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. (The TMB trail does not pass through Chamonix itself.) Start with a stiff climb 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 14.4km with 1350m ascent, 70m 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 (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 19.6km with 1000m ascent, 1260m descent
The main TMB route drops to les Chapieux then climbs through the Vallée des Glaciers. A harder alternative, in the absence of snow, crosses the 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 (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 to Courmayeur. This is in some ways the Italian equivalent of Chamonix with an Italian holidaymaking atmosphere.
Hotel in Courmayeur (breakfast)
Many options exist for sight-seeing, taking cable cars via Chamonix and the Mont Blanc tunnel, or activities such as mountain biking. Good day-walks explore the surrounding hillsides.
Hotel in Courmayeur (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 14.6km with 1710m ascent, 895m descent
There is a feel of a new section of the trek beginning as you leave Courmayeur. The goal is Rifugio Bonatti. Our recommended route today is a variant to the main TMB trail, a spectacular but long day over the Mont de la Saxe, making the longest TMB day and with the most ascent. Our routecards also describe the official TMB Armina route which is a shorter traverse of the hillside. The Bonatti hut is an unusually well-equipped and modern building on a terrace opposite the Grandes Jorasses glacier.
Mountain hut (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 20.4km with 970m ascent, 1390m descent
Switzerland beckons today! Our challenge is the climb over 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 (dinner and breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 14.7km with 460m ascent, 580m 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 15.9km with 730m ascent, 920m 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 (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 15.9km with 1140m ascent, 1190m 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 Argentiere.
Hotel in Argentiere (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 9.9km 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 stunning view across the valley to the Grandes Jorasses, the Aiguilles above Chamonix and to Mont Blanc itself.
Mountain hut (dinner and breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 17.3km with 720m ascent, 1605m descent
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 (breakfast)
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!
Make the trip shorter
Our normal 11-stage hike can be made quicker, for strong walkers, taking 10 or even 9 stages. This must involve at least one long stage. It's hard to recommend 8 stages or fewer for a full TMB due to the length of the days and spacing of accommodation along the trail. Please let us know if you’d like a shorter trip and we'll be happy to discuss options. Alternatively, we have the 4-stage TMB South or 7-stage TMB North which are superb trips in their own right. Generally we recommend trekking the normal stages, but fewer of them, than rushing over the TMB. Then complete the rest on a subsequent trip!
Make the trip longer
For those who have more time or simply prefer to walk at a less challenging pace, we can recommend ways to make the trip 12 or 13 stages in total. As the Southern section from Les Houches to Courmayeur is often considered the more strenuous, one option is to add a night at Refuge des Mottets, between Refuge Bonhomme and Rifugio Elisabetta. We can also add a night at Rif. Elena between Rif. Bonatti and La Fouly, for 13 stages in all. (A rest day in Champex or Argentiere is also a great option to extend your trip length, as below.) We suggest that there are limits to how easy the full TMB can be made and that the same terrain needs to be crossed whatever the schedule, so please ask us about your preferred approach and we'll be glad to advise.
Add rest days
As standard we include a rest day in Courmayeur, and this is very much recommended. Courmayeur is a sweet Italian town with some excellent restaurants, bars and gelateria on its pedestrianised high street. Courmayeur also provides a local bus to the Helbronner cable car which is well worth a trip providing the weather is favourable! (This goes over the Vallee Blanche to the Aiguille du Midi and down to Chamonix for a return through the tunnel.) If you would like to add a second rest day, we would recommend taking one in Champex; situated on a lake it provides a peaceful location for a rest day. If a third appeals then Argentiere in the Chamonix valley would be our suggested option. We are also glad to add additional nights in Chamonix before or after your trip. Please ask us for details.
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 leader, please get in touch for more details. Alternatively you might like to join our scheduled 8-person Tour du Mont Blanc (guided) trips which we run at the start and end of Summer.
Tour du Mont Blanc
1 July to 15 Sept 2024
1 rest day
1 rest day
2 rest days
11 stages, 1 rest day
Group of 4
11 stages, 1 rest day
Other group sizes
Please ask us
|Scheduled guided trips||Please see our Tour du Mont Blanc Guided page for full details.|
||Please ask us|
Our classic mix of accommodation aims to give an enticing 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 classic trip includes 4 nights in huts, 1 night in an auberge and the remaining 8 nights in 2* and 3* hotels. We have known the huts and hotels for many years, and have come to know some very comfy, friendly and accommodating places to stay.
2 out of the 4 huts (Rif Bonatti and Rif Elisabetta) on our classic schedule offer 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 these two nights and we will try our best to accommodate that request. The other two huts (Ref Bonhomme and Ref Flegere) offer shared dormitory rooms only. Each room is composed of bunk beds and single beds, usually in 8-12 person dormitories. We suggest staying in all 4 huts if possible, as they contribute to the overall Alpine experience and are the natural stopping points along the route. They also offer a wonderful communal spirit, and are situated in fine high locations.
It's important to note that the large dormitory room at Rifugio Elisabetta, Rifugio Bonatti and Auberge du Mont Blanc in Trient offer sleeping platforms in their dormitories instead of individual bunk beds. Sleeping platforms are shared with other travellers outside of your group (see photo). We try our best to avoid the sleeping platforms when possible, but this is of course dependent on availability at the time of booking.
Avoiding dormitories on the TMB entirely is possible, and would involve – at the first hut - walking further along the trail to an auberge in les Chapieux, or a taxi ride off-route to nearby Bourg-St-Maurice to stay in a hotel. It is also possible to avoid the last hut by taking a cable car off-route to Chamonix, staying in a hotel in the valley. If Rif. Bonatti and Rif. Elisabetta are unable to offer private rooms on your preferred dates, you may need to walk further along the trail to alternative accommodation, or walk off-route slightly to catch a bus into Courmayeur.
For a touch of luxury whilst you trek, our ‘Comfy’ mix of accommodation upgrades your hotels from 2* or 3* to 3* or 4* on 6 nights. We would also swap Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme for an auberge in Les Chapieux as standard, and we swap Refuge de la Flegere to a night in a hotel in Chamonix (reachable by cable car) as standard. You would still stay in mountain huts on 2 nights, where we will try to book private rooms if available. To avoid the huts completely is a little more involved, with travel required to take you off the route (please see above about avoiding dorms). Please ask if you’d like more details.
Our ‘Hutty’ mix of accommodation offers a more basic and economical trip. We include 5 nights in huts (we add Refuge de Miage in place of Les Contamines) plus 3 nights in auberges (we swap your hotel La Fouly to an auberge, and swap Argentiere for an auberge in Tre-le-Champ) and 5 nights in mostly 2* hotels. There are surprisingly few huts that fit within a well-paced TMB, but the route passes some charming auberges that have the character of a hut but are located lower down the mountain. As a result of staying in more huts and auberges, evening meals are included on 8 of the 13 nights, instead of the 6 we include on the classic mix of accommodation.
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.
Our routecards stick to the generally accepted Tour du Mont Blanc route, with some small and scenic diversions recommended such as that to Lac Blanc for views across to Mont Blanc, and the higher Mont de la Saxe variant between Courmayeur and Rifugio Bonatti. We have been walking the route regularly since our first visit in 2005 and we think that these variants are worthwhile additions to a Tour. Multiple options are outlined on your daily routecards, allowing you to pick your preferred route as you go, depending on weather conditions and how you feel on the day.
Our route covers every step of the TMB, from Les Houches back to Les Houches, without the need to use public transport in normal circumstances. As standard, we build in a rest day in Courmayeur after a tough first 4 stages giving you the chance to rest, or indeed you may choose not to do that and instead keep exploring!
Our normal Tour is arranged in the classic anti-clockwise direction, and we prefer this, although over the years we have arranged several clockwise Tours, with the caveat that our routecards are written in the opposite direction! Please ask if this is of interest.
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 and rocky, but mostly the uphill sections are long gradual tests of stamina on good trails. This is complemented by the more relaxing sections of wide tracks through forests, country lanes and zig-zagging hillside paths with some rockier sections to keep you entertained.
There are some small sections of steep, loose ground requiring care, and in a small number of places on the trail you meet with ladders and other aids, such as fixed chains. These should not present a problem to regular mountain walkers and are not via ferrata or climbing sections. All such areas can be avoided by following alternative routes given in your routecards, though these alternatives are often longer and less scenic. In early or late summer, there is a good chance of snow patches lying on the higher paths which will require care, but the lower paths are likely to be snow-free. We provide as much information as we can on snow in our pre-Summer Season Update.
Is it for me?
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a famous trail, often classed as one of the best long-distance hiking trails in the world, and understandably so. The route has a varied mix of accommodation suiting most tastes. It has high rocky passes for a high mountain feel, its villages are characterful, it offers hearty food and it gives delightful walking in the most grand scenery. The result is a tough yet enjoyable holiday and a true taste of Alpine life.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is good for those who have a good overall fitness, some experience of multi-day hikes in the mountains, and the ability to walk for up to 8 hours per day over rocky and sometimes exposed ground. If you are very fit and active day-to-day, then the TMB can also be suitable for those new to multi-day trekking, but good walking experience is still needed. The main challenge of the TMB, aside from the daily distance, is the amount of ascent and descent. Most days comprise a steady ascent to a mountain pass, followed by a descent to the valley bottom and your home for the night.
The route is generally well signposted and waymarked, aiding navigation, although a map and compass will be needed for navigation in case of bad weather, such as low cloud. It is essential that at least 1 person in each group can navigate with a map and compass. We provide you with our routecards, providing detailed descriptions of each days’ walk, along with the topographical maps for the full route.
A level of self-sufficiency on the TMB is necessary as transfer bags (an optional extra) cannot be delivered to the huts. On the nights you’ll stay in huts, you’ll need to carry with you everything you need for that day’s walk and the day after, as your transfer bags will be moved ahead to your next hotel. Not too much food need be carried; there are plenty of huts and chalets along the way. Our routecards show cafes and shops on the trail.
We grade the Tour du Mont Blanc as a Red 3. The TMB is first and foremost a walk and there is no glacier crossing, via ferrata or rock climbing. There are however a few sections of steep and rocky ground which require steady foot placement and, at times, an ability to cope with walking along some narrow and possibly exposed paths. In particular there are three sections on the standard route, all on the two final stages above the Chamonix valley, where metal ladders or steps have been installed to make the route easier across rocky ground. The hardest two of these sections can be avoided by alternative routes, but none of them should present problems to regular hillwalkers.
We explain in your routecards the relative difficulties of the route and the variants. (We try to show relative difficulty so that hikers can make the right choices.) As noted above, beside the distance walked each day, the main challenge is the ascent and descent. 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 can be shortened by taking buses and cable cars and your routecards advise where this is possible. Please ask us for more details!
Tour du Mont Blanc Walking Guide - more about the trail
The making of our Tour du Mont Blanc - photos from our research trips
Your holiday starts and ends in the major Alpine resort of Chamonix, one of the best-linked in the Alps. The most convenient airport is Geneva. Several minibus companies offer transfers from the airport in about 1h 30m, or take the coach or (longer) the scenic Swiss trains via Martigny. Also from the Swiss side, Zurich and Basel airports work but with longer train journeys.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price, and we leave you to arrange your transfers individually. We do however take care to give the most useful notes possible about all travel options. We supply these both on booking in your Trip Notes, and in your info pack which we send out prior to your trip. We also offer personalised tips based on our extensive travels across Europe; please ask us for advice and we'll be happy to help.
- Bespoke accommodation and Itinerary, tailored to your preferences
- Breakfast every morning
- Dinner at the huts and in Les Contamines, La Fouly, Trient and Champex (on 8 nights for our main trip, classic trip)
- Detailed Routecards TMB1-11 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- The 3 French/Italian topographical maps needed (1:25,000)
- 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 during the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in other the towns (this would be 5 nights on our main trip)
- Baggage transfer (available as an extra)
Baggage transferLet us move your bags along the route for you. We offer a baggage transfer service on the Tour du Mont Blanc as an extra, to all stops except the huts. At the huts your bag will simply be transferred to your next hotel.
Alternatively we can drop your bags only at certain stops, and we can advise on leaving luggage in Chamonix while you hike. This is a popular option if spending longer in the Alps.
Tour du Mont Blanc 2024 enquiry form
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
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