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. Enjoy dining out at restaurants in the town centre.
Hotel in Chamonix (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 16.7km with 960m ascent, 800m 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. (The TMB trail does not pass through Chamonix itself.) Start with a stiff climb to Col de Voza (with optional cable cars). The normal TMB route drops through Val Montjoie, but a harder optional high route takes wilder paths over the Col de Tricot. Arrive in the French resort village of Les Contamines.
Hotel or guesthouse in Les Contamines (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 19.7km with 1350m ascent, 960m descent
Today's stage is one of the toughest of our Highlights trip, with an ascent to the Col du Bonhomme, where extensive views open out across the Beaufortain Alps, before a traverse to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme at 2,483m. These high slopes often hold snow early in the season. Descend to the valley for a night in Les Chapieux, or in a hotel in nearby Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
Auberge in Les Chapieux (dinner and breakfast)
Taxi to Hotel in Bourg St Maurice (breakfast and taxi included)
Red 3 (grade) 20.2km with 1030m ascent, 890m descent
After following the remote valley from Les Chapieux to Refuge des Mottets, climb to the Italian border at the Col de la Seigne (2516m), from which Mont Blanc is suddenly revealed again. Descend past the glaciers and rocky spires of the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif to the roadhead at La Visaille, for a bus ride to Courmayeur, in many ways Chamonix's Italian counterpart.
Hotel in Courmayeur (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 16.9km with 1180m ascent, 620m descent
Today's stage is one of the most spectacular on the trail. After a steep climb out of Courmayeur, we follow a traverse of the hillside with stunning views towards the glaciers across the valley. In good weather, we also recommend a harder variant route, a spectacular but long day over the Mont de la Saxe. Drop to the bus stop at Arnuova to return to Courmayeur for the night. (or, take a rest day exploring Courmayeur, or to take the cable cars up into the Mont Blanc massif.)
Hotel in Courmayeur (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 15.2km with 810m ascent, 970m descent
Switzerland beckons today! Leaving Courmayeur on the regular bus up the Italian Val Ferret, our challenge today is the crossing of the Grand Col Ferret (2537m), often holding snow, and then a long descent into the Swiss Val Ferret. We cross another linguistic and cultural frontier. Reaching the small village of La Fouly, we take to the bus again to skip a long valley stage.
Hotel in Champex (breakfast)
Bus to Hotel in Orsieres (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 15.9km with 730m ascent, 920m 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, taking a taxi back to the Chamonix valley in the small town of Argentiere. (A harder alternative, at our Black grade, crosses the Fenetre d'Arpette, a narrow col with exceptionally steep and rocky ground either side.)
Hotel in Argentiere (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 14.8km with 1410m ascent, 560m descent
From Argentiere, our final day takes to the rocky hillsides of the Aiguille Rouges on the North side of the Chamonix valley, directly opposite Mont Blanc. Our route detours from the main Tour du Mont Blanc trail to visit the famously picturesque Lac Blanc, with its spectacular view of the rocky peaks above Chamonix, before traversing the Grand Balcon Sud to Planpraz. Take the cable car down to Chamonix to celebrate in style!
Hotel in Chamonix (breakfast)
Relax over breakfast, see more of Chamonix and depart for Geneva Airport. If embarking on further travels please ask us to advise, whether in Switzerland or elsewhere in the Alps. Congratulations!
Make the trip longer
For those who have more time, we can recommend ways to make the trip 8 stages in total. One option could be to spend a second night in Chamonix at the end of the trip, allowing for another day of hiking between Planpraz and Les Houches (the official end of the TMB). Another, dependent on the availability of accommodation in the small village of Trient, could be to hike the stage between Trient and Argentiere, adding the crossing of the Swiss-French border at the Col de Balme. Pease ask us if you have a particular section of the full TMB you'd like to include on your highlights trip, and we'll be glad to advise.
Add rest days
We book two nights in Courmayeur on our Highlights trip as standard, allowing for you to take a rest day if you'd prefer this rather than hiking stage 4. If you'd like to do both, we're happy to book a third night in Courmayeur for you! You may wish to catch the local bus to the Helbronner cable car, which is well worth a trip providing the weather is favourable! (This goes over the Vallee Blanche to the Aiguille du Midi and down to Chamonix for a return through the tunnel.) We are also glad to add additional nights in Chamonix before or after your trip. Please ask us for details.
Hike with a guide
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and arrangements taken care of. If your group would like a leader, please get in touch for more details. Alternatively you might like to join our scheduled 8-person Tour du Mont Blanc (guided) trips along the full trail, which we run at the start and end of Summer.
Tour du Mont Blanc Highlights
1 July to 15 Sept 2024
7 stages (or 6 stages and 1 rest day)
1 rest day
|Please ask us
Tour du Mont Blanc Highlights
1 July to 14 Sept 2025
7 stages (or 6 stages and 1 rest day)
1 rest day
|Please ask us
Our classic mix of accommodation aims to give an enticing taste of Alpine life, staying in good family-run hotels along the trail (or potentially slightly off-route, depending on availability), and a rustic auberge in Les Chapieux. As standard our classic trip includes 7 nights in 2* and 3* hotels, and 1 night in an auberge (like a basic hotel) which offers a mix of private rooms and dormitory accommodation. We can swap the auberge for another night in a hotel, arranging a taxi off-route to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. We have worked with the hotels for many years, and have come to know some very comfy, friendly and accommodating places to stay.
It can be difficult to include any mountain huts on our Highlights trip, as our shorter itinerary mainly stays in towns and villages rather than high in the mountains to allow access to public transport. Please ask us if you'd like to modify the itinerary to include any huts and we can advise on options, most likely by extending the trip by a night. One option might be to add an extra hiking stage either before or after Courmayeur, and a night at one of the four huts on the Italian side of the TMB trail.
Avoiding dormitories entirely on our Highlights trip is very straightfoward – if there are no private rooms available at the Auberge in Les Chapieux, you can take a taxi to nearby Bourg-St-Maurice to a hotel off route. All other nights on our Highlights trip are in hotels.
For a touch of luxury whilst you trek, our ‘Comfy’ mix of accommodation upgrades your hotels from 2* or 3* to 3* or 4* on 5 nights (we book the same hotel in Courmayeur as our first choice on both schedules). If there are no private rooms in Les Chapieux, we would book a hotel in Bourg-Saint-Maurice as standard on our 'Comfy' trip, rather than booking dormitory accommodation in Les Chapieux. Please ask if you’d like more details.
Single Room Supplement
If you would like to stay in single rooms rather than sharing a double, twin or triple room we add our single room supplement. This covers the additional cost of booking single occupancy rooms. The single supplement is only applied to nights where single rooms are available; in the auberge, we may be able to book single rooms or if not, we will book the smallest room available.
We do not take bookings for solo walkers on self-guided trips. If you are still interested in this trip, we do have availability on our guided trips.
Our routecards stick 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. We have been walking the route regularly since our first visit in 2005 and we think that many of the variants are worthwhile additions to a Tour. Multiple options are outlined on your daily routecards, allowing you to pick your preferred route as you go, depending on weather conditions and how you feel on the day.
Our normal Tour is arranged in the classic anti-clockwise direction, and we prefer this, although over the years we have arranged several clockwise Tours, with the caveat that our routecards are written in the opposite direction! Please ask if this is of interest.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a very popular trail in Summer, and the quality of the footpaths reflects this. The terrain covered can sometimes be steep and rocky, but mostly the uphill sections are long gradual tests of stamina on good trails. This is complemented by the more relaxing sections of wide tracks through forests, country lanes and zig-zagging hillside paths with some rockier sections to keep you entertained.
There are some small sections of steep, loose ground requiring care, and in a small number of places on the trail you meet with ladders and other aids, such as fixed chains. These should not present a problem to regular mountain walkers and are not via ferrata or climbing sections. All such areas can be avoided by following alternative routes given in your routecards, though these alternatives are sometimes longer. In early or late summer, there is a good chance of snow patches lying on the higher paths which will require care, but the lower paths are likely to be snow-free. We provide as much information as we can on snow in our pre-Summer Season Update.
Is it for me?
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a famous trail, often classed as one of the best long-distance hiking trails in the world, and understandably so. The route has a varied mix of accommodation suiting most tastes. It has high rocky passes for a high mountain feel, its villages are characterful, it offers hearty food and it gives delightful walking in the most grand scenery. The result is a tough yet enjoyable holiday and a true taste of Alpine life.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is good for those who have a good overall fitness, some experience of multi-day hikes in the mountains, and the ability to walk for up to 8 hours per day over rocky and sometimes exposed ground. If you are very fit and active day-to-day, then the TMB can also be suitable for those new to multi-day trekking, but good walking experience is still needed. The main challenge of the TMB, aside from the daily distance, is the amount of ascent and descent. Most days comprise a steady ascent to a mountain pass, followed by a descent to the valley bottom and your home for the night.
The route is generally well signposted and waymarked, aiding navigation, although a map and compass will be needed for navigation in case of bad weather, such as low cloud. It is essential that at least one person in each group can navigate with a map and compass. We provide you with our routecards, providing detailed descriptions of each days’ walk, along with the topographical maps for the full route.
We grade the Tour du Mont Blanc as a Red 3. The TMB is first and foremost a walk and there is no glacier crossing, via ferrata or rock climbing. There are, however a few sections of steep and rocky ground which require steady foot placement and, at times, an ability to cope with walking along some narrow and possibly exposed paths. In particular there are sections on the standard route, all on the final stage above the Chamonix valley, where metal ladders or steps have been installed to make the route easier across rocky ground. These sections can be avoided by alternative routes, but should not present problems to regular hillwalkers.
We explain in your routecards the relative difficulties of the route and the variants. (We try to show relative difficulty so that hikers can make the right choices.) As noted above, beside the distance walked each day, the main challenge is the ascent and descent. Although it is possible to shorten some days by selecting different stopping points, the distances are generally dictated by the location of the accommodation along the trail. Some days can be shortened by taking buses and cable cars and your routecards advise where this is possible. Please ask us for more details!
Your holiday starts and ends in the major Alpine resort of Chamonix, one of the best-linked in the Alps. The most convenient airport is Geneva. Several minibus companies offer transfers from the airport in about 1h 30m, or take the coach or (longer) the scenic Swiss trains via Martigny. Also from the Swiss side, Zurich and Basel airports work but with longer train journeys.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price, and we leave you to arrange your transfers individually. We do however take care to give the most useful notes possible about all travel options. We supply these both on booking in your Trip Notes, and in your info pack which we send out prior to your trip. We also offer personalised tips based on our extensive travels across Europe; please ask us for advice and we'll be happy to help.
- Bespoke accommodation and Itinerary, tailored to your preferences
- Breakfast every morning
- Dinner in Les Contamines, Les Chapieux, and Champex (3 nights on our 7-stage 'classic' trip)
- Detailed Routecards from our Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- Taxi journeys from Trient to Argentiere and from Les Chapieux to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, if needed
- The 3 French/Italian topographical maps needed (1:25,000)
- GPX tracks covering our main route
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive Season Update following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Buses, cable cars and any other local transport on the trip not specified above
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the other towns
- Baggage transfer (available as an extra)
Baggage transferLet us move your bags along the route for you. We offer a baggage transfer service on the Tour du Mont Blanc as an extra.
Alternatively we can drop your bags only at certain stops, and we can advise on leaving luggage in Chamonix while you hike. This is a popular option if spending longer in Europe.
Tour du Mont Blanc Highlights Self-guided
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
|Contact Alpine Exploratory
|+44 (0)131 214 1144
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Monday to Friday
|02 8319 2266
|04 889 4515
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