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This itinerary is the most authentic of all. Not only you will walk the whole tour without any bus transfer, but you will stay in accommodation high up in the mountains (mountain huts called refuges and gites when in town or villages).
On this trip, you will share your rooms while you are sleeping in hut and gite. Refuges worth the experience. You share a hearty meal with your co-guests of the evening and sleep in dorms (we always privilege small dorms of 4/6/8 persons when possible). The next morning, you wake up in the middle of the mountain in an environment where you will be the first person of the day to step in, still virgin of other TMB walkers. And of course, this option happens to be the cheapest one with most dinners included.
Located in the French Alps, Chamonix offers a true French European mountain experience with stunning hiking, old Savoyard culture and of course unforgettable views. Towering above Chamonix, Mont-Blanc is the tallest mountain in Europe reaching 4810m, 15,781ft. The views will blow you away.
High point: 2159m
Don’t worry, there are not many trails but only some and they are marked TMB. You are now ready to begin one of the most famous and impressive ascents all over the world for its legends.
As soon as you leave Chamonix, wherever you are look up and you’ll see it there… 4,810 metres (15,781 ft) of rock, snow, ice and dreams of things to come.
High point: Col de Voza, 1653m
Les Houches is located 6 kilometres from Chamonix. This charming village offers mountainsides with tree-lined slopes and impressive views of the Mont Blanc massif and the Chamonix valley.
Just before reaching Col de la Voza, a row of Aiguilles that guard Mont Blanc offers themselves for inspection.
High point: Col de la Croix du Bonhomme, 2483m or Col des Fours, 2665m
At the foot of Mont-Blanc, discover a village quite unlike any other: tradition & authenticity.
By tradition, we mean true alpine values, the respect of local architecture and the surrounding environment. By authentic we mean traditional buildings made of wood, stone and slate. On this stage, the TMB goes right to the head of Val Montjoie and crosses over into the Vallée des Glaciers by way of Col du Bonhomme and Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. Early in the season, snow will no doubt remain in patches between the two cols.
High point: Col de la Seign, 2516m
At this stage, the TMB crosses out of France and enters Italy at the Col de la Seigne, one of the easiest crossings of the circuit, but one which also happens to be among the most scenic. Given reasonable visibility, the view of Mont Blanc and the Aiguille Noire from Col de la Seigne is stunning and is seen at its best early in the morning.
Continue along the valley until Col de la Seigne (3h30). Arrival at the col is an eye-opener – the view is magnificent in all directions. On your left, admire Vallon de la Lée Blanche, guarded by the Pyramides Calcaires. Walk for another 1h30 to reach Rifugio Elisabetta (2300 m), which offers a great view of the Vallon de la Lée Blanche too.
From Rifugio Elisabetta, you have to walk 45 minutes to reach Lac Combal through unspoilt nature and with impressive landscapes, near Glacier de Miage. At the end of the lake, don’t go the way signposted “Val Veni”. Take the right path to Courmayeur towards Rifugio Maison Vieille and Col Chécrouit (1956m – 3h45 from Rifugio Elisabetta).
High point: 2023m
The beauty of the Italian side of the Mont Blanc is breathtaking all year round. Situated at the foot of the Italian side of Mont Blanc, Courmayeur, the Val Veny and Val Ferret are in summer popular with climbers, walkers, bikers and anglers. Nature, flora and fauna are intact. As in the Val d’Aosta, the breeding of cows is very present. Many herds of cattle and sheep also come to spend the summer pastures. The sound of bells will accompany your stay in these times so beautiful valleys. In good condition, this stage promises to be one of the highlights of the Tour of Mont-Blanc. The grandeur of yesterday’s view is matched on this stage along the flank of Mont de la Saxe where an easy, undulating path can be walked at leisure with eyes forever turning to the great wall of rock and ice across the Val Ferret. You could see the impressive and magnificent Grandes Jorasses on your way too.
High point: Grand Col Ferret, 2537m
The crossing of Grand col Ferret takes the TMB out of Italy, into Switzerland and along the eastern edge of the Mont Blanc range. Among the highlights of this stage will undoubtedly be the view from the col looking back, a view partly framed by monstrous buttresses of rock. In the Swiss Val Ferret, the way to La Fouly has other characteristics to enjoy: it has flower meadows and chalets with window boxes bursting with geraniums and petunia; it has milky streams, the clanging of cowbells, neat patches of forest and hamlets that appear to be untouched by passing centuries.
High point: Champex, 1466m
The small village La Fouly, situated in the Val Ferret in the Swiss canton of Valais sits at the foot of Mont Dolent (3,823m) and the Tour Noir (3,836m) in the Mont Blanc massif.
This is the easiest stage of the TMB, and with a modest amount of height gain and loss, the day can be taken at a leisurely pace. Here we experience the pastoral nature of a Swiss mountain valley, where the way of life of the local farming communities appears at first glance to have been barely touched by modern technology.
By TMB: 16km/4h45
By Fenêtre d’Arpette: 14km/6h15
High point: Collet Portalo, 2040m or Fenêtre d’Arpette, 2665m
An idyllic retreat high up in the Swiss mountains, Champex is an ideal location to escape from the pressures of the modern world. Two charming places can be visited: Fort d’Artillerie, a fascinating underground fortress and Les Gorges du Durnand. It curves, dips, and rises over unsettled contours and in and out of indents in the hillside. There are neat meadows, patches of forest, rough combs and high alpine pastures leading to the simple alp buildings of Bovine. The Fenêtre d’Arpette, the highest point reached on the Tour of Mont Blanc, is a true mountain pass and one to enjoy for the sudden extraordinary vision of the upper Trient glacier revealed as you emerge through to the western side.
By TMB: 13km/5h30
By Aiguillete des Posettes: 18km/6h
High point: Aiguillette des Posettes, 2201m or Col de Balme, 2191m
Col de la Forclaz marks the northern extent of the TMB, the furthest point from the summit of Mont Blanc, but this stage carries the route over the final mountain barrier and returns it to the Vallée de l’Arve, which flows at the foot of the Monarch of the Alps. Col de Balme, across which runs Franco-Swiss border, provides the first view, and the lovely snow dome remains in sight for most of the descent to Tré-le-Champ. This is achieved along the crest of the Aiguillette des Posettes, an elevated path with a large panorama.
By TMB: 22km/8h30
By Col des Montets & Lac Blanc: 23km/9h
The final stage of the Tour of Mont Blanc is as varied as any on this walk. It adopts the highly acclaimed Grand Balcon Sud, one of the most scenic of all alpine belvedere paths, which runs along the mid-height slopes on the north side of the Vallée de l’Arve to provide an almost uninterrupted panorama of the Mont Blanc range. At a junction of paths, you discover a cairn which marks a boundary of the “Réserve Naturelle” area of the Aiguilles Rouges. Le Brévent, the high point of this stage, offers a lofty panorama that is as magical as ever.