(Tour du Mont Blanc) Col de la Seigne on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif
TOUR DU MONT BLANC (SELF-GUIDED)   11 stages . 13 nights . French, Italian, and Swiss Alps   Booking  Prefer a guided trip?

Tour du Mont Blanc
Self-guided trekking holiday


+ Trek all the stages, completing the whole circuit
+ Start on any date you choose
+ Expert, unlimited advice on all the 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.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a trek of superlatives: the most famous trek in Europe, forming a circuit of Western Europe's highest mountain Mont Blanc (4,808m). Our circuit takes the standard 11 days, starting and finishing in the Chamonix valley.

Tour trekkers are treated to grandstand views of the Mont Blanc massif, but the route never strays from mountain walking terrain. Cross from France into Italy, then into Switzerland and finally back into France. On a typical day your route climbs up to reach a col with wide mountain views before dropping down to the next verdant valley. Here you find the hamlet, village or town that will be home for the night. Our normal schedule also stays in huts for three nights.

Our routecards follow the main Tour du Mont Blanc route, with some optional diversions such as that to Lac Blanc for views across to Mont Blanc. Two rest days are built in, based in Courmayeur and in the Chamonix valley with lots to explore. This holiday misses out nothing from the Tour and you will cover the whole circuit in one very satisfying fortnight.


Map


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

Prices


Alpine Exploratory
TMBsg Tour du Mont Blanc (Self-guided)
5 July to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
10 stages
1 rest day
(12 nights)
1,380
Singles 125
1,480
Singles 200
1,650
Singles 290
11 stages
1 rest day
(13 nights)
1,450
Singles 150
1,550
Singles 230
Main TMB
1,730
Singles 320
12 stages
2 rest days
(15 nights)
1,590
Singles 175
1,690
Singles 250
1,890
Singles 350
Specialised schedules
9 stages
(10 nights)

1,250
Singles 100
1,350
Singles 150
1,510
Singles 230
13 stages
2 rest days
(16 nights)
1,650
Singles 175
1,750
Singles 250
1,950
Singles 350
Options
Baggage transfer Please ask us

Itinerary

Here is our normal schedule of 11 stages and 1 rest day:


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 Vallée 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

Rest day in Courmayeur
Many options exist for sight-seeing, taking cable cars via Chamonix, or activities such as mountain biking. Good day-walks explore the surrounding hillsides.
Hotel in Courmayeur

Stage 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
Red3 grade, 14km with 1720m ascent, 890m descent
There is a feel of a new section of the trek beginning as you leave Courmayeur. The goal is 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 6: 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 another linguistic and cultural frontier. Once in the valley we reach the small village of La Fouly.
Hotel in La Fouly

Stage 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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 Argentiére.
Hotel in Argentiére

Stage 10: Argentiére to La Flegere
Red3 grade, 10km with 1140m ascent, 510m descent
Back on the trail! We pick up the Tour du Mont Blanc for a final two days of hopefully some exhilarating views across 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 11: 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 Brevent 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 in Switzerland or elsewhere in the Alps. Congratulations on the TMB!


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. On the nights on which you stay in huts (4 nights on our normal TMB) your bag goes ahead to your next hotel. We don't suggest that the baggage service is necessary, and packing light (we advise!) can be the finest way to do the TMB. The service is there for all who'd like it.


The route

Our approach to the TMB
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 build in 1 rest day in hCourmayeur after a tough first 4 stages. Our standard schedule walks the Tour in the normal anti-clockwise direction; you can choose to walk it clockwise if you prefer.

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.

Faster or slower treks
Our normal 11-stage trek can be made quicker, for strong walkers, taking 10 or even 9 stages. This must involve one particularly long stage. It's hard to recommend 8 stages or fewer for a full TMB. Going longer, trekkers often ask to add a night at Refuge des Mottets to take 5 stages to Courmayeur, making a 12-stage trek. We can also add a night at Rifugio Elena or at the other hut above Chamonix, for 13 stages in all.

Rest days
Our normal trip has 1 rest day in Courmayeur. This comes after a tough first 4 stages and with 7 to go. If time allows we suggest adding a second rest day, in Argentiere, which is a pleasant base in the Chamonix valley before the last 2 stages. For a third rest day we'd say Champex. Please also consider Chamonix as a base before or after your trek; we can add any number of extra nights. Equally we can take out all rest days for trekkers who prefer to walk straight through.


Where we stay

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

Our normal accommodation
Our Classic mix of accommodation aims to give a broad taste of Alpine life. We mix good family-run hotels in the villages with the auberges and huts that fit the route. As standard our TMB has 4 nights in huts, 1 night at an auberge and the remaining 8 nights in 2* and 3* hotels.

Avoiding dormitories?
In 2 of the 4 huts we have a good chance of booking private 2, 4 or 6 person bunk rooms as fits your group. Please ask us if you'd like us to try. To avoid dorms entirely is possible, but might not appeal given the need to travel off-route by cable car to Chamonix and, the 2 huts mentioned above can't offer private rooms, off-route by extra walking and a bus at 2 points. There are plenty of ways to make a trip work and we can advise based on your preferences. We suggest staying in all 4 huts if possible because they contribute to the Alpine experience and are natural to the route.

More huts or auberges?
Our Hutty mix gives 5 nights in huts (we add Refuge de Miage) plus 3 nights in auberges (we add Champex and Tre-le-Champ) and 5 nights in 2* and 3* hotels. This gives a more basic and economical trip. There is a surprisingly low number of huts that fit within a well-paced TMB, but the route passes some charming auberges that have the character of a hut.

Smarter hotels?
Our Comfy mix upgrades the two 2* hotels to 3* (Chamonix and Les Contamines), upgrades one of the 3* hotels to 4* (Courmayeur) and stays in an auberge in les Chapieux instead of the Refuge Bonhomme. You would still stay in 3 huts. To skip more huts, please see above about avoiding dormitories, which applies to all trips.


Getting there

Your holiday starts and ends in the major resort of Chamonix, one of the best-linked in the Alps. The most convenient airport is Geneva with several transfer options available by minibus or scenic Swiss trains; Zurich and Basel airports also work.

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

In Courmayeur: "Really great breakfasts, I mean amazing choices from fruit custard tarts, fruit salad, muesli, meats, cheeses. A perfect choice.

"A very well organised, efficient, helpful and reliable organisation. Whole trip very well researched and up to date. Great and useful route cards that allowed us choice depending on weather. Good maps. To be commended."

Nicki Spicer, UK
(Tour du Mont Blanc)

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Tour du Mont Blanc
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: TMBsg
Route: The Tour du Mont Blanc
(Walking guide)
(Prefer Guided, North, South or Weekend?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 11 days' trekking, 1 rest day
Start: Les Houches after night in Chamonix
End: Les Houches for night in Chamonix
Typical walk: 16km, 1,000m ascent
Total distance: 180km or 112 miles
Highest altitude: 2,580m
Grade: Red3 (Walking grades)



Prices Summer 2020

11 stages and 1 rest day, per person:

TMBsg Classic
GBP 1,550 (singles 230)
Book
Tour du Mont Blanc (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

Crossing a rocky stream on the TMB
Crossing a rocky stream (Photo gallery)


Alpine Exploratory's service

Accommodation on our Classic sechedule
13 nights, staying in:
2 and 3 star hotels (9)
Auberges (1)
Mountain huts (3)

Included
Accommodation and itinerary
Breakfasts and 5 evening meals (our Classic trip)
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards TMB1-11 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information

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


Rifugio Bonatti, a fine Italian hut on the Tour du Mont Blanc
Rifugio Bonatti (Photo gallery)



The TMB in the Alps

Map of the TMB 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 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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