(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 . 14 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 June 2019
Please ask us about a trip. We still have good availability during our 2019 season; some July and late August dates are busy and we can advise. 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.

Your accommodation reflects life as it's lived in these mountains and is a mix of comfy valley hotels and simple auberges, plus three huts, all chosen for their friendliness and location.


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)
7 July to 15 September 2019
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
12 stages
2 rest days
(15 nights)
1,300
Singles 180
1,520
Singles 275
1,670
Singles 330
11 stages
2 rest days
(14 nights)
1,240
Singles 160
1,450
Singles 250
Our main TMB
1,590
Singles 300
10 stages
1 rest day
(12 nights)
1,120
Singles 120
1,330
Singles 200
1,420
Singles 260
Specialised schedules
13 stages
2 rest days
(16 nights)
1,360
Singles 220
1,590
Singles 300
1,750
Singles 360
9 stages
(10 nights)

990
Singles 125
1,210
Singles 175
1,260
Singles 210
Options
Baggage transfer Please ask us

Itinerary

Here is our normal schedule of 11 stages and 2 rest days:


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 Argentiere
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 Argentière.
Hotel in Argentiere

Rest day in Argentiere
Today is a rest day in the Chamonix valley before the final two stages of the trek. Based in Argentière there are so many opportunities to visit places in the valley or try outdoor activities such as cable cars, mountain biking - or strolling in Chamonix.
Hotel in Argentiere

Stage 10: Argentiere 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.
(Special note for 2019: Please see the details below about La Flegere's closure in 2019 and our good options instead.)
Mountain hut

Stage 11: La Flegere to Les Houches
Red3 grade, 15.5km with 720m ascent, 1570m 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 Brévent 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 Switzerland and 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.


Refuges du Lac Blanc and de la Flegere 2019

Refuge de la Flegere and the Flegere cable car, which we normally use as the break point of the two stages above Chamonix, will be closed for building works for the whole of Summer 2019.

However, we are pleased that both the Planpraz cable car and Refuge du Lac Blanc will be open for the 2019 season. This gives two options. Our standard option will be to walk beyond La Flegere to Planpraz and take the Planpraz cable car to Chamonix. You would then stay the night in Chamonix, before re-ascending the next morning to pick up the route. This gives the most even split of stage lengths and is our recommendation.

As an alternative it is possible to stay at Refuge du Lac Blanc. Please ask us for more details or to discuss your options.


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.


Options

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

Faster treks
Each year many clients ask to complete their TMBs in fewer days. We can recommend itineraries of 9 or 10 stages, and sometimes fewer. Rest days can be skipped too. It's just as valid to take longer over the TMB, for shorter stages and more time to absorb the scenery.

More huts or auberges
As standard our TMBs have 3 hut nights; if you prefer more, we can readily book 5 or 6 nights in huts. It's tricky to complete the TMB entirely by staying in huts, because of their spacing, but with a slightly less even spread of stage lengths we can make your trek almost entirely based in huts or hut-like places. We can also make more use of auberges or dormitory accommodation, for a more basic trip. Please ask us for what you prefer.

Accommodation
Please let us know if you fancy a more comfortable or a more basic TMB. Our normal schedule is a good mix; at certain villages we can adjust your accommodation, booking more auberges or more smart hotels as you prefer. Our 'comfy' itinerary of mainly 3* hotels is a good starting point for many.

No dormitories
If you'd like to stay in fewer dorms, please let us know. We can usually book private rooms at at least one of your huts. To avoid dorms entirely means a hotel in place of at least one hut; we can advise.


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. Two rest days are also built in. 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.


How to get 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 2019

Trip name: Tour du Mont Blanc
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: TMBsg
Route: TMB Tour du Mont Blanc
(See our background page on the TMB)
(Prefer Guided, North, South or Weekend?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 11 days' trekking, 2 rest days
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 2019

11 stages and 2 rest days, per person:

TMBsg Hutty
GBP 1,240 (singles 160)
Book
Tour du Mont Blanc (self-guided)

TMBsg Classic
GBP 1,450 (singles 250)
Book
Tour du Mont Blanc (self-guided)

TMBsg Comfy
GBP 1,590 (singles 300)
Book
Tour du Mont Blanc (self-guided)



Research Summer 2019

People at Alpine ExploratoryPeople at Alpine Exploratory People at Alpine Exploratory



Alpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the Tour du Mont Blanc will be led by:
Hannah Wright in June
Kathy Grindrod in June
Rob Gale in June

Recces 2019

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


Alpine Exploratory's service

Accommodation
14 nights, staying in:
3-star hotels (5)
2-star hotels (4)
Auberges (1)
Mountain huts (4)

Included
Accommodation and itinerary
Breakfasts and 6 evening meals
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards TMB1-11 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information

Season for self-guided treks
7 July to 15 September 2019
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
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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