(Tour du Mont Blanc South) Glacier de Bionnassay above Les Houches
TOUR DU MONT BLANC SOUTH (SELF-GUIDED)   4 stages . 5 nights . French and Italian Alps   Booking

Tour du Mont Blanc South
Self-guided trekking holiday

+ Trek from Chamonix to Courmayeur
+ Expert routecards and local information
+ See Mont Blanc from several angles

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.

Walk half of the Tour du Mont Blanc in an exhilarating week's walking holiday. Cross high passes with views of the massif; and cross from France into Italy.

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. Cover 4 of the 11 stages of the Tour as far as Courmayeur, a splendid little Italian Alpine town with much going on. The terrain means that the walking is slightly tougher overall in this Southern half of the route than in the Northern half.

A typical day on trek involves walking up to a pass, then down through meadows and along the valley to the next village. We book your hotels and huts and we give you routecards and maps for the walking. It's a self-sufficient and satisfying type of holiday, full of local interest... and to finish off the TMB, simply come back the following year!

Your accommodation is a mix of valley hotels and auberges, plus one night in a comfortable Italian mountain hut. The variety can be invigourating and your stays give you the chance to meet other trekkers.


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


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

Singles 70
Singles 70
Main TMS
Singles 100
5 stages
1 rest day
(7 nights)
Singles 100
Singles 125

Singles 160
Specialised schedules
6 stages
1 rest day
(8 nights)
Singles 100
Singles 125
Singles 160
Baggage transfer Please ask us


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. Enjoy dining out at restaurants in the town centre.
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. (An alternative is to stay in les Chapieux in the valley.)
Mountain hut

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´┐Że 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.
Mountain hut

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.

Baggage transfer

Our optional baggage transfer takes your bag between stops, to reduce the amount you need to carry. The service runs to all stops except the huts, of which there are 2 on our normal TMB South. (On the hut nights, there isn't much to carry and your bag awaits you at the next hotel.)


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

Add a day
As normal, you end the trip with 1 night in Courmayeur. If you prefer, we can add 2 nights in Courmayeur which give you a rest day plus a daywalk over the fifth TMB stage. Return to Courmayeur by bus. To add one more day, you would finish at La Fouly in Switzerland, for 6 days of walking. Other combinations of stages are possible, for example to spend longer in the Chamonix valley before setting off on trek. If you have a longer or shorter time available, please say and we'll advise on an itinerary to make the most of it.

No dormitories
If you'd like to avoid dorms, please let us know. We can certainly try to book such itineraries for you although it's not always possible due to availability in the huts.

Please let us know if you fancy a more comfortable or a more basic TMB South. 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 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.

Happy clients

"The numerous varieties of flowers and butterflies and lots of sightings of marmots really added to the trip.

"Everything went to plan and we had great weather so we were very lucky."

Suzanne Gilsenan, Ireland
(TMB South)

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Tour du Mont Blanc South
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: TMSsg
Route: The Tour du Mont Blanc
(Walking guide)
(Prefer Guided, North, a full TMB or Weekend?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 4 days' trekking
Start: Les Houches after night in Chamonix
End: Courmayeur in Italy
Typical walk: 17km, 1,100m ascent
Total distance: 73km or 45.5 miles
Highest altitude: 2,584m
Grade: Red3 (Walking grades)

Prices Summer 2020

4 stages, per person:

TMSsg Classic
GBP 720 (singles 70)
Tour du Mont Blanc South (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

The steep descent to Col Sapin in Italy
To Col Sapin (Photo gallery)

Alpine Exploratory's service

Accommodation on our Classic schedule
5 nights, staying in:
3-star hotels (2)
2-star hotel (1)
Mountain hut (2)

Accommodation and itinerary
Breakfasts and 2 evening meals
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards TMB1-4 of the Exploratory system
(5-stage trip: TMB1-5)
Maps and local information

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

Courmayeur's central square
Courmayeur (Photo gallery)

The TMB South in the Alps

Map of the TMB South 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

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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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