length

13 Days

difficulty

Strenuous

trip cost

from $4290 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

13 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Strenuous

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

from $4290 pp

Nature Immersion

Cultural Interest

Self-Guided Trip

our walk expert

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • Self-Guided
  • Walking App
  • Itinerary
  • Map
  • Inclusions
  • On the trail
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar walks

Overview

The Self-Guided Trip

The European Alps offer some of the most spectacular and enjoyable walkings in the world and this adventure offers the chance to combine three countries into one trip as we cross the rugged Alps from France to Italy and Switzerland. The trek around Mont Blanc is one of Europe’s best mountain walks and you’ll get a chance to appreciate the different cultures, foods, and people whilst you hike through glorious Alpine scenery.

This self-guided trip along the Mont Blanc circuit is an ideal way to have full flexibility with your dates if you are confident with walking in a mountain environment. We provide detailed track notes that will help you follow the track and choose between its variants each day. The Mont Blanc track is well signed, so between the materials we give you and the signage on the ground, it is not too difficult to find your way.

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Highlights

Get Ready For

  • Challenge yourself on Europe’s classic mountain walk
  • Trek through France, Italy and Switzerland
  • Savour culinary specialities from each country
  • Experience spectacular alpine scenery
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Self-Guided

Self-Guided Walking

Self-guided trips offer flexibility, independence and choice. Set your own agenda while someone else worries about the logistics. Our self-guided walking holidays are fully flexible which means you can normally start your walk on any day during the season (given the availability of accommodation). As you’re walking independently, you’re free to follow the trail at your own pace. You set your own speed as you are not limited by the constraints of group travel.

RAW Travel App

Walking App

Finding your way

Our unique RAW Travel walking app has been designed to help you navigate easily on the trail. Simply download your map with the link we send you and you’ll be able to follow your route with ease, showing your location in real-time without any internet connection needed. The app has many great features; it shows you weather forecasts localised for each of your overnight stops, detailed information on each overnight stop and what facilities are available there. There are important reminders, safety information, videos and emergency contact information for your route. It also has a unique audio feature that can tell you about places and points of interest as you approach them on the trail. We also provide you with a guidebook to fall back on for extra information and maps.

Itinerary

DAILY DETAILS

Important Info

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a very popular walk and refuges sometimes get overbooked. This is just a guide to the route. Details may change and the actual refuges booked may vary from what is written here, dependent on client numbers, wishes and availability. This adjustment with refuges may alter the exact distance walked in a day so the itinerary should be used as an indication to overnight stops/distances.

We use long-established family run 2-star (equivalent) rustic hotels and refuges, which we have chosen for their stunning location. Most offer spectacular mountain views. They represent the country, culture and environment in which they are located. They are all clean, well-run and set up with the trekker in mind. The atmosphere is friendly and jovial – hikers from many nationalities gather to spend the night. Please be aware that room sizes (twin, double, triple or quadruple rooms) and facilities will vary from hotels to hotel and sometimes from room to room in the same hotel. On some nights, facilities are ensuite while others have the possibility, depending on availability and group size, of shared bathroom and toilet facilities. Some nights you may be in triple, quad or multi share depending on the size of your trekking group (Under certain conditions, there might be occasional alterations to lodging arrangements because of unforeseen logistical factors). Please refer to the itinerary for full details.

Day 1: ARRIVE CHAMONIX

Arrive today in the mountain town of Chamonix. Dependent on your arrival timing you will meet either tonight or tomorrow morning with a RAW Travel representative for a briefing on your walk and what to expect. The day is free for you to explore the town and its amazing mountain surroundings. Take a cable car up the famous Aguille de Midi for spectacular views over the Alps or relax in the many street cafes offering excellent cuisine.

Day 2: CHAMONIX TO LES HOUCHES (13KM, 5 HOURS)

To commence your journey through the stunning landscapes of the Chamonix region, you will have the perfect vantage point to begin your adventure: the majestic Brevent. You will get there via the picturesque Col du Brevent, with your journey commencing by ascending the cable car to Plan Praz, a convenient and breathtaking start to your exploration. From the summit (2525 m), the view of the grandeur of Mont Blanc, is incomparable, however your day doesn’t end until you have descended the Brevent and hiked via Bel Lachat and Merlet before arriving in Les Houches for your overnight stay. Today includes some steep climbing, with some ladder and cable sections where careful footing is essential. For your effort you will be rewarded with some spectacular views.

Ascent 500m / Descent 1440m

Meals: B, D

Day 3: LES HOUCHES TO LES CONTAMINES (14KM, 6 HOURS)

Today you will start by taking the cable car to the Col de Bellevue, from where there are great views of the Aiguille du Gouter. A charming traverse passes right at the foot of the Bionnassay Glacier. A bridge across a river and then you will ascend up to the Col du Tricot (2120m) from where a zigzagging path leads you down to the Chalets de Miage before descending down to the Val Montjoie. If the weather is poor, you may decide to go via the Col de Voza and the low-level route to Les Contamines (this route is longer and easier, but definitely recommended in poor weather). Overnight in Les Contamines.

Ascent 630m / Descent 1225m

Meals: B, D

Day 4: LES CONTAMINES TO LES CHAPIEUX (20.5KM, 7 HOURS)

From the village of Les Contamines, you will walk up to the Col du Bonhomme. The path at this stage leads gently up the valley to the beautiful church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, which will be a picturesque rest stop. The track that was originally constructed by the Romans is roughly paved with large slabs and flagstones. Once past the church, the path winds steeply through pines beside a narrow gorge, where the blue-tinged waters of the Torrent de Tré la Tête boil and thunder between smooth rock walls. You will leave the Val Montjoie to cross over to the Beaufortain Valley via the high Col de la Croix du Bonhomme and arrive at Les Chapieux via the Petit Mont Blanc pasture.

Accommodation this evening is in a refuge in a remote location and will be on a triple or quad share basis and bathroom facilities will be shared.

Ascent 1300m / Descent 900m

Meals: B, D

Day 5: LES CHAPIEUX TO VAL VENY (16KM, 8 hours)

Climbing steadily through a narrow steep-sided valley you reach the summer cheese-making hamlet of La Ville des Glaciers. You will reach the Val d’Aosta via the Col de la Seigne (2516 m) where you can stand on the border of France and Italy and be rewarded with superb views in all directions. A path leads you around the Limestone Pyramids to reach the moraine of the Estelette Glacier. Rifugio Elizabetta is in a very dramatic location with glaciers spilling down the mountain behind it and amazing views of the Val Veny before you.

Today, there is no luggage transfer possible. You will be self-supporting for this night and will be reunited with your baggage in Courmayeur tomorrow. We recommend travelling as light as possible – just a change of clothes and a toothbrush! 

Accommodation this evening is in a refuge and will be on a multi share basis (dependent on the number of trekkers in your group) and bathroom facilities will be shared.

Ascent 720m / Descent 540m

Meals: B, D

Day 6: VAL VENY TO COURMAYEUR (13KM, 5 hours)

Today begins with a small descent to reach Lake Combal. The way up to the Arp Vieille (2420 m) is easy and takes you onto a magnificent balcony. Mont Blanc sits enthroned above the Brouillard and Freney Glaciers and summits such as the Innominata and the Aiguilles de Peuterey – all epic names in alpinism. Descent to the col Checroui then onto Courmayeur for your overnight stay.

Ascent 480m / Descent 1220m

Meals: B

Day 7: REST DAY – COURMAYEUR

Today you have a full day to explore this Italian Alpine town, enjoy an espresso in one of the street cafes or take the incredible cable car ride from Le Palud to the point Helbronner at 3470m. There is also an excellent thermal bath and spa at Pre St Didier, just 5km away and easily reached by local bus. Or you could take a trip to the provincial capital of Aosta (1 hour by bus) with its Roman remains and medieval streets.

Meals: B

Day 8: COURMAYEUR TO ITALIAN VAL FERRET (16.2KM, 6 hours)

Leaving from the hamlet of Villair (1340m) is a charming forested ascent to the Bertonne refuge, then over a crest dominating the Val Ferret before reaching Tete Bernada (2534m). Here you will find yourself at the summit of one of the most beautiful lookouts on the whole Tour du Mont Blanc. There is also an alternative path which runs on the flank of the mountain to Refuge Bonatti on a glorious contouring trail with flower meadows, milky streams, and clanging cowbells while descending into the Italian Val Ferret.

Accommodation this evening is in a remote location and as a result, bathroom facilities will be shared.

Ascent 970m or 1300m / Descent 550m or 950m

Meals: B, D

Day 9: ITALIAN VAL FERRET TO LA FOULY (21KM, 8 hours)

Today starts with an easy walk up the valley to Refugio Elena where the most demanding climb to the pass begins. The ascent to the Col Ferret (2537m) is steep but enjoyable. Crossing the Grand Col Ferret takes you out of Italy and into Switzerland along the eastern edge of the Mont Blanc Range. There are a few streams to cross today. The walk down into the Swiss Val Ferret is through pastureland and on a mixture of paths, tracks and through valais pastures to the charming village of La Fouly or hamlet of Ferret (1595m) where you will stay at either one overnight.

Accommodation is in a remote location and bathroom facilities may be shared. Luggage transfers are also not included on this day so you will need to carry a spare set of base layer clothes and basic toiletries for the night.

Ascent 1240m / Descent 1200m

Meals: B, D

Day 10: TRANSFER LA FOULY TO CHAMPEX, TREK TO TRIENT (18KM, 5.5 -6.5 hours)

After breakfast transfer via local buses from La Fouly to Champex, which is famous for its lake and the distant views of the Grand Combin. The classic Tour du Mont Blanc takes the Bovine route. This part of the trail passes near meadows, forests and then steeply up to the high alpine pastures and simple Alp building of the working dairy farm Bovine that overlooks the Rhône Valley. An hour and a half of easy walking followed by a rapid ascent in the forest and we are hanging over the Rhone valley and the town of Martigny. You will not be disappointed with this fabulous balcony and views of far-ranging mountains. Take a moment to enjoy spectacular views across to the Bernese Alps before a very pleasant and mostly downhill woodland walk that will take you to Col de La Forclaz.

There is a possible variation via the Fenêtre d’Arpette d’Arpette (2671m). This is the highest pass of the Tour du Mont Blanc at (2665m) and a tough climb up a valley and rocky slopes to reach the pass – reckoned by many to be the hardest part of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Two local bus transfers required in the morning and accommodation this evening is in a refuge in a remote location and will be on a triple or quad share basis and bathroom facilities will be shared.

Ascent 800m or 1200m / Descent 960m or 1140m

Meals: B, D

Day 11: TRIENT TO ARGENTIERE (17KM, 5 hours)

The hike up to the Col de Balme (2131m) via les Herbageres brings us back into France and then you will continue with lengthy, yet gradual climb that leads to the Col De Balme, where a charming refuge sits at the pass. Superb Views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley stretched before you. Returning to the Chamonix Valley from here is a very pleasant walk. Col de La Balme is the furthest point from the summit of Mont Blanc enjoy panoramic views of lovely snow domes that will remain in sight for most of the descent into Argentiere.

Ascent 1020m / Descent 1020m

Meals: B, D

Day 12: ARGENTIERE TO CHAMONIX (14KM, 5-6 hours)

The path climbs mostly across forested slopes to the base of steep granite cliffs where in places a section of iron ladders are used to help negotiate the track. It is a superb walk along the Grand Balcon Sud, which is one of the most popular and famed sections of the path in the Alps with views of Glacier d’Argentière and the rocky spires of the Chamonix Aiguilles. This is the best place along the trek to see ibex which can be spotted from the path. The option to walk to Lac Blanc is well worth the additional climb as the refuge there offers incredible views and the glacial lakes are beautiful to relax by on a sunny day.

Return to Chamonix by cable car in the afternoon.

Ascent 930m or 1125m / Descent 325m or 380m

Meals: B

Day 13: DEPART CHAMONIX

The trip finishes today and you are free to stay on or make arrangements for your onwards travels.

Meals: B

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Map

Explore

Chamonix

This town is dominated by the mighty Mont Blanc massif with tumbling glaciers visible from the main street. There are many attractions including the Aguille Du Midi cablecar with its stupendous views and restaurant, the glacier express railway, and whitewater rafting right in the town. Plus Europe’s best selection of outdoor gear shops along its attractive streets.

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Les Houches

A small town situated at 1000m of altitude and lying at the foot of Mont-Blanc (4810m), Les Houches offers an exceptional panorama of the peaks surrounding Chamonix. The village itself boasts charming chalets, hotels and restaurants where you can savour delicious Savoyard cuisine including fondue, raclette and and hearty mountain dishes.

Les Contamines

This small picturesque village has a beautiful Baroque church in the nearby wooded valley and a Roman Bridge on the TMB Trail which leads to the Col du Bon Homme. It is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including snow-capped peaks, lush forests, and alpine meadows. It offers breathtaking views of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps.

Les Chapieux

Les Chapieux is an idyllic hamlet and one of the last stops in France before you cross to Italy. Situated at an altitude of about 1,550m, it serves as a gateway to the stunning Mont Blanc Massif and the Tarentaise Valley. The village exudes tranquility and offers a glimpse into traditional alpine life with its charming wooden chalets and breathtaking alpine vistas.

Col de la Seigne

This pass (2516m) straddles the border between France and Italy connecting the Italian Valle d’Aosta region with France’s Savoie region. If offers awe-inspiring panoramic vistas of the Mont Blanc Massif, including the imposing Mont Blanc itself, and the long valley descent to Courmayeur. The breathtaking alpine landscape, with rugged peaks, pristine glaciers, and alpine meadows stretches as far as the eye can see.

Courmayeur

This charming Italian ski town is nestled in the heart of the Aosta Valley at the foot of Mont Blanc. It provides a welcome taste of civilisation at the midway point of the trek. Courmayeur has a vibrant culinary scene, offering delicious Italian cuisine, including regional specialties like hearty pasta dishes and delectable cheeses.

Rifugio Bonatti

Named after renowned Italian mountaineer Walter Bonatti, this mountain hut is situated in a truly spectacular setting, perched at an elevation of approximately 2,025m above sea level in the heart of the Mont Blanc Massif. The welcoming hosts ensure a warm and friendly atmosphere for guests.

 

 

 

La Fouly

Your first stop in Switzerland lives up to the hype! The picture-perfect scenery of the Val Ferret is hard to overstate. La Fouly sits at the head of a verdant forested valley, populated by small hamlets of old Swiss wooden chalets. It is one of the most enjoyable sections of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Champex

The charming village of Champex is ocated in the French-speaking Swiss canton of Valais and one of our overnight stops on the TMB. The village lies at 1,470m on the shore of Lac de Champex, at the foot of the Mont Blanc Massif. It is a starting point for many hikes into the surrounding mountains and huts.

Trient

Trient is a small village in the district of Martigny in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It is the last stop in Switzerland before heading over the Col de Balme back into France. The village has retained much of its historical charm. Its traditional wooden chalets, many of which date back centuries, showcase the region’s architectural heritage.

Argentière

Laidback Argentière, at the foot of the impressive Argentière Glacier, is surrounded by majestic peaks, including the iconic Aiguille Verte. In summer it’s a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, attracting hikers, mountain bikers and rockclimbers.

Inclusions

What's included?

Included
  • 2 nights B&B accommodation in Chamonix (with ensuite)
  • 10 nights accommodation in small hotels or the best refugios available on the TMB (5 nights twin share accommodation & 5 nights triple or quad share)
  • Meet and greet by local RAW Travel representative
  • Breakfast & dinners as outlined above
  • RAW Travel App and comprehensive track notes & map
  • Luggage transfers all but 2 nights (you will carry only a day pack with spare clothes & minimal toiletries).
  • Prices quoted are per person based on a group of 4 (minimum)
Excluded
  • Flights to/from your destination
  • Transfers to and from Chamonix
  • Cable Car on Day 2, 3 & 12
  • Local bus fees on Day 10
  • Dinners on Days 1, 6, 7, 12 and 13
  • Lunches
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Travel insurance
AIRPORT TRANSFERS

Chamonix Valley Transfers is our preferred partner and bookings can be made via their website: https://chamonix-valley-transfers.co.uk/book/

This is for pick-up and drop-off at the international airport in Geneva to our base hotel in Chamonix.

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On the trail

The experience

The Mont Blanc circuit is a well-defined trail that has intermittent signposts at various junctions and offers some route variations on selected days. The terrain underfoot can vary from narrow dirt paths and rock trails on the mountain sections, to unsealed or tarmac roads in the valleys. The trek will take you over a number of passes which will involve some long and challenging ascents and descents however, the stunning views will be reward for your effort. The first day of trekking, above Chamonix, involves some steep climbing, ladders and cables to ascend to the Grand Balcon. A high level of walking fitness is required to complete all the days of the circuit – this trek is no Sunday stroll and will require training and preparation. This trek is spectacularly varied and no two days are alike in terms of scenery and conditions, and often weather, which makes it even more enticing!  Be sure to read our Training and Destination guides for more details on training and what to expect on the trip.

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Exclusive Guide

get inspired

Our comprehensive Destination Guide is bursting with inspiration, travel essentials, background information and more! Essential reading to help you plan, prepare and enjoy a memorable trip in the Alps.

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TRIP date selection

when would you like to travel?

Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

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