you’re greeted by an amazing view into the Veny Valley and the Mont Blanc range. The Aiguille Noire de Peuterey is particularly impressive from this vantage point, and Mont Blanc itself dominates the view ahead of you.
You might stop at the Elisabetta hut for lunch and have your choice of either the long high route to Col Checrouit, or continue down valley to a bus stop and finish early. You’ll stay the next 2 nights in the medieval village of Courmayeur, in a pleasant and friendly 3-star hotel. Dinner included in a local restaurant tonight.
Courmayeur – A second day in Courmayeur is a great way to break up the Tour du Mont Blanc. There is plenty to do in the village, cable cars take you up to high vantage points, or there are great dayhikes near town. If you didn’t hike via Checrouit yesterday, that’s a very scenic option. Head out on a beautiful hike, or just take the day to relax.
If you’d prefer not to hike today, the nearby Pre St Didier spa is a great way to unwind half-way through your tour, or take the cable car up to Monte Bianco for high glacier views. Even more relaxing… spend some time in town. Courmayeur is a beautiful village, with cobblestoned pedestrian-only alleyways filled with comfortable cafes and stylish shops. Dinner will be on your own tonight. You’re in Italy… pizza anyone?
Rifugio Bonatti – One of the highlights of the tour 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. This hike is sometimes skipped on shorter itineraries because it’s easy to skip, but it’s one of our favorite stages of the trip, and we think you’ll love it.
Enjoy sunset views of Mont Blanc from the patio as you settle in for your final night in Italy. Bonatti is a popular hut and a great place to meet other hikers at their communal dinner tables. Double rooms available but are very limited. If a private room every night is important, we suggest adding another night in Courmayeur and doing this hike as a day hike instead. There is a bus stop in the valley below that makes it easy to get back to town.
La Fouly – Hiking to the back of the Italian Val Ferret, you’ll enjoy more great views on your last morning in Italy while crossing the Grand Col Ferret and into Switzerland. You might sense the change to a new country, and a new culture.
Descend through tidy green fields with high cliffs and glaciers reaching down from the heights, to the tiny village of la Fouly, one of the quieter stops 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, but if you have time, la Fouly is a very nice stop as well. Stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Champex – One of the easier hikes on your Mont Blanc tour takes you through woods and up to the delightful, lakeside village of Champex. This is a nice moderate day passing pretty waterfalls and tiny villages. Champex is an inviting place to arrive early and relax along the lake. It was seemingly made for postcards.
If you’re up for a challenge though, we have one for you. A much more strenuous alternate route leads over a high pass, to a hut perched along the edge of the Orny Glacier. Enjoy a day truly in the high Alps before descending to Champex. We’ll give you directions for this adventurous detour in your route notes. Stay in a comfortable 3-star village hotel.
Col de la Forclaz/Trient – You have two choices today, the pleasant wooded Bovine route, or the high, rocky Fenetre d’Arpette. For the Bovine, an undulating trail leads through alpine pastures and pine forests, with sweeping views of the Rhone Valley. Stop at the rustic Bovine barn for a drink or snack along the way.
Weather permitting, we’ll also give you a more rigorous possibility leading up to the high pass of Fenetre d’Arpette, one of the highest points along the tour. After climbing, climbing, climbing you’ll reach the narrow Arpette pass – a small notch in a rocky ridge. Descend a steep trail along the Trient Glacier and finish the day at a small hiker’s inn at Forclaz or in nearby Trient. Double rooms available, but fill quickly as the hiking season approaches.
Chamonix – Your final hiking day of the tour is another great one, and a fitting finish to the trip. You’ll cross the Col de Balme into France, coming back full circle to where you begain, with sweeping views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley.
A delightful side-trip to the nearby Posettes ridge leads to even greater views, with a meandering trail leading down through blueberries and alpenrose to the valley floor. Take a local bus for the short transfer back to Chamonix, and spend your last night of the Mont Blanc tour celebrating in there. Dinner included in a local restaurant.
depart – Today you say au revoir, and depart for your post-Mont Blanc destinations. A return shuttle to Geneva is included in your tour.
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