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!
Last updated in January 2022
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 ascent/descent. 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.
Are you having trouble booking the huts on the TMB? We are happy to do it for you.
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
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.
Tour du Mont Blanc and Covid-19
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a perfect option to avoid having to stay in overcrowded hotels in coastal countries and to socially distance oneself from others. But obviously, you still will have to spend the night at huts where you will certainly not be alone. In order to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control, the following must be taken into account.:
- Do not visit the Huts if you have symptoms!
- Huts aren't allowed to work at full capacity, so make sure to book your stay in advance
- Bring your own facemask!
- You must bring your own sleeping bag, liner, and pillow cover
- Bring your own travel towel
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.
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.
Stage 1: ARRIVAL IN CHAMONIX - LES HOUCHES - REFUGE MIAGE
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, the Refuge Miage. Here you will be able to enjoy a warm dinner in the dining room overlooking the Domes de Miage.
Ascent: 1350 m
Descent: 879 m
Distance: 14.5 km
The Refuge de Miage is located in the village of St Gervais at 1560m of altitude. Its location is ideal for spending a relaxing afternoon after your first day at the Tour du Mont Blanc. From the refuge, several short walks are possible for all levels of trekkers. Olivier, Céline, and their team offer their visitors warm meals as well as accommodation in private rooms or dormitories.
Stage 2: REFUGE MIAGE - NANT BORRANT
After a nice breakfast at Miage Hut 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.
Ascent: 788 m
Descent: 960 m
Distance: 11.5 km
Refuge Nant Borrant
The chalet of Nant Borrant was built in the 1800s. In 1842, the council of the Commune of Les Contamines gave permission for a mountain hut to be established there. Located 45 minutes walk from Notre Dame de la Gorge, on the itinerary of the Tour du Mont-Blanc and the GR5, you will find at the chalet refuge de Nant Borrant a warm welcome in a friendly atmosphere, to spend a night during your hike or to eat for lunch.
Stage 3: NANT BORRANT - MOTTETS
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.
Ascent: 1241 m
Descent: 1106 m
Distance: 18.2 km
Refuge Les Mottets
Located in the south of the Mont Blanc Range, in a beautiful Glacier Valley, Refuge Mottets stands at an altitude of 1864 m and at the foot of the Aiguille des Glaciers and the Seigne pass. Here you will enjoy the pleasure of waking up in the morning in the middle of the mountains surrounded by a peaceful atmosphere, far from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Stage 4: MOTTETS - MAISON VIEILLE
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.
Ascent: 1249 m
Descent: 1249 m
Distance: 19.9 km
While staying at Maison Vieille you will find yourself surrounded by some of the most fascinating and spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif. From the hut, you will enjoy the views of the peaks and glaciers that have marked the history of mountaineering. Cosy dormitories and relaxing hot showers will help you to recover from all the walking.
Stage 5: MAISON VIEILLE – RIFUGIO GIORGIO BERTONE
Today we descend to Courmayeur. This is one of the most famous places in the world in mountaineering and is the town from which Bonatti undertook his impressive ascent of Mont Blanc in the 1960s. From here, the climb up to Rifugio Bertone is magnificent, and from here the Mont Blanc looks majestic.
Ascent: 760 m
Descent: 770 m
Distance: 9,5 km
Rifugio Giorgio Bertone
Rifugio Giorgio Bertone is one of the classic mountain huts around Mont Blanc, the mountain that was much loved and experienced by mountain guide Renzo Cosson. This hut is named after Giorgio Bertone, mountain guide and close friend of Renzo, with whom he undertook many adventures, most notably the first Italian ascent of the southeast face of the Nose to Capitan in Yosemite Valley. In 1977, fate struck and the Rifugio is a tribute.
Stage 6: RIFUGIO GIORGIO BERTONE - GITE ALPAGE DE LA PEULE
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.
Ascent: 1040 m
Descent: 930 m
Distance: 19,7 km
Gîte Alpage de La Peule
With 65 dairy cows, this classic gite produces raclette and tomme cheeses and typical local mountain pasture butter. Typical mountain dishes such as raclette, fondue and the assiette valaisanne and of course "croûte au fromage" are offered. Swiss hospitality as it is meant to be.
Stage 7: GITE ALPAGE DE LA PEULE - RELAIS D'ARPETTE
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.
Ascent: 720 m
Descent: 1130 m
Distance: 22,5 km
Since 1926, members of the same family have taken turns taking care of this inn. Enjoy a well-deserved stop at this nice hut, have a drink on their beautiful terrace where you can meet other hikers, have a hot meal and rest amidst a beautiful view.
Stage 8: RELAIS D'ARPETTE - TRIENT
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.
Ascent: 1327 m
Descent: 1337 m
Distance: 12 km
Auberge Mont Blanc Trient
Trient is on the unmissable stage of the Tour du Mont-Blanc as well as on the international route between Martigny and Chamonix. Located at the entrance of the village, this Auberge is part of a traditional Swiss setting with its terrace, bar, and restaurant.
Stage 9: TRIENT - TRE LE CHAMPE
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.
Ascent: 1265 m
Descent: 1265 m
Distance: 14 km
Gite Le Moulin
At the foot of the prestigious Mont Blanc massif, between the Tour and Argentière glaciers, in an old mill, the hostel-refuge Le Moulin awaits you. The refuge is located very close to the Tour Col de Balme, just a few steps from the Aiguilles Rouges. The gîte-refuge du Moulin welcomes you for a "mountain relaxation" stay and a quiet night before the last stage of your Tour du Mont Blanc.
Stage 10: TRE LE CHAMPE - CHAMONIX
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.
Ascent: 1290 m
Descent: 1310 m
Distance: 12 km
Short or Half Tour du Mont Blanc
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 Your Tour du Mont Blanc Trekking
It doesn't matter where you are going trekking or for how long. Carrying the right equipment with you is paramount. For the Tour du Mont Blanc you will need, first and foremost, a good backpack. The size of your backpack will depend on how many days you will be spending on the mountain, 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:
- Walking boots (worn in)
- walking socks
- Base layer tops – ideally thermal
- Mid-layer tops (eg. fleece)
- Trekking Trousers
- Hat for warmth or shade
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- Warm layer.
- Casual clothes & footwear for evenings.
- Nightwear and underwear
- Water bottle
- Sunglasses & sun cream
- Small first aid kit
- Blister Plasters
- Insect repellent
- Electrical socket adapter
- Camera and charger
- Map and compass
- Book to read
- Energy snacks
- Walking poles
Enjoying the peace and quiet of nature is one of the pleasures of trekking in the mountains. However, sometimes we need an extra push to keep going. When you feel like giving up, having the right playlist in your bag can help you to get the motivation necessary to reach the top. Here are our top picks for your Tour du Mont Blanc playlist. Don't forget to take your headphones and some extra batteries in your backpack!
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. Check our offers for the Tour du Mont Blanc here and let us do the work for you!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Civil Protection(Italy): 800 319 319
PGHM Chamonix(France): +33 0 4 50 53 16 89
How Much Does the Tour du Mont Blanc Cost?
The price 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.
Where Can I Book My Tour du Mont Blanc Trek?
At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc. We arrange the mountain huts for you and make sure you receive all relevant information well in advance. Find our offers here. If you have any questions about the Tour du Mont Blanc, please contact our trekking experts. They'll be happy to help! Are you looking for other hut tours, have a look at the GR20 on Corsica, the Alta Via 2 in the Dolomites in Italy, the Kesch Trek or the Via Alpina in Switzerland, or the Peter Habeler Runde in Austria.
more like this
Hut-to-Hut Hiking With Kids? Yes! Check Our Tips, Routes and Packing List26-09-2022
Hiking from hut to hut is not the most obvious option for a holiday with the kids. Up and down mountains, say 2,000 metres of elevation gain, a dormitory full of roaring mountain enthusiasts and the inevitable "Are we almost there yet?". -...
Hut-To-Hut Hiking Packing List With Checklist16-09-2022
On a hut-to-hut trek, you don't just take anything with you. Every ounce you put in your bag, you also carry on your back. Fantastic, trekking through the Alps for a few days, but those jeans you're lugging along unused have no use for it a...
Hut-to-Hut Hiking in the Pyrenees: The 4 Best Walks12-09-2022
Hiking in the Pyrenees is the next best thing. Away from the busy trails in the Alps and upwards and onwards to some of the most pristine hiking trails and mountain huts Europe has to offer. With a little bit of French and a little bit of S...