(Tour du Mont Blanc North) View of Mont Dolent on the stage to Champex
TOUR DU MONT BLANC NORTH (SELF-GUIDED)   7 stages . 8 nights . French, Italian, and Swiss Alps   Booking

Tour du Mont Blanc North
Self-guided trekking holiday


+ Walk one half of the famous TMB
+ Grand Alpine trails high above the valleys
+ Thoughtful advice on itineraries and options


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.

Trek half of the classic Tour du Mont Blanc route over 7 days of Alpine walking. The full Tour is an 11-day circuit of Western Europe's highest mountain; it can be split up very conveniently into two halves, each fitting inside a week's break.

Start in the Italian Val Ferret near Courmayeur and finish in the Chamonix valley. On the way, you pass through all of the Swiss stages and complete the sections in the Aiguilles Rouges above Chamonix, hopefully with some of the best views of Mont Blanc. There are 7 days of walking, each one a stage on the official Tour du Mont Blanc route. The nature of the terrain means that the walking is slightly easier in the Northern half than the Southern half.

This being a self-guided holiday, you're free to complete the walks as you choose: we arrange everything for you, including booking your accommodation and providing you with routecards for the walking, and then it's up to you to carry out the walks yourself.

Your accommodation is a mixture of valley hotels and auberges chosen for their friendly welcome and good location. The range of places visited gives a realistic feel for life as it's lived in this part of the Alps.


Map


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Tour du Mont Blanc North self-guided walking holiday

Prices


Alpine Exploratory
TMNsg Tour du Mont Blanc North (Self-guided)
5 July to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
6 stages
(7 nights)

810
Singles 100
870
Singles 175
960
Singles 230
7 stages
(8 nights)

870
Singles 100
940
Singles 170
Main TMN
1,040
Singles 230
7 stages
1 rest day
(9 nights)
930
Singles 125
1,010
Singles 200
1,120
Singles 260
Specialised schedules
5 stages
(6 nights)

740
Singles 100
800
Singles 120
890
Singles 150
Options
Baggage transfer Please ask us

Itinerary

Here is our normal schedule of 7 stages:


Arrival day: Arrive in Courmayeur
Your trip starts on arriving at your hotel in Courmayeur. This Italian resort has plenty of good dining and a fine location at the head of the Aosta valley.
Hotel in Courmayeur

Stage 1: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
Red3 grade, 14km with 1720m ascent, 890m descent
Leave Courmayeur on the TMB, trekking directly from town with the goal of 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.
Mountain hut

Stage 2: 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 the linguistic and cultural frontier. Once in the valley we reach the small village of La Fouly.
Hotel in La Fouly

Stage 3: 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 4: 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. (An alternative at Black grade is the Fenetre d'Arpette, a narrow col crossing with rocky ground either side.)
Auberge in Trient

Stage 5: 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 Argentière.
Hotel in Argentière

Stage 6: Argentiére to La Flegere
Red3 grade, 10km with 1140m ascent, 510m descent
We start the Tour du Mont Blanc's final two days with hopefully some exhilarating views 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 7: 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 Brèvent 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.


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.


Baggage transfer

Let us move your bags between stops. Please contact us for a price. This service covers your hotels and auberges but not your huts, of which there are 2 on our normal 7-stage schedule. Your bag goes ahead to your next hotel.


Options

We can adjust your TMB North in various ways, as follows:

Miss a day
As normal, you walk from Courmayeur to the first hut. To reduce the trip by one day, take the bus from Courmayeur up-valley, to walk to La Fouly. This is our 6-stage schedule (8 nights including a rest day, 7 nights without). On our normal 7-stage trek it's possible to add a rest day, of course: this gives our 9-night price as above. For a quick dash, our 5-stage schedule involves 2 long days. Or, at our normal pacing, join in La Fouly (Switzerland) and follow the last 5 stages to Les Houches.

No dormitories
If you'd like to avoid dorms, please let us know. We'll advise on the options above Chamonix, where our usual hut is linked by cable car to the valley, and at the hut outside Courmayeur, where we can often book private rooms.

Accommodation
Please let us know if you fancy a more comfortable or a more basic TMB North. Our normal schedule is a good mix; at certain villages we can adjust your accommodation. We can book more huts, or more of our smart family-run hotels.


The route

Our approach to the TMB North
This walking holiday takes you on the Tour du Mont Blanc stages around the Northern side of Mont Blanc, starting in the Italian Val Ferret at Courmayeur and finishing in the Chamonix valley. On the way, you pass through all of the Swiss stages and complete the sections in the Aiguilles rouges above Chamonix, hopefully with some of the best views of Mont Blanc. The terrain means that the walking is slightly easier overall in the Northern half than the Southern half.

Terrain
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 in the Italian resort of Courmayeur and ends in the major resort of Chamonix in France. The most convenient airport is Geneva and we suggest a minibus or a scenic Swiss train, plus the Chamonix-Courmayeur bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Zurich and Basel airports also work. For Courmayeur it is also feasible to take buses from Turin.

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.


Happy clients

Favourite stage? "All stages were beautiful in different ways but we thought the walk from Trient to Argentiere particularly so.

"On the service side, you couldn't have been more helpful. We met two other couples along the way who had done trips with you and everyone commented on how helpful you were and quick to respond to any queries."

David Ng, Australia
(TMB North)

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Tour du Mont Blanc North
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: TMNsg
Route: The Tour du Mont Blanc
(Walking guide)
(Prefer Guided, South, a full TMB or Weekend?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 7 days' trekking
Start: Courmayeur in Italy
End: Les Houches for night in Chamonix
Typical walk: 16km, 850m ascent
Total distance: 108km or 67.5 miles
Highest altitude: 2,537m
Grade: Red3 (Walking grades)



Prices Summer 2020

7 stages, per person:

TMNsg Classic
GBP 940 (singles 170)
Book
Tour du Mont Blanc North (self-guided)



Research Summer 2020

People at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2020 research on the Tour du Mont Blanc will be led by:
Tim Ayriss in June

Recces 2020

Trekkers converge at Col de Balme, a major pass heralding the Chamonix valley
At Col de Balme (Photo gallery)


Alpine Exploratory's service

Accommodation on our Classic schedule
8 nights, staying in:
2 and 3-star hotels (6)
Auberge (1)
Mountain huts (1)

Included
Accommodation and itinerary
Breakfasts and 3 evening meals (Classic trip)
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards TMB5-11 of the Exploratory system
(6-stage trip: TMB6-11)
Maps and local information

Season for self-guided treks
5 July to 18 September 2020
Trek on your ideal dates


The last descent from the Brevent to Les Houches with Mont Blanc in full view
The last descent (Photo gallery)



The TMB in the Alps

Map of the TMB North within the Alps

Our city information included in your info pack:
Geneva, Bern, Zurich

City breaks after trekking



Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our TMB background page

Contact us or use this form:


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Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.
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