(Inn-to-inn hiking tour)
Length: 11 days, 10 nights in village hotels and mountain inns
Hike Rating: Strenuous, 5-8 hours/day, 2500'-4500' elevation gain/loss
|2013 Departure: || Private or Self-guided only|
See our Mont Blanc photo gallery
The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is one of the great hiking tours in the world. On this guided TMB tour, we'll cross numerous passes and trek through 3 countries - France, Italy, and Switzerland - as we circumnavigate Mont Blanc, at 15,781 ft, the highest mountain in the Alps. We'll hike through spectacular valleys and stay in a combination of 3-star village hotels and remote inns. The Tour du Mont Blanc is truly an epic trek - a great opportunity to meet hikers from around the world and enjoy an rich variety of cultures, cuisines and views. In keeping with the adventurous nature of the tour, we've designed a fairly rustic itinerary, and five of our nights will be spent in traditional gites with shared sleeping rooms, lively atmospheres, and a healthy sense of accomplishment. Showers are available every night, and as always, our village hotels feature private rooms and bathrooms. Luggage is transported separately and you will have it with you for five of the ten nights. Note, the single room supplement is for a single room on 5 nights only, nights 1,3,5,6 and 10.
Our typical day on the Tour du Mont Blanc starts with a continental buffet breakfast at our inn,
and soon we'll be out on the trail for 6-8 hours of inn-to-inn hiking. With many passes to cross, the hiking is often strenuous, but there will also be opportunities for easier days. In contrast to many guided tours of Mont Blanc, our tour will go clockwise, hiking from Chamonix first into Switzerland and then south through Italy before coming back up to Chamonix. This allows us to start out with some of the easier days first, with the second half of the trip featuring slightly longer, more strenuous hikes.
We should finish our daily hikes around 4-5 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax, and enjoy views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding scenery. After that, we'll enjoy dinner together at our inn or a local restaurant. These are multi-course feasts, featuring delicious local French and Italian specialties. A hearty meal and good conversation provide a satisfying end to our day. We will leave one dinner in Courmayeur free, so you will have a chance to explore on your own.
With 3 countries filled with soaring mountains, lofty passes, and gorgeous trails, the Tour du Mont Blanc is an exhilarating trek that lives up to its world-class reputation.
Day 1 Arrive in Geneva, and transfer by airport shuttle to Chamonix, the world-famous resort and mountaineering center in France. Enjoy your first impressive views of Mont Blanc, with perhaps time to relax at the pool and outdoor patio of our charming Chamonix hotel before meeting the group for dinner. (Hotel les Aiglons)
Day 2 We'll begin our Mont Blanc tour with a shuttle ride to le Tour at the end of the valley, where we climb through flowery meadows to the Balme pass on the border with Switzerland. Enjoy gorgeous views of Mont Blanc and the entire Chamonix valley as we cross the pass and descend to our small hiker's inn at Col Forclaz. (Hotel Col de la Forclaz)
Day 3 The next stage on the TMB takes us through woods and farms with sweeping views of the Rhone valley. Weather permitting, a more rigorous possibility leads to the Fenetre d'Arpette with famous views to the Trient glacier, a popular variant on the traditional TMB route. We'll stay in the pretty lakeside village of Champex, one of Switzerland's hidden gems, and a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. Our luggage be waiting at our 3-star village hotel. (Hotel Glacier)
Day 4 A quick bus ride brings us to our trailhead at the base of the Swiss Val Ferret. Hiking up from here, we'll cross the Grand Col Ferret and into Italy. The Italian side of Mont Blanc is is steeper and rockier, and the Grand Jorasses rivals Mont Blanc as the focal point of our views. High cliffs draped with glaciers accompany us along the route to Bonatti hut, a beautiful inn perched high in the mountains with small dorm rooms. (rifugio Bonatti)
Day 5 One of the highlights of the TMB is stunning walk along the crest of the Mont de la Saxe ridge, with the vertical cliffs of Mont Blanc and the Grande Jorasses towering above us to the west. While the ridge itself is a strenuous hike, a more moderate option follows a mid-level traverse of the ridge accompanied by incredible views throughout the day. We'll continue on through gorgeous landscapes to the medieval village of Courmayeur, with narrow, cobblestoned alleyways and a lively, pedestrian-only core. Our luggage will be waiting for us at our 3-star village hotel. (Hotel Bouton d'Or)
Day 6 A second day in Courmayeur gives you a chance to either rest up or take an optional dayhike high above town. Courmayeur is an extremely atmospheric village, with cafes, bakeries, gelaterias, and stylish shops. It's great for people-watching and relaxing. Or take the cablecar high above the valley to the upper reaches of Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco in Italian) for close-up views of the highest peaks in the alps. Or spend an afternoon hiking to the comfortable outdoor restaurant terrace at Col Checrouit, with great food and unbeatable views. The options are plentiful! Dinner will be on your own tonight in Courmayeur. (Hotel Bouton d'Or)
Day 7 The second half of the Tour du Mont Blanc is slightly more rugged, with longer hikes and three consecutive nights in mountain inns. The trail today leads us from Italy back into France, with a crossing of the Col de la Seigne pass, enjoying jaw-dropping views back into the Veny valley and along the length of the Mont Blanc range. The Aiguille Noire de Peuterey is particularly impressive from this vantage point, as is Mont Blanc itself. We'll continue on through quiet, pastoral landscapes into the Valle de Glaciers, and stay in a popular hiker's inn along the valley floor (Hotel de la Nova or les Mottets)
Day 8 We continue the TMB tour with a long, steady ascent across two lofty passes, Col de la Croix du Bonhomme and Col du Bonhomme. After lunch near the pass, we'll descend to the delightful Nant Borrant refuge, a small flower-covered inn with a charming outdoor terrace looking down into the Montjoie valley. Nant Borrant has small dorms, and showers, and promises a quiet and relaxing evening. (refuge Nant Borrant)
Day 9 An undulating trail leads through alpine pastures and pine forests, through the village of les Contamines, and up to the quiet and quaint twin valleys of Miage and Bionnassay on one of the prettiest corners of the TMB. Passing through a tiny hamlet of stone houses where cows and horses graze peacefully surrounded by hanging glaciers, we'll stop in Bionnassay, one of the hidden gems of the Mont Blanc region, filled with waterfalls and a distinctly off-the-beaten-path feel. Overnight at the simple and friendly Bionnassay inn. (auberge Bionnassay)
Day 10 The final hike on our Mont Blanc tour explores the wild upper reaches of the Bionnassay valley before bringing us to the Bellevue ridge, where we are once again treated to Mont Blanc and the Chamonix valley. Finish with a cablecar and bus ride back to Chamonix, where we meet up with our luggage once again, and enjoy a delicious celebratory dinner at a favorite local restaurant. (Hotel les Aiglons)
Day 11 Today we say au revoir, and depart for our post-Mont Blanc destinations.
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|Arrive:|| Plan to arrive the day your tour starts at the latest (flights from the US usually depart the day before). The closest airport is Geneva. We can arrange airport pickup and extra nights in Chamonix before or after the trip. |
|Depart:|| Plan departure for the day the tour ends at the earliest. Since the Geneva airport is only 1 hour away by airport shuttle, it is possible to leave the day the tour ends. The Swiss Card rail pass is not useful for this tour. |
Check out our nearby Bernese Oberland Traverse or Haute Route inn-to-inn tours. Or ask about a self-guided TMB tour or a private guided tour.
See our self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc and self-guided Mont Blanc Highlights pages.
Read Josh Roberts in USA Today recap his guided Tour du Mont Blanc with Alpinehikers in 2003.
||7 nights 3-star hotels, 4 nights 1 mountain inns, 6 dinners, airport transfers
If you're an independent hiker and prefer to go at your own pace, or have travel dates that don't match up with our guided tours, you may prefer to arrange the Tour du Mont Blanc as a self-guided hiking tour. The self-guided tour price is per person based on two people sharing a standard double room, and the itinerary is different than our guided tour itinerary.
This self-guided tour includes prepaid hotels with breakfast each morning and 6 dinners, airport pickup and dropoff, hiking maps, detailed route descriptions, and lots of useful information that will help your trip run smoothly.
This tour can be customized to fit your needs. If you'd like to lengthen or shorten the tour, upgrade hotels (or go rustic), add luggage transfers, or create a customized tour from scratch, let us know. We have extensive experience across the Alps, and will be happy to work with you to build the hiking vacation that best suits your needs.
See our self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc page