+ Start the TMB by trekking its first 4 stages
+ Strenuous, exhilarating trekking led by your IML
+ Stay in a mix of village hotels and mountain huts
Latest news September 2019
Please ask us about a trip. We are now taking bookings for our 2020 season. Thank you!
The Tour du Mont Blanc is the famous two-week circuit of Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc (4,808m). This guided trek makes a superb short trek in its own right, completing the first segment to Courmayeur.
The route is logical, linking the French side of the mountains to the Italian side. The group soon settles into daily life on trek; and this short taste of the TMB is a fine introduction to the Alps for the fit walker.
Trek in the company of your International Mountain Leader (IML) and your fellow group members, of whom there are up to 8 in total. We keep to genuinely small groups! Each day the group decides its route based on the weather and energy levels. On arriving in Courmayeur, the newly Italian sights and sounds combine with the sense of accomplishment, on this notable short Alpine trek.
The group stays partly in hotels, plus two nights in mountain huts. These high, characterful huts are an invigourating part of the TMB experience.
TMSg Tour du Mont Blanc South (Guided)
7 July to 15 September 2019
Prices in GBP
|Scheduled guided trips|
|Private trips only||
|Private trips only|
|Private guided trips|
Here is our normal schedule of 4 stages:
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 Vall�e 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
Departure day: Depart from Courmayeur
Relax over a great breakfast, see more of Courmayeur and depart. As well as the return through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Chamonix and Geneva Airport, we are superbly placed in Courmayeur to take buses to Aosta, Turin and onwards to Milan. Please ask us to advise.
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 including the South, anyone can opt for baggage transfer. The service drop your bag at all stops except the huts. Our normal South trip comprises two refuges between Les Contamines and Courmayeur, meaning two nights without your luggage. We advise on what to carry and it's quite straightforward.
If you join us as a private group instead of joining our scheduled treks, then we can adjust your TMB South in various ways.
+ Spend more time over the trek, to give shorter days
+ Shorten the trek to 3 stages, or add rest days
+ Trek 5 stages with 1 rest day, replicating our self-guided schedule
+ 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 TMB Souths.
Tour du Mont Blanc South (Self-guided) - look here for all the options
Why Alpine Exploratory for your guided trek?
We trek the full route, missing nothing
Our plan is to walk every step from Les Houches to Courmayeur, missing nothing out. This is an accomplishment in its own right! 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 Les Houches, Chamonix or Courmayeur, 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, trekking the TMB with safety, proficiency and fun.
About us - more about what makes us tick
Our approach to the TMB South
This walking holiday takes you on the Tour du Mont Blanc stages around the Southern side of Mont Blanc, starting in Les Houches near Chamonix and finishing in Courmayeur on the Italian side of the mountain. The terrain means that the walking is slightly tougher overall in the Southern half than the Northern half.
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 major French Alpine resort of Chamonix and ends in the Italian resort of Courmayeur. The most convenient airport is Geneva and we suggest a minibus or a scenic Swiss train to Chamonix. From Courmayeur the bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel gives you the same options at Chamonix, and Zurich and Basel airports are also reachable. From Courmayeur it is also feasible to take buses through the Aosta valley to Turin and onwards to Milan.
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 2019
Trip name: Tour du Mont Blanc South
Dates Summer 2019
Scheduled trips 2019
Private trips 2019
Please join us any time in our season from
7 July to 15 September 2019
Scheduled trips: Starting 4, 18 July, 1, 30 Aug
Season: 5 July to 18 September 2020
Research Summer 2019
Col du Bonhomme (Photo gallery)
Alpine Exploratory's service
The TMB in the Alps
Find out more
Ready to book?
Our booking form to get things started: