Tour du Mont Blanc Hike: All You Need To Know

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Tour du Mont Blanc Hike: All You Need To Know
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The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the most famous trekking adventures available in Europe. When talking about mountain trekking, most people think about trekking in Nepal or climbing higher peaks like Mount Kilimanjaro. However, there are options to go trekking closer to home. In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need for this adventure, from the difficulty of the trails, the accommodation along the way, a recommended itinerary for self-guided Tour du Mont Blank hikes, the cost and more!

Today we will introduce you to the majestic Mont Blanc, one of the most stunning massifs in Europe and a great adventure for those looking for some nature and fresh air. From stunning mountain views and snow-capped peaks to small and picturesque towns, this hike will leave you wanting more! Find out all you need to know about this European trekking adventure. Are you ready? Let's go!

Where Is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

This hike is one of the most famous in Europe and it crosses 3 countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland. The famous Tour du Mont Blanc is a 170-kilometer long circuit, which encircles the Mont Blanc massif and has 10 kilometers of elevation change. The trek can be completed in 7 to 11 days, depending on the route and physical condition. A part of the Tour du Mont Blanc shapes the Walker's Haute Route as well.

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Tour du Mont Blanc: Difficulty and Map

As we explained above, the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit is 170 kilometers long and has over 10 km vertical gain and loss. This means that the trek is definitely not a walk in the park. Although the route can be completed by almost anyone, if you are not used to this type of activity or if you don't do exercise regularly, chances are you won't enjoy it that much. In order to have a good experience and make the most out of this adventure, we recommend getting ready for it. You can start a couple of months in advance, climbing stairs, going for walks daily, and trying your trekking boots and backpack in advance. Remember that you will be walking 6 to 8 hours a day for at least a week, never underestimate such an expedition. On the Tour du Mont Blanc there's lots of uphill hiking and you will not always like it! 

Accommodation on the Tour du Mont Blanc: Refuges or Hotels

The accommodation options on the Tour du Mont Blanc are quite varied. On the route, you will find, in all countries, cosy mountain huts or refuges where to spend the night. Most of these huts offer a more affordable option, which involves sleeping with other trekkers in shared dormitories, and more expensive alternatives, where you can choose to have a private room. If you want a more luxurious option, you can choose to sleep in hotels in the towns close to the route.

Most huts offer a half-board pension, which includes breakfast and dinner. We highly recommend choosing this option. Having a warm meal waiting for you at the hut is not only a great way to end a long day of hiking, but it will also make your luggage lighter. Carrying your own food during the trek will mean extra weight on your back.

Accommodation on the Tour du Mont Blanc: Refuges or Hotels

What Is the Best Season for the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The best time to complete the Tour du Mont Blanc is during the summer months, July and August, when the route has little snow and the weather is usually good. Outside these months, the logistics get more complicated because many of the hostels and mountain huts on the route are closed. If we had to recommend a more specific time, it would be the second half of August. During these 2 weeks, the number of trekkers and mountaineers is lower and the weather is usually quite pleasant.

Did you know that we can book all huts and refuges for the Tour du Mont Blanc for you? Check out all our options here.

Tour du Mont Blanc Itinerary and Route

This is a 10-stage itinerary, during which you will cross 3 countries and you will walk around 170 kilometres. On the way, you will visit the valleys of Chamonix, Miage, and Les Contamines. Moreover, you will visit Lac Blanc and cross the Bonhomme Pass. This itinerary follows the classic route and makes sure that you don't miss any of the highlights of this wonderful trek.

Day
1

From Chamonix / Les Houches to Auberge du Truc

Duration: 06:45 h
Distance: 14.8 km
Ascent: 1410 m
Descent: 700 m
After making your way from Chamonix to Les Houches by bus, you will make your first steps uphill towards the Col de Voza, from where we can admire the ascent to the Mont Blanc through the Gouter refuge. After walking past the Bellevue hotel you will continue to the Bionnassay glacier. The hanging bridge over the drainage of this glacier is perhaps one of the great steps of the Tour. From here we will ascend the Col de Voza where you will already see our accommodation. Here you will be able to enjoy a warm dinner in the dining room.

Auberge du Truc

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Auberge du Truc
Day
2

From Auberge du Truc to Refuge De La Balme

Duration: 04:15 h
Distance: 11.5 km
Ascent: 560 m
Descent: 590 m
After a nice breakfast and taking the last pictures of the Domes, we will go to the Chalet du Truc and go down towards Les Contamines-Montjoie. The valley is certainly spectacular and the views towards the Mont Blanc massif and down the valley are certainly memorable. Once in the valley, we will go up towards Notre Dame de la Gorge and reach our refuge. This day allows a variant in case of good weather for the refuge of Tre la Tete and the glacier of the same name.

Refuge de La Balme

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Refuge de La Balme
Day
3

From Refuge de La Balme to Refuge des Mottets

Duration: 08:30 h
Distance: 16.9 km
Ascent: 1130 m
Descent: 940 m
The first ascent of the day takes you to the Col de Bonhomme and the Croix de Bonhomme. This pass marks the abandonment of the valley of Les Contamines and the passage towards the southern zone where you can already sense your crossing to Italy. From here you will visit the refuge of the Croix de Bonhomme. The views of the Gran Paradiso National Park are impressive and the descent towards le Champieux is very entertaining. A short break in le Champieux and you will head towards your refuge for the night, Les Mottets.

Refuge des Mottets

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Refuge des Mottets
Day
4

From Refuge des Mottets to Rifugio Maission Vieille

Duration: 08:40 h
Distance: 18 km
Ascent: 990 m
Descent: 990 m
Our first hill of the day, the Seigne, takes you to Italy. The gentle descent towards the Elisabetta Soldini refuge and Lake Combal allows you to enjoy the view of Mont Blanc and its southern face. The Miage and Brenva glaciers and the impressive Peuterey needles accompany you all day long. Your accommodation is on a hill. The sunset with Mont Blanc in the background will no doubt have been worth it.

Rifugio Maison Vieille

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Rifugio Maison Vieille
Day
5

From Rifugio Maission Vieille to Rifugio Gio Bertone

Duration: 04:30 h
Distance: 9.3 km
Ascent: 760 m
Descent: 770 m
Welcome to Courmayeur. This is one of the most famous places in the world of mountaineering and is the place from which Bonatti undertook his impressive ascent of Mont Blanc in the 1960s. From here, the ascent to the Rifugio Giorgio Bertone mountain hut is magnificent. From here you get a phenomenal view of Courmayeur and of course Mont Blanc.

Rifugio Gio Bertone

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Rifugio Gio Bertone
Day
6

From Rifugio Gio Bertone to Gite Alpage de La Peule

Duration: 08:45 h
Distance: 20.7 km
Ascent: 1090 m
Descent: 990 m
Today, you should have a good breakfast, because one of the great climbs of the Tour, the Col Ferret, awaits you. First, you hike to Rifugio Bonatti, named after the legendary climber. From here, it takes about 3 hours to cross the col and reach the Swiss Val Ferret. The view of the Grand Combin is breathtaking. You will spend the night in Gîte Alpage de La Peule, just before you descend to La Fouly.

Gite Alpage de La Peule

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Gite Alpage de La Peule
Day
7

From Gîte Alpage de La Peule to Relais D’Arpette

Duration: 07:50 h
Distance: 22.3 km
Ascent: 680 m
Descent: 1090 m
Welcome to Switzerland. Today, you have a fairly mild hike scheduled, from La Fouly to Champex, an idyllic spot in the Swiss Alps. Here you can enjoy the peace and have the opportunity to walk along the shores of the beautiful Lake Champex. You will spend the night at the foot of the Fenêtre d'Arpette, in the Relais d'Arpette of the same name.

Relais D'Arpette

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Relais D'Arpette
Day
8

From Relais D'arpette to Auberge Mont Blanc

Duration: 06:55 h
Distance: 15.7 km
Ascent: 730 m
Descent: 1090 m
The Fenetre de Arpette with its almost 2700 meters is the highest pass of the Tour. Its ascent is hard, but the views are worth it as, on the other side, you will find the Trient glacier and the Aiguille du Tour. The descent to the Chalet des Glaciers and the village of Trient is through a beautiful forest surrounded by fir trees. Note: Fenêtre d'Arpette is not a must, there is an easier alternative route to Trient.

Auberge Mont Blanc

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Auberge Mont Blanc
Day
9

From Auberge Mont Blanc to Gîte Le Moulin

Duration: 06:50 h
Distance: 14.6 km
Ascent: 1090 m
Descent: 1020 m
The Col de la Balme is not only the border between Switzerland and France but also the passage that takes us back to the Chamonix Valley from the opposite end to where we left it. From the top, you have an impressive view of Mont Blanc, the Dru, or the Aiguille du Chardonett. From here we go down to Tre la Tete by the Aiguille des Posettes.

Gite Le Moulin

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Gite Le Moulin
Day
10

From Gîte Le Moulin to Chamonix

Duration: 06:40 h
Distance: 13.9 km
Ascent: 1280 m
Descent: 600 m
The so-called southern balcony is a well-known excursion for all visitors to Chamonix, but we will take it from Tre la Tete. The climb is easy and in the end, you will enjoy the views from the Lac Blanc, one of the most beautiful memories of the trek. You can have lunch at the Lac Blanc refuge and from here you will go directly to Chamonix. You can spend the rest of the afternoon in Chamonix and in the evening you can try a typical Savoyard dinner.
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Tour du Mont Blanc short or long: Which option to choose?

Are you short on time or don't have the legs to hike the Alps for more than a week? No problem. Because the towns of Chamonix and Courmayeur are connected by the majestic Mont Blanc Tunnel, it's easy to just do half of the route. It is possible to start in any town along the route, but most people start in Chamonix. From Chamonix, you can hike in 5 days to Courmayeur, following the trails on the Western side of the Mont Blanc with highlights like the Bionassay glacier, Croix du Bonhomme, and Mottets.

Find our 5-day Western Tour du Mont Blanc option here.

One can also start in Courmayeur. This will take you East across the infamous Col Ferret to Switzerland. From here you can do Fenetre d'Arpette to get back to Chamonix. This will take you 6 days. Both shorter options are not necessarily easier, but definitely shorter. When availability becomes an issue on the Western side, the Eastern route can also be a great outcome.

Find our 6-day Eastern Tour du Mont Blanc option here.

Packing List for the Tour du Mont Blanc

It doesn't matter where you are going trekking or for how long: Carrying the right equipment with you is paramount. For a hiking trip in the mountains, you will need, first and foremost, a good backpack. Its size will depend on how many days you will be spending in the mountains, the season, and the clothes you will be taking with you. We have prepared a packing list with some essential clothing that you should include and some extras that you may find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

Starting Points for the Tour du Mont Blanc Hike

Since the Tour du Mont Blanc is a circular route, there are many starting points on the route. The most common, by far, is Chamonix or the nearby town of Les Houches on the French side. However, you can also choose to start at any of the other main towns en-route, like Les Contamines in France, Courmayeur in Italy, or Champex in Switzerland.

To get to Chamonix, you can fly to Geneva and hire a transfer in advance to take you to this Alpine city. Transfers leave directly from the airport and are located as you leave the arrivals gate. You can travel within the valley between Chamonix and Les Houches on a local bus.

At Bookatrekking.com, we not only book your huts, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your Tour du Mont Blanc, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turn your dreams into reality.

How to Get To Chamonix?

Fortunately, getting to Chamonix is quite easy. Chamonix is located only 103 kilometres away from Geneva international airport, the second-largest airport in Switzerland. There are several transport options for you to get to this beautiful city depending on where you are departing from.

By Plane

Flying is the most convenient and fastest way to get to Chamonix. Although the Geneva international airport is indeed the closest one, you can also fly to Chambery Airport, Turin Airpot, or Lyon Airport. Being Geneva's biggest airport in the area, it has more flight options available from more destinations than the other airports do. Also, from Geneva, you can take a direct shuttle from the airport to Chamonix.

By Car

If you are in France already or in any country near Chamonix, you can drive there. The extensive network of European motorways makes it easy to reach Chamonix by car.

By Train

There is a train station right in the centre of the city. Travelling to Chamonix by train isn't necessarily the easiest or fastest option, but it is definitely the one with the least impact on the environment. On your way to Chamonix, you will have to change trains a few times along the way. The silver lining is that you are allowed to carry more luggage without additional charges.

By Bus

Coach or long-distance buses are another option to get to Chamonix. The good thing about these buses is that they tend to be quite cheap and are more environmentally friendly than flying. If you choose this option, however, you must know that the seats can be quite uncomfortable and the ride takes the longest of all the options.

Tour du Mont Blanc: Self-Guided or With a Guide?

You can do the Tour do Mont Blanc guided or self-guided, it is up to you. If you decide to go with a guide, you will have the accommodation and meals arranged for you and you won't have to worry about planning every stage of the route. Most importantly, there is no chance of you getting lost. That being said, the truth is that the trails on the Tour du Mont Blanc are very well marked and signposted. If the weather is clear and you follow the road, the chances of getting lost are very limited. As regards the weather, it can get quite foggy in the afternoons, so make sure to have a map, a compass (and know how to use it), and a whistle just in case.

It is possible to do the Tour du Mont Blanc without a guide and most trekkers choose this option. If you want to go on a self-guided trek, make sure you get all the accommodation booked in advance and you plan your steps wisely, making sure that every stage of the trek makes sense and is achievable. If you want to go on a self-guided trek but you want some assistance with the planning, we can help you out. On Bookatrekking.com we offer self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc treks where we take care of arranging the itinerary and accommodation for you. That way, your only concern will be enjoying the views along the way. Find out all our options here.

Tour du Mont Blanc: Self-Guided or With a Guide?

What to Do in Case of an Emergency?

A situation is defined as an emergency whenever human life (yours or someone else's) is endangered and there is nothing you can do to resolve the matter. You should call for help if there has been an accident, if there is somebody trapped, if you got lost or in trouble and are unable to continue because of the time of day or weather conditions, or if you are trapped because of technical climbing challenges that exceed your capabilities.

The most important thing to do in an emergency is to stay calm and survey the situation. Do not panic or take useless risks if the people in trouble are difficult to reach. In an emergency, first and foremost, call for assistance. When calling for help, make sure to provide your location and the number of victims and type of injuries. Then, protect the victim from cold and other environmental threats and administer first aid, if you can.

Useful emergency phone numbers

  • Italy: 118 / 112 / 800 319 319 (Civil Protection)
  • France: 112 / +33 0 4 50 53 16 89 (PGHM Chamonix)
  • Switzerland: 144

How Much Does the Tour du Mont Blanc Cost?

The prices for the Tour du Mont Blanc are quite varied. The full circuit usually ranges between EUR 900 / USD 1020 and EUR 2800 / 3175 USD. There are several variables to take into account when it comes to how much this trek costs: the type of accommodation, which can be in a shared dormitory or a private room in a hut, or also at a hotel in a town; How many days you will be spending on the mountain and whether you will be doing the full circuit or only a section; whether you will be doing it self-guided or with a guided group. The price of the trek will depend on your expectations for the tour.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Tour du Mont Blanc with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

Safe hiking tips for the Tour du Mont Blanc

When you go on walking holidays it is wise to be aware of a few points. Even if this is not your first time, you should never underestimate the mountains. Good tour planning and compliance with the regulations on the mountains will significantly increase safety. To ensure that your hiking holiday is a safe and enjoyable experience, here below you can find a list of 8 recommendations for safe hiking in the mountains:
  • Know your limits

    Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc is the perfect outlet to escape from daily life. It is an endurance sport along with a beautiful nature experience with a positive effect on body and mind —as long as one is in good shape and has a realistic picture of one's possibilities and limits—. Never overestimate yourself or underestimate the route. Don't overdo it! Always choose the slower variant and take more time for your plans. Hiking under time pressure is not fun and at too fast a pace it can be dangerous. Be wise!

  • Plan carefully

    Good planning is half the work! Hiking maps, literature, the Internet and expert advice are invaluable when planning the route in the Tour du Mont Blanc and enable you to determine the length, altitude difference, difficulty and conditions of the hike. When planning group treks, the itinerary should always be planned for the weakest member of the group! The weather in the mountains can change incredibly quickly and rain, wind and cold all increase the risk factor. For this reason, always check the weather forecast beforehand and contact our trekking experts to find your way around before you start.

  • Be fully equipped

    Equipment is everything. In the most extreme case, it makes the difference between life and death, and in any case, it definitely makes the difference between having fun and having a bad time. Food and water, sunscreen and waterproof and warm clothes must always be in your backpack, as well as a first aid kit and a mobile phone with a full battery (in case there is an emergency). However, packing light makes walking easier, so don't take too much extra luggage with you. Your equipment should always be suitable for the terrain you'll be hiking on in the Tour du Mont Blanc.

  • Wear suitable footwear

    Good walking shoes protect your feet and provide a better fit. Shoes with a good fit, with non-slip soles, water-resistant and lightweight are a must for additional walking pleasure during the Tour du Mont Blanc. Trail running shoes are great for a weekend in the mountains, but on longer hikes or more technical trails, you'll want at least A/B hiking boots. That means it is recommended wearing high mountain shoes that are water-repellent with extra ankle support to prevent sprains.

  • Stay on marked trails

    Tour du Mont Blanc has endless marked hiking trails, which are controlled and maintained and should not be deviated from. It may be tempting, but it's not a good idea to take shortcuts or alternative routes through unmarked terrain. It increases the risk of disorientation and you're more likely to get lost and have accidents or fall in the mountains. Even steep slopes of packed old snow are often underestimated and dangerous. Are you in doubt? Better don't do it. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you. FYI, 75% of stumbles occur due to carelessness on marked paths or roads, not in open terrain!

  • Take regular breaks

    Remember you're on a hiking holiday. Timely and regular breaks not only provide welcome relaxation but also make it possible to enjoy the Tour du Mont Blanc. The body needs a regular food and drink intake to maintain performance and concentration. Our advice is that if you have little time, it's better to follow the short itinerary than to speed up the long one.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Tour du Mont Blanc.

  • Respect nature

    Leave no rubbish behind, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the Tour du Mont Blanc?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Tour du Mont Blanc not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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