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. Start with a stiff climb up 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 in Les Contamines (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 19.7km with 1350m ascent, 960m 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. Leaving the col, the route heads downhill through pastures to the most Southerly point on the TMB route at the peaceful hamlet of les Chapieux.
Auberge in Les Chapieux (dinner and breakfast)
Taxi to Hotel in Bourg St Maurice (breakfast and taxi included)
Red 3 (grade) 14.4km with 1000m ascent, 3700m descent
Climb through the Vallée des Glaciers to Refuge des Mottets and continue up 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.
Mountain hut (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 16km with 540m 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 (breakfast)
Relax over breakfast and explore Courmayeur, before catching the bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Chamonix and travel onwards to Geneva Airport. If you'd like to stay another day (or more!) to explore Courmayeur (or Chamonix), please do just let us know. Or, if you are embarking on further travels in Switzerland or elsewhere in the Alps, again please just ask us for recommendations. Congratulations on the completing the TMB South! ✈️
Make the trip shorter
Our normal 4-stage trek can be made quicker, for strong walkers only, by merging the middle 2 stages into 1 with an overnight at Refuge des Mottets. This is a notably tough hike with 3 long days, so we tend to recommend our classic 4-stage trip to most clients.
Make the trip longer
Making a trip longer is certainly possible and we can do this in a few ways. Perhaps the most popular is to add a stage at the end by walking from Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti, and either spending the night there or dropping down to the road and catching the bus back to Courmayeur. This would make a great 5-stage trek. Alternatively, you could break up the long and solidly uphill stage from Les Contamines to Les Chapieux with a night at Refuge de la Balme. Both options work well so please let us know your preferences. If you are looking for an even longer trip, why not have a look at our 7-stage Tour du Mont Blanc North or Tour du Mont Blanc Highlights trips?
Add a rest day
We don’t normally recommend taking a rest day on this trip, due to the remote nature of the Southern part of the Tour du Mont Blanc trail. Many of our clients enjoy spending additional nights in Chamonix or Courmayeur before or after their hike, so please do just let us know if you’d like to do the same.
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 guide for your trip, please get in touch for more details or view our scheduled guided trips.
Tour du Mont Blanc South
1 July to 15 Sept 2024
|Please ask us
Tour du Mont Blanc South
1 July to 18 Sept 2025
|Please ask us
Our Classic mix of accommodation gives a great mix of family-run hotels in the towns and villages with characterful huts in the mountains, striking a good balance between comfort and the authentic hut-to-hut Alpine trekking experience. As standard, our TMB South trip has 1 hut night, 1 night in an auberge (simple hotel) and 3 nights in 2 and 3* hotels.
Rifugio Elisabetta offers a handful of private rooms as well as shared dormitory rooms. Please let us know if you'd prefer to sleep in a private room on this night and we will try our best to accommodate that request. It's important to note that the large dormitory room at Rifugio Elisabetta offers a sleeping platform, instead of individual bunk beds. Sleeping platforms are shared with other travellers outside of your group. We try our best to avoid the sleeping platforms when possible but this is of course dependent on availability at the time of booking.
There are 2 nights where private rooms are limited on the Tour du Mont Blanc South - at the auberge and in the mountain hut. If private rooms are not available here and you want to avoid dormitories, it is possible to stay in hotels throughout by travelling off route. From Les Chapieux you can take a taxi ride to hotel in nearby Bourg-St-Maurice, and from Rif. Elisabetta you can walk a little further along the trail to catch a bus into Courmayeur for a hotel night.
Our Comfy mix of accommodation upgrades your hotels in Chamonix and Les Contamines from 2 and 3* to 3 and 4*. Instead of Rifugio Elisabetta we suggest an alternative hut, Cabane du Combal. Skipping the huts entirely is possible with travel off the route, so please do ask for details.
Our Hutty mix of accommodation gives 3 nights in huts (we add Refuge de Miage in place of Les Contamines and Refuge de la Croix de Bonhomme instead of Les Chapieux), all in dormitories as standard, plus 2 nights in 2* hotels at the beginning and end of your trip. This gives a more basic and economical trip and is great for those who prefer to stay high in the mountains for more nights. In addition, one more evening meal is included at Refuge de Miage, making 4 in total.
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, and is not applied to hut nights which do not offer single rooms. In the auberges, 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 approach to the Tour du Mont Blanc South
This walking holiday takes you on a 4-day adventure around the Southern edge of the Mont Blanc Massif, starting in Les Houches near Chamonix and finishing in Courmayeur, crossing 3 high mountain passes along the way. Our routecards stick to the generally accepted Tour du Mont Blanc route, with some optional variants such as that which crosses the Col des Fours between Col du Bonhomme and Col de la Seigne. These variants are described on your daily routecards, allowing you to pick your route as you go. For those with limited time this is an excellent introduction to the full Tour du Mont Blanc, and many clients will come back another year to walk the Northern section, from Courmayeur back round to Les Houches.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a very popular trail in summer and the good solid footpaths reflect this. The trail itself is quite varied, comprising wide tracks through forests, the odd country lane, zig-zagging hillside paths and some rockier sections.
The Tour du Mont Blanc South takes you to some higher and more remote locations, where the trail becomes rockier and in places quite exposed, than on the Northern part of the trail. This requires a head for heights and some steady footwork, particularly in descent. In early or late summer there is a good chance of snow patches lying on the higher paths requiring care, but the lower paths are likely to be snow-free.
Is it for me?
The route is generally well signposted and waymarked, aiding navigation, though a map and compass will be needed for navigation in bad weather and it is essential that at least one person can navigate using a map and compass. We provide all of the maps needed, along with our detailed routecards.
A level of self-sufficiency on the TMB is necessary as transfer bags (optional) cannot be delivered to the huts, requiring you to carry everything you’ll need for 2 days on your back. Please do ask us for more detailed information about the options available to you.
We grade our Tour du Mont Blanc South as a Red 3. If comparing the Southern and Northern parts of the TMB, we would say that this Southern section is a little harder, with longer days and more time spent in higher and more remote areas. There are no glacier crossings, via ferrata or rock climbing, however there are a few sections of steep and rocky ground. There is one Himalayan-style wire bridge on the Col de Tricot alternative on the first stage, easily avoided by taking the main route described on your routecard that day.
We explain the relative difficulties of the route and the variants in your routecards, giving you the freedom each day to choose your route and tailor it to your ability. Although it is possible to shorten some days by selecting different stopping points, the distances are generally dictated by the location of the villages and huts along the trail. Some days (but not all) can be shortened or skipped by taking buses and cable cars and your routecards advise where this is possible. Please do ask us for more details.
Your holiday starts and ends in the lively town of Chamonix in France; a hot spot for hikers, mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts. The most convenient airport is Geneva with several transfer options available by minibus, coach or scenic Swiss trains; Zurich and Basel airports also work.
On the return, there are regular buses which run through the Mont Blanc tunnel from Courmayeur to Chamonix, again meaning that Geneva is the most convenient airport to fly out of. 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 do however take care to give the most useful notes possible about all of the available travel options. We supply these both on booking in your Trip Notes and in your info pack. We also offer personalised tips at any point; please do just ask us for advice and we’d be happy to help.
- Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
- Breakfast every morning
- Dinner at the huts and auberges and in Les Contamines (3 nights on our 4-stage 'classic' trip)
- Detailed Routecards TMB1-4 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- The 2 topographical maps needed
- 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
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in Chamonix and Courmayeur (this would be 2 nights on our 4-stage 'classic' trip)
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferLet us move your bags for you! We offer a partial baggage transfer service on the Tour du Mont Blanc South, as an extra, to all stops except the huts. Whilst at the huts, we will transfer your bag to your next hotel. Please contact us for a price or for advice on baggage transfer.
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
|Contact Alpine Exploratory
|+44 (0)131 214 1144
9am to 5pm UK time
Monday to Friday
|02 8319 2266
|04 889 4515
Open to the world
Since Alpine Exploratory started in 2005 we have loved getting to know our clients from around the world. Along with the UK, our best-represented countries are the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Please use our national-rate numbers for a cheaper call to contact our office in Edinburgh.