+ Alpine scenery from the grand to the tranquil
+ Trek a full circuit of Mont Blanc
+ Led by our International Mountain Leaders
Latest news November 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.
The Tour du Mont Blanc leaves the Chamonix valley to make a spectacular circuit of Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc (4,808m). Trekkers return after 11 days of superb walking having visited Italy and Switzerland en route.
Alpine Exploratory groups walk the full Tour du Mont Blanc route. We don't skip any sections - it's all too good to miss, and we seek the satisfaction of completing the trek in full. We link up the pleasant hamlets and huts that sit along the TMB, as well as stopping in the larger villages and towns of Les Contamines, Courmayeur, Champex and Argentiere.
Trek in the company of a fully qualified International Mountain Leader (IML). Each day the group decides its route based on the weather and energy levels; many stages have alternative trails such as that to Lac Blanc in the Aiguilles Rouges. One rest day is built in, in Courmayeur, letting the group relax after a hard first 4 stages.
Trek in the company of a fully qualified International Mountain Leader (IML). Each day the group decides its route based on the weather and energy levels.
TMBg Tour du Mont Blanc (Guided)
5 July to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
|Scheduled guided trips|
1 rest day
|Private trips only||
|Private trips only|
|Private guided trips|
1 rest day
1 rest day
2 rest days
Here is our normal schedule of 11 stages and 1 rest day:
Arrival day: Arrive in Chamonix
Your trip starts on arriving at your hotel in Chamonix. This is an Alpine centre like no other, bustling in Summer with trekkers, mountaineers and tourists passing through. The group dines out at a restaurant.
Hotel in Chamonix
Stage 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines
Blue3 grade, 19km with 890m ascent, 790m descent
On the first day on trek there is time to make last-minute adjustments to kit and to buy food for the day ahead. Take the local bus or train to Les Houches where the TMB meets the valley. Start with a stiff climb up to Col de Voza (with optional cable cars). The normal TMB route drops through Val Montjoie, but an optional high route takes wilder paths over Col de Tricot. Arrive in the French resort village of Les Contamines.
Hotel in Les Contamines
Stage 2: Les Contamines to Refuge Bonhomme
Red3 grade, 15.5km with 1390m ascent, 60m descent
Today's stage is reasonably tough with an ascent to Col de la Croix du Bonhomme at 2,483m. The ascent is gradual to a first col, after which we traverse to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. These slopes often hold early Summer snow. The Bonhomme refuge is a sociable one just beyond the col. It overlooks the valleys of the Beaufort area.
Stage 3: Refuge Bonhomme to Rifugio Elisabetta
Red3 grade, 21.5km with 1085m ascent, 1360m descent
The main TMB route drops to les Chapieux then climbs through the Vallée des Glaciers. An alternative in the absence of snow is by Col des Fours. The routes meet at the Refuge des Mottets and begin the climb to the Col de la Seigne on the Italian border. We descend to Rifugio Elisabetta (Italy) walking towards the best views of the route so far, obliquely across the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif.
Stage 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur
Red3 grade, 17km with 500m ascent, 1500m descent
The route to Courmayeur is now straightforward but involves a surprising, short uphill section to gain a terrace path. This gives high views of what is now called Monte Bianco. From Maison Vieille we drop steeply to the stone village of Dolonne and then Courmayeur. This is in some ways the Italian equivalent of Chamonix with an Italian holidaymaking atmosphere.
Hotel in Courmayeur
Rest day in Courmayeur
Many options exist for sight-seeing, taking cable cars via Chamonix, or activities such as mountain biking. Good day-walks explore the surrounding hillsides.
Hotel in Courmayeur
Stage 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
Red3 grade, 14km with 1720m ascent, 890m descent
There is a feel of a new section of the trek beginning as you leave Courmayeur. The goal is Rifugio Bonatti. Today offers a long day over Mont de la Saxe, the longest TMB day and with the most ascent, or the normal TMB route which is a fine traverse of the hillside. The Bonatti hut is an unusually well-equipped and modern building on a terrace opposite the Grandes Jorasses.
Stage 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly
Red3 grade, 19km with 970m ascent, 1400m descent
Switzerland beckons today! Our challenge is the Grand Col Ferret, often holding snow, and then a long descent into the Swiss Val Ferret. We cross another linguistic and cultural frontier. Once in the valley we reach the small village of La Fouly.
Hotel in La Fouly
Stage 7: La Fouly to Champex
Red2 grade, 15.5km with 450m ascent, 570m descent
Today's stage is relatively easy for the TMB, running through the valley towards Champex and without any cols to cross. The Tour is now well inside Switzerland, with ready transport links to the Rhone valley to the North instead of deeper into France or Italy to the South. Flower meadows and forests characterise this stage, though interrupted by some narrow sections of path.
Hotel in Champex
Stage 8: Champex to Trient
Red3 grade, 18.5km with 740m ascent, 880m descent
Walk among meadows and woods to Trient, taking the option past Bovine Alp. This is one of the most scenic stages with long views to the Rhone valley. We pass Col de la Forclaz and drop to Trient, now within striking distance of the Chamonix valley.
Auberge in Trient
Stage 9: Trient to Argentiére
Red3 grade, 15km with 1100m ascent, 1160m descent
The highlight of today's walk is reaching the Col de Balme from where there should be views of Mont Blanc (weather permitting) and a great stretch of the Chamonix valley. The end is in sight! Descend from the Col to climb Aiguillette des Posettes before dropping into the Arve valley at Montroc. We detour from the TMB to the busy village of Argentiére.
Hotel in Argentiére
Stage 10: Argentiére to La Flegere
Red3 grade, 10km with 1140m ascent, 510m descent
We keep going for the Tour du Mont Blanc's final two days, with hopefully some exhilarating views across to Mont Blanc. The route traverses the hillside on the North side of the valley. We can visit the famously picturesque Lac Blanc with its view of Mont Blanc. This year, it is not certain if Refuge de la Flegere will be open (as of November 2019). At the moment we suggest taking the cable car to Le Praz and bus into Chamonix for a hotel night in the valley.
Hotel in Chamonix
Stage 11: La Flegere to Les Houches
Red3 grade, 15.5km with 720m ascent, 1570m descent
Take the bus and cable car back to La Flegere to continue the walk. The aim today is Les Houches and the end of the Tour du Mont Blanc. Along the way some of the Tour's best views unfold on the climb to Le Brévent before the long descent to the valley. At Les Houches it is then a short bus ride to Chamonix to celebrate in style! We base your last night in Chamonix, despite it being off the TMB route, in order that you can enjoy the largest and most vibrant base in the valley.
Hotel in Chamonix
Departure day: Depart from Chamonix
Relax over breakfast, see more of Chamonix and depart for Geneva Airport. If embarking on further travels please ask us to advise whether Switzerland and elsewhere in the Alps. Congratulations on the TMB!
Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.
On all our guided TMBs, everyone can opt for baggage transfer or not, as they choose. The service gives drops at all stops except the huts. It's good to have the choice; some of our trekkers like baggage transfer and others prefer not. There is not too much to carry on this route - please ask us for more info.
If you join us as a private group instead of joining our scheduled treks, then we can adjust your TMB in various ways.
+ Spend more time over the initial stages, to ease in
+ Shorten the trek to 9 or 10 stages, or add rest days
+ Trek just half on our North or South routes of one week each
+ Favour auberges or huts or up the comfort with our best hotels
Of course, on a private trip you can come on the dates that suit you. Except for the composition of the group and the dates, everything else is the same as on our scheduled treks.
Why Alpine Exploratory for your guided trek?
We trek the full route, missing nothing
On completing this trek you'll have walked every step of the Mont Blanc circuit. It's definitely something to write home about! Cable cars, buses and trains are available in places, and the group can use them if needed, but the plan is to trek continuously. No part of the TMB is worth cutting out; even the more valley-based sections have huge interest.
Expert knowledge of the route
The same careful research that goes into our self-guided TMBs informs our guided treks too. We keep on top of changes to the route and we place a lot of emphasis on good relations with our hotels and huts. They know us well!
Flexible, personal planning
As per our general ethos, even on our scheduled guided trips we like to be flexible. Single rooms are no problem, except at huts and some auberges where they're unavailable. (The single supplement takes this into account.) If you'd like extra nights in Chamonix before or after the trek, please just ask us.
Small groups expertly led
Alpine Exploratory follows best practice in the mountains. Our leaders are all International Mountain Leaders and we keep to a maximum group size of 8 clients. The aim is a small, tightly knit group with an engaging leader, completing the TMB with safety, proficiency and fun.
About us - more about what makes us tick
Our approach to the TMB
Our route sticks to the generally accepted Tour du Mont Blanc route, with some small and scenic diversions such as that to Lac Blanc for views across to Mont Blanc. One rest day is also built in. Our standard schedule walks the Tour in the popular anti-clockwise direction.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a very popular trail in summer and the good solid footpaths reflect this. The terrain in these parts of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps is sometimes steep but mostly the uphill sections are long gradual tests of stamina. There are wide tracks through forests, the odd country lane, zig-zagging hillside paths and some rockier sections. In a small number of places on the trail you meet sections with ladders and other aids to progress. These should not present a problem to regular mountain walkers and are not via ferrata or climbing sections. All such sections can be avoided by following alternative routes given in your routecards. In early or late summer there is a good chance of snow patches lying on the higher paths, but the lower paths are likely to be snow-free.
How to get there
Your holiday starts and ends in the major resort of Chamonix, one of the best-linked in the Alps. The most convenient airport is Geneva with several transfer options available by minibus or scenic Swiss trains; Zurich and Basel airports also work.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
Key information Summer 2020
Trip name: Tour du Mont Blanc
Dates Summer 2020
Scheduled trips 2020
Private trips 2020
Please join us any time in our season from
5 July to 18 September 2020
Research Summer 2020
Happy TMBers (Photo gallery)
Alpine Exploratory's service
The TMB in the Alps
Find out more
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Our booking form to get things started: