OVERVIEW

Complete the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit, Europe’s most popular long-distance walk. From the historic mountaineers’ town of Chamonix, hike onto high mountain trails as you circumnavigate western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc (4810m). Immerse yourself in mountain life staying in alpine hotels and deep into the valleys in comfortable mountain lodgings.

Taking in all the major passes, cross from France to Italy over the Col de la Seigne (2515m) and trek into Switzerland via the mighty Grand Col Ferret (2530m). Soak up the staggering mountain vistas of snowy peaks, glaciers and lush valleys. Picnic in alpine pastures, keeping an eye out for marmots and Ibex mountain goats. Each day descend into towns and villages and explore the culture which has upheld traditional cheese making methods for centuries. Enjoy one of the world’s premier walking treks carrying only a daypack while your luggage is transported ahead for you.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Complete Europe’s most popular long-distance trek, ‘Tour du Mont Blanc’
  • Follow rugged mountain trails through France, Italy and Switzerland
  • Picnic on local Beaufort cheese and fresh, crusty boulangère bread
  • Stay each night family run hotels, alpine chalets and traditional mountain lodgings
  • Soak up Italian mountain life with a rest day in Courmayeur
  • Spot Ibex and Chamois mountain goats hopping across sheer rock faces
  • Hangout in the historic mountaineers’ town of Chamonix
  • Private rooms and luggage transfer included

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
14 DAYS
WALK GRADE
Moderate to Challenging

Grade 4 - Moderate to Challenging

Distances are longer up to 20km. Steep hill sections and rough surfaces. Walking experience and active lifestyle necessary.

PRICE FROM
$ 3895

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 950

Accommodations charge the same price per room regardless of whether there are one or two people occupying it. To cover the cost of the accommodation when occupied by one person we need to charge the single occupancy fee.

per person

Book now

ITINERARY

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
  • Day 10
  • Day 11
  • Day 12
  • Day 13
  • Day 14

DAY 1
Arrive Chamonix

Bustling with outdoor enthusiasts, the French Alpine town of Chamonix is only a 90-minute transfer from Geneva Airport. From the garden of your hotel, relax under the incredible Mont Blanc massif before further exploring the streets, pavement cafes and bars of this famous alpine town.

Accommodation: Hotel Oustalet
Run by the Durban sisters, Agnes and Veronique’s 3* hotel is a typical timber alpine chalet located in the heart of Chamonix. From their spacious garden, relax poolside with exceptional views of the Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc.

Meals included: None

DAY 2
Walk to Les Contamines

Today we’d suggest taking the cable car up to Bellevue (1802m) at the western end of the Chamonix Valley. From Bellevue you have a choice of two routes to Les Contamines; Hike over the Col du Tricot (2102m), under the shadow of the Bionnassay and Aiguille de Bionnassay glaciers and onwards to the picture postcard Chalet de Miage (famed for their blueberry tart). Alternatively, trek through high alpine pastures and enchanting woodland via the hamlets of Bionnassay and Le Champel to the peaceful village of Les Contamines.

Trek via the Col du Tricot: 18km
Ascent: 1450m
Descent: 1250m

Trek via Bionnassay & Le Champel: 17km
Ascent: 1050m
Descent: 850m

By using the cable from Bellevue either walk is reduced by approx. 2 hours and around 700-800m of ascent.

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Gai Soleil
Built by a local farmer in 1823, the Hotel Gai Soleil became a family run hotel around 1920. With a surge in climbers visiting the region, the Gai Soleil became a firm favourite with keen alpinists. Run by Valerie and David, they take immense pride in serving dishes created with local produce. In the warm summer evenings, dinner is often served in their peaceful garden.

DAY 3
Walk to Les Chapieux (or Refuge Mottets)

Begin the day by walking south from Les Contamines along the River Bonnant to the 17th century church of Notre-Dame, which marks the start of the mountain path to Col du Bonhomme (2329m). The road gives way to a steep and roughly paved road, which climbs to Refuge La Balme (a very well-timed rest!). From here the, rocky path climbs over the Col du Bonhomme and onto Col du Croix Bonhomme (2383m). If conditions (and legs) permit, there is an option to hike over the spectacular Col des Fours (2655m), before descending directly into Vallee des Glacier and your overnight accommodation.

Trek to Les Chapieux: 18.5km
Ascent: 1350m
Descent: 950m

Trek via Col des Fours to Mottets: 19.5km
Ascent: 1600m
Descent: 900m

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Auberge de la Nova
A friendly auberge that provides a warm welcome to hikers. Serving up simple and delicious dishes, this accommodation is simple and offers comfortable private rooms with ensuites. On arrival it’s worth grabbing a refreshing beer and kicking back to relax in the gardens before dinner.

Refuge Mottets
Located at the foot of the climb to Col de la Seigne, Refuge Mottets is a cosy mountain refuge, offering simple, private en-suite rooms. Included dinners are typically hearty dishes of beef bourguignonne and on occasion the local staff play folk music during the evening. Staying at the Refuge Mottets is wonderful, authentic mountain experience.

DAY 4
Walk to Rifugio Elisabetta

From La Vallee des Glacier it’s a steady well carved track that winds up to Col de la Seigne (2513m). At the pass, straddle the border between France and Italy and soak up views from the southern side of the Mont Blanc. In good weather views extend to the Grand Col Ferret, Switzerland. Descend into Vallon de la Lee Blanche, passing La Casmertta (a former customs centre, now a mountain museum). Continue to a surprisingly flat stretch of trail to the perfectly placed Rifugio Elisabetta below the tumbling Glacier de la Lee Blanche.

Distance: 16km (or 10km if walking from Refuge Mottets)
Ascent: 1050m
Descent: 450m

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Rifugio Elisabetta
A cosy rifugio with the atmosphere of a stylish mountain lodge. The dual aspect dining room and balcony provides superb views of Val Veni. Stocked with cool beers, good coffee and sweet Italian treats, the kitchen serves up classic dishes of risotto, beef stew with polenta and local cheeses. Private rooms are clean, comfortable and bathrooms are shared.

DAY 5
Walk to Courmayeur

Follow the trail down to Lac Combal where you’ll soon begin to climb again towards Arp Vielle and onto a magnificent balcony trail towards Col Checrouit. Across the valley, the enormity of the southern Mont Blanc is revealed and there are many great vantage points to soak mountain life, relax with a picnic and look out for Marmots. To make the most of your time up on this trail, you can always descend directly to Courmayeur by chairlift.

Distance: 14km
Ascent: 850m
Descent: 1300m
Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Crampon
Run by the Grivel Di Addario family, this 3* hotel is located in a quiet street just a few minutes walk from the main centre. With a long heritage of mountaineers in the family, the hotel is well equipped to look after weary trekkers. A comfortable lounge, fireplace, a garden terrace and modest ensuite rooms all make for an enjoyable stay.

DAY 6
Courmayeur Rest Day

Today you have the option to relax and stroll around the cobbled streets of Courmayeur, strolling between gelato shops. The beauty and mountains of Courmayeur have long been attracting climbers and trekkers since the late 18th century when Mont Blanc was conquered in 1786. In the town centre, the Guides Museum is well worth a visit, celebrating 150 years of alpinism.

DAY 7
Walk to Rifugio Bonatti

Leave Courmayeur town on foot and ascend onto the steep forested slopes of La Montagne de la Saxe. After arriving at Rifugio Bertone, follow the ‘Balcony Route’ which gives incredible unbroken views across Val Ferret to Mont Blanc and Grand Jorasses. On reaching Rifugio Walter Bonatti, the picnic terrace is great for sampling the famous Bonatti hot chocolate and taking in the majesty of the mountains around you.

Distance: 12.5km
Ascent: 1250m
Descent: 280m
Accommodation: Rifugio Bonatti
Named after the celebrated Italian mountaineer and climber, Walter Bonatti, this rifugio is much more than a typical mountain refuge. A large, well stocked bar and restaurant provide a comfortable and relaxing environment. Simple rooms provide a great nights sleep and its location is perched high above the Val Ferret with incredible views of glaciers and peaks.

DAY 8
Walk to La Fouly

Today’s walk begins with a gentle few km’s to Rifugio Elena located at the foot to today’s objective, the Grand Col Ferret (2563m). A good trail climbs sharply where you can gain excellent views back into Italy and up to Mont Dolent (shared by Italy, France and Switzerland). Crossing the col into Switzerland, descend to Ferrett, passing typical Swiss chalets and flower filled gardens to the charming hamlet of La Fouly where you will spend the night.

Distance: 19km
Ascent: 950m
Descent: 1350m
Accommodation: Hotel Edelweiss
The Baumeler family have run the Hotel Edelweiss since 1956. This chocolate box wooden chalet has retained its typical Swiss design but in recent years, the interior has been upgraded with contemporary mountain décor. With great views of Mont Dolent from the terrace, this is a great spot to relax with a cool beer on arrival.

DAY 9
Walk to Champex

A day of chocolate box villages and flower filled Swiss gardens begins by following the river gently downhill. One of the easiest stages of the circuit, the routes passes through the timeless village of Arlaches. Its medieval wooden buildings adorned with neatly packed flower boxes is a window into a bygone era of this region. Climbing out of the valley to Lac Champex, the picturesque waterside cafes and bars are definitely worth a stop before heading to your hotel.

Distance:15km
Ascent: 600m
Descent: 600m
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Glacier
The Bislex family have been welcoming walkers since 1895. Now in its fifth generation, the hotel has continued to provide comfortable ensuite rooms and an ever-changing menu of regional dishes to ensure trekkers are well fed. Located only a couple of minutes from the lakeside, its location is perfect for a post dinner stroll.

DAY 10
Walk to Trient

A choice of 2 stunning routes today. The official route follows the Bovine Trail which ascends through pine forests, over glacial rivers and across high alpine pastures where the famous ‘Swiss fighting cows’ graze throughout summer. Mid-way, stop off at the Bovine Hut which serves delicious home-made apple cake (along with excellent views over the Swiss Bernese Alps).

The alternative routes heads over the challenging Fenetre d’Arpette (2665m). Considered by many as the toughest day on the circuit, the ascent and descent follows a steep, exposed rocky trail across boulder fields and scree slopes. A day of real mountain adventure!

Trek the Bovine Route: 18km
Ascent: 900m
Descent: 950m

Trek via Fenetre d’Arpette: 15km
Ascent: 1200m
Descent: 1400m

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: La Grande Ourse
A typical Swiss trekker’s hotel, La Grande Ourse is simple, comfortable and located in the heart of Trient village. The private rooms and shared bathrooms are immaculate. Before dinner, enjoy an aperitif on the sun terrace with fellow trekkers.

DAY 11
Trient to Argentiere

It’s back into France today as a sharp but relatively short climbs heads over the Col de Balme (2192m). On the approach to the col, you’ll be rewarded with extensive views over Chamonix Valley and the familiar snow-capped peak of Mont Blanc. From here you can choose to relax on the terrace of the Col de Balme hut and take a direct descent to the valley. Alternatively, tackle one last short ascent onto the fertile ridge of Aiguillette des Posettes, to be rewarded with glorious views of the Mont Blanc Massif and Aiguille Rouge. Descending to the valley, enjoy a short journey to Chamonix aboard the Mont-Blanc express train.

Distance: 14km
Ascent: 1150m
Descent: 1000m
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel de la Couronne
Built in 1865 for visiting mountaineers, this 3* hotel has been welcoming guests for 150 years. Comfortable rooms have traditional décor along with an ensuite bathroom. Adjacent to the hotel is one of the Argentiere’s most popular restaurants and after a day of walking this means you’re only a short walk from the bar.

DAY 12
Argentiere (Tre-le-Champ), Lac Blanc to Plan Praz

A spectacular day of mountain walking begins with an ascent across forested slopes and onto steeper ground to the foot of a short section of fixed ladders. Being steeper ground, there are excellent chances to see agile Ibex mountain goats. Now, deep into the Aiguille Rouge Nature reserve, follow the trail to the idyllic setting of Refuge Lac Blanc overlooking the cobalt waters of the lake. Descending on rocky paths, the path narrows into the famous ‘Balcony Trail’ where you’ll enjoy largely unbroken vistas across to Mont Blanc range until you reach the cable car station of Plan Praz. Here, descend by cable car to your hotel in Chamonix.

Distance: 14km
Ascent: 1300m
Descent: 800m
Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Oustalet

DAY 13
Walk to Les Houches

The last day of trekking starts by returning to Plan Praz by cable car. Re-joining the trail, you have several options, which include hiking up to the Col du Brevent and onto Le Brevent (2525m). At the mountain top restaurant, snow-capped peaks and glaciers seem within touching distance. From here, if you prefer to take the day a little easier, descend to Chamonix on the Brevent cable car. Alternatively, continue by foot, descending into alpine woodland and the village of Les Houches. Return to Chamonix via the mountain train (or bus). With an abundance of traditional and global dining options, Chamonix is a great place to reflect and celebrate the completion of one of the world’s greatest treks.

Distance: 12km
Ascent: 600m
Descent: 1550m
Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Oustalet

DAY 14
Onward Travel

Depending on your onward travel arrangements, take a walk around Chamonix or indulge in a morning of freshly baked patisserie cakes and coffee before your departure.

Meals included: Breakfast

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Pack-free walking

  • 25+ years experience

  • Customised

  • Eco Travel

  • Walk pack free with luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation arranged for you
  • 13 nights accommodation in 3* hotels, simple hotels and/or mountain refuges
  • All luggage transfers
  • 13 breakfasts and 8 dinners
  • Maps, guidebook, GPX tracks and daily route summary
  • 24/7 telephone support
  • Itineraries can please flexible to account for weather conditions
  • One rest day is included, more can be added if you would like to further explore the region
  • Enjoy worry free navigation with Auswalk’s authored comprehensive tack notes and maps

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

OVERVIEW

During this tour you will stay in 3* hotels, small family run hotels, mountain auberges (small simple hotels) and/or a mountain refuge. With the exception of nights 4 and 10, all rooms are private with ensuite, on these nights the accommodation is limited and therefore bathrooms are shared, but from our experience they are always clean with a plentiful supply of hot water!

Should you also request a twin room, please note it is the norm in Switzerland for two separate mattresses, with individual bed linen to be pushed or together or even placed into one large bed frame.

All the accommodations are accustomed to welcoming trekkers and very well equipped to make your stay comfortable regardless of the weather conditions. Typically, rooms are simple but very comfortable. As many of the overnight stays are in small villages or towns, on occasion we may have to book another similar accommodation of equal standard. We will discuss these options with you during the booking process.

Single Rooms
The alpine trekking season is very short and therefore accommodation is very busy. Single rooms may not always be possible in every overnight stay, very often single rooms are not available in mountain refuges. We will endeavour to always try and meet your requirements. If you are travelling with family and/or friends but would like single rooms we would advise booking as soon as your plans are finalised to secure your rooming preferences.

Dining
You will be provided with 13 breakfasts and 8 dinners. If you have any food allergies or intolerances, please let us know at the time of booking so we can let your hosts know. Should you have severe food allergies, it’s always worth bringing a few of your own snacks with you. Especially as ingredients and supplies can be hard to obtain in the mountains.

You will find in many of the smaller accommodations, dining is very often on communal tables with set mealtimes. This enables small kitchen teams to ensure everyone is fed on time and nobody is left hungry after a long day of trekking! Lunches can be purchased locally which is a great part of the experience. The towns and villages you pass through are renowned for their speciality breads, cheeses and meats (many of which continue to be produced by hand). If you’re lucky enough to encounter a local farmers market, the choice and range of local foods is staggering. Many of your accommodations will also make a picnic lunch for you. A staff favourite is the Beaufort cheese from La Vallee des Glaciers, which you can purchase fresh from the farm. Within your daily walk notes, there are detailed suggestions of where to buy lunch each day.

GENERAL INFO

AVAILABILITY

In early July it is possible the trail might remain closed due to heavy snowfall. Should this happen we would do our very best to reschedule the tour for a later date (on occasion it is possible the tour might even be cancelled, but this is rare). Up until late July, some of the higher passes may still have snow on them (with the possibility of them being closed). Should this happen you will be provided with comprehensive information about taking an alternative route and/or local transport. In the event of any major route closures, we will contact you prior to travel and discuss the alternative walk options with you.

Towards the end of the season (early September) some transport options will have stopped operating for the season. You should therefore be prepared to walk the full distance every day. There is always the option of using a local taxi if necessary. Within your travel notes, advice will be given for all transport options to shorten or skip the walking for that specific day.

THE WALKING

You will be walking around 20km a day with up to 1500m of ascent and descent. Trails are well-defined, well waymarked and cover a variety of terrains which include; forest tracks, high alpine pastures, rocky mountain paths and through mountain towns and villages. It is also possible you may have to cross some snowy patches on the ascent or descent of higher mountain cols, so good mountain footwear is required! On days 12 and 13 there are short sections of metal ladders, handrails and foot rungs bolted into the rock which are very straightforward to follow. However, if you suffer from vertigo, or have any further questions about these sections, we’d be happy to discuss the options to get around these walks.

Although the route is well way marked for each of your walks, you will be provided with guidebook, a summary of daily walks, maps (and GPX tracks if you require to use for your own device). Mountain weather can change quickly so it is essential that at least one of your trekking party is confident in using a map and compass to navigate (should visibility drop). You should always be able to locate your whereabouts on a map.

LUGGAGE

Your main piece of luggage will be transported for you, so all you have to do is carry a daypack with the essentials you need for that day. On day 7, owing to the remote location of Rifugio Bonatti you will not have access to your luggage and will have to carry everything you need for the 1 night you are at Rifugio Bonatti. If you have any questions about this please contact our office and have a chat with our friendly team.

HOW TO GET THERE AND AWAY

This walk starts and ends in Chamonix. The closest airport Chamonix is Geneva Airport.

Geneva Airport (or city) to Chamonix
There are a number of regular private bus transfer services to Chamonix Valley from Geneva Airport. We’d recommend Mountain Drop Offs. We will supply you with a discount code for you to pre-book your required transfers to and from Geneva Airport with Mountain Drop Offs at the time of confirming your booking. If we can assist you with any airport transfers required, we’d be happy to do so.

Another useful planning tool for travel is Rome2Rio should you be travelling from or to other destinations.

MAP

DEPARTURE DATES

  • DATES
    AVAILABILITY
    PRICE
    Single Occupancy
    DETAILS
  • 1 Jul 2020 - 30 Sep 2020
    AVAILABLE
    from

    $3895

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $950

FAQS

Q: What happens if I don’t want to walk one of the days, can I travel with the luggage?

Unfortunately, walkers cannot travel with the luggage. The information we will provide you with details for local taxi numbers, bus and train timetables should you wish to not walk on any day. Your accommodation hosts will also have up to date information and advice should you wish to travel to the next destination by local transport. As always, you can call us at the office for any help during your walk.

Q: Where would you suggest adding an extra night?

Chamonix. There is an abundance of great walks on Chamonix’s doorstep. You can also take the cable car to Aiguille du Midi (a panoramic cable car which takes you from Chamonix, 1035m to 3842m with an excellent view point up to the summit of Mont Blanc). Courmayeur Like Chamonix, Courmayeur has a number of great trails on its doorstep. It’s pedestrianised town centre has plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can sample wood fired pizza with a Monte Bianco beer. From Courmayeur you can also spend the day journeying across the Mont Blanc massif via a mountain train and series of panoramic cable cars. Champex As there is very little to do in Champex it is perfect for resting the legs and hanging out by the lake with a Mont Blanc biere and lunchtime fondue.

Q: Can you extend our stay in Chamonix?

Of course, please let us know at the time of booking if you would like to extend your time in Chamonix.

Q: Can my children walk with me?

No under 16’s for this trip.

Q: Is this tour OK for solo walkers?

Unfortunately, this trek is not available to solo walkers

Q: We’re travelling as friends but would like single rooms?

Subject to a supplementary payment, single rooms are available. However, due to the limited accommodation single rooms might not always be available for every night of the tour, but we will let you know your options throughout the booking process.

Q: Can we reduce the days walked?

Of course, there are several sections you can omit to complete the circuit in a shorter distance. If you are looking for a shorter tour but without losing the experience our ‘Highlights of the Tour du Mont Blanc’ completes the tour in 8 days by employing a sensible combination of local transport links with the best sections of walking.

Overview

OVERVIEW

Complete the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit, Europe’s most popular long-distance walk. From the historic mountaineers’ town of Chamonix, hike onto high mountain trails as you circumnavigate western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc (4810m). Immerse yourself in mountain life staying in alpine hotels and deep into the valleys in comfortable mountain lodgings.

Taking in all the major passes, cross from France to Italy over the Col de la Seigne (2515m) and trek into Switzerland via the mighty Grand Col Ferret (2530m). Soak up the staggering mountain vistas of snowy peaks, glaciers and lush valleys. Picnic in alpine pastures, keeping an eye out for marmots and Ibex mountain goats. Each day descend into towns and villages and explore the culture which has upheld traditional cheese making methods for centuries. Enjoy one of the world’s premier walking treks carrying only a daypack while your luggage is transported ahead for you.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Complete Europe’s most popular long-distance trek, ‘Tour du Mont Blanc’
  • Follow rugged mountain trails through France, Italy and Switzerland
  • Picnic on local Beaufort cheese and fresh, crusty boulangère bread
  • Stay each night family run hotels, alpine chalets and traditional mountain lodgings
  • Soak up Italian mountain life with a rest day in Courmayeur
  • Spot Ibex and Chamois mountain goats hopping across sheer rock faces
  • Hangout in the historic mountaineers’ town of Chamonix
  • Private rooms and luggage transfer included

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
14 DAYS
WALK GRADE
Moderate to Challenging

Grade 4 - Moderate to Challenging

Distances are longer up to 20km. Steep hill sections and rough surfaces. Walking experience and active lifestyle necessary.

PRICE FROM
$ 3895

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 950

Accommodations charge the same price per room regardless of whether there are one or two people occupying it. To cover the cost of the accommodation when occupied by one person we need to charge the single occupancy fee.

per person

Book now
Itinerary

ITINERARY

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
  • Day 10
  • Day 11
  • Day 12
  • Day 13
  • Day 14

DAY 1
Arrive Chamonix

Bustling with outdoor enthusiasts, the French Alpine town of Chamonix is only a 90-minute transfer from Geneva Airport. From the garden of your hotel, relax under the incredible Mont Blanc massif before further exploring the streets, pavement cafes and bars of this famous alpine town.

Accommodation: Hotel Oustalet
Run by the Durban sisters, Agnes and Veronique’s 3* hotel is a typical timber alpine chalet located in the heart of Chamonix. From their spacious garden, relax poolside with exceptional views of the Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc.

Meals included: None

DAY 2
Walk to Les Contamines

Today we’d suggest taking the cable car up to Bellevue (1802m) at the western end of the Chamonix Valley. From Bellevue you have a choice of two routes to Les Contamines; Hike over the Col du Tricot (2102m), under the shadow of the Bionnassay and Aiguille de Bionnassay glaciers and onwards to the picture postcard Chalet de Miage (famed for their blueberry tart). Alternatively, trek through high alpine pastures and enchanting woodland via the hamlets of Bionnassay and Le Champel to the peaceful village of Les Contamines.

Trek via the Col du Tricot: 18km
Ascent: 1450m
Descent: 1250m

Trek via Bionnassay & Le Champel: 17km
Ascent: 1050m
Descent: 850m

By using the cable from Bellevue either walk is reduced by approx. 2 hours and around 700-800m of ascent.

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Gai Soleil
Built by a local farmer in 1823, the Hotel Gai Soleil became a family run hotel around 1920. With a surge in climbers visiting the region, the Gai Soleil became a firm favourite with keen alpinists. Run by Valerie and David, they take immense pride in serving dishes created with local produce. In the warm summer evenings, dinner is often served in their peaceful garden.

DAY 3
Walk to Les Chapieux (or Refuge Mottets)

Begin the day by walking south from Les Contamines along the River Bonnant to the 17th century church of Notre-Dame, which marks the start of the mountain path to Col du Bonhomme (2329m). The road gives way to a steep and roughly paved road, which climbs to Refuge La Balme (a very well-timed rest!). From here the, rocky path climbs over the Col du Bonhomme and onto Col du Croix Bonhomme (2383m). If conditions (and legs) permit, there is an option to hike over the spectacular Col des Fours (2655m), before descending directly into Vallee des Glacier and your overnight accommodation.

Trek to Les Chapieux: 18.5km
Ascent: 1350m
Descent: 950m

Trek via Col des Fours to Mottets: 19.5km
Ascent: 1600m
Descent: 900m

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Auberge de la Nova
A friendly auberge that provides a warm welcome to hikers. Serving up simple and delicious dishes, this accommodation is simple and offers comfortable private rooms with ensuites. On arrival it’s worth grabbing a refreshing beer and kicking back to relax in the gardens before dinner.

Refuge Mottets
Located at the foot of the climb to Col de la Seigne, Refuge Mottets is a cosy mountain refuge, offering simple, private en-suite rooms. Included dinners are typically hearty dishes of beef bourguignonne and on occasion the local staff play folk music during the evening. Staying at the Refuge Mottets is wonderful, authentic mountain experience.

DAY 4
Walk to Rifugio Elisabetta

From La Vallee des Glacier it’s a steady well carved track that winds up to Col de la Seigne (2513m). At the pass, straddle the border between France and Italy and soak up views from the southern side of the Mont Blanc. In good weather views extend to the Grand Col Ferret, Switzerland. Descend into Vallon de la Lee Blanche, passing La Casmertta (a former customs centre, now a mountain museum). Continue to a surprisingly flat stretch of trail to the perfectly placed Rifugio Elisabetta below the tumbling Glacier de la Lee Blanche.

Distance: 16km (or 10km if walking from Refuge Mottets)
Ascent: 1050m
Descent: 450m

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Rifugio Elisabetta
A cosy rifugio with the atmosphere of a stylish mountain lodge. The dual aspect dining room and balcony provides superb views of Val Veni. Stocked with cool beers, good coffee and sweet Italian treats, the kitchen serves up classic dishes of risotto, beef stew with polenta and local cheeses. Private rooms are clean, comfortable and bathrooms are shared.

DAY 5
Walk to Courmayeur

Follow the trail down to Lac Combal where you’ll soon begin to climb again towards Arp Vielle and onto a magnificent balcony trail towards Col Checrouit. Across the valley, the enormity of the southern Mont Blanc is revealed and there are many great vantage points to soak mountain life, relax with a picnic and look out for Marmots. To make the most of your time up on this trail, you can always descend directly to Courmayeur by chairlift.

Distance: 14km
Ascent: 850m
Descent: 1300m
Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Crampon
Run by the Grivel Di Addario family, this 3* hotel is located in a quiet street just a few minutes walk from the main centre. With a long heritage of mountaineers in the family, the hotel is well equipped to look after weary trekkers. A comfortable lounge, fireplace, a garden terrace and modest ensuite rooms all make for an enjoyable stay.

DAY 6
Courmayeur Rest Day

Today you have the option to relax and stroll around the cobbled streets of Courmayeur, strolling between gelato shops. The beauty and mountains of Courmayeur have long been attracting climbers and trekkers since the late 18th century when Mont Blanc was conquered in 1786. In the town centre, the Guides Museum is well worth a visit, celebrating 150 years of alpinism.

DAY 7
Walk to Rifugio Bonatti

Leave Courmayeur town on foot and ascend onto the steep forested slopes of La Montagne de la Saxe. After arriving at Rifugio Bertone, follow the ‘Balcony Route’ which gives incredible unbroken views across Val Ferret to Mont Blanc and Grand Jorasses. On reaching Rifugio Walter Bonatti, the picnic terrace is great for sampling the famous Bonatti hot chocolate and taking in the majesty of the mountains around you.

Distance: 12.5km
Ascent: 1250m
Descent: 280m
Accommodation: Rifugio Bonatti
Named after the celebrated Italian mountaineer and climber, Walter Bonatti, this rifugio is much more than a typical mountain refuge. A large, well stocked bar and restaurant provide a comfortable and relaxing environment. Simple rooms provide a great nights sleep and its location is perched high above the Val Ferret with incredible views of glaciers and peaks.

DAY 8
Walk to La Fouly

Today’s walk begins with a gentle few km’s to Rifugio Elena located at the foot to today’s objective, the Grand Col Ferret (2563m). A good trail climbs sharply where you can gain excellent views back into Italy and up to Mont Dolent (shared by Italy, France and Switzerland). Crossing the col into Switzerland, descend to Ferrett, passing typical Swiss chalets and flower filled gardens to the charming hamlet of La Fouly where you will spend the night.

Distance: 19km
Ascent: 950m
Descent: 1350m
Accommodation: Hotel Edelweiss
The Baumeler family have run the Hotel Edelweiss since 1956. This chocolate box wooden chalet has retained its typical Swiss design but in recent years, the interior has been upgraded with contemporary mountain décor. With great views of Mont Dolent from the terrace, this is a great spot to relax with a cool beer on arrival.

DAY 9
Walk to Champex

A day of chocolate box villages and flower filled Swiss gardens begins by following the river gently downhill. One of the easiest stages of the circuit, the routes passes through the timeless village of Arlaches. Its medieval wooden buildings adorned with neatly packed flower boxes is a window into a bygone era of this region. Climbing out of the valley to Lac Champex, the picturesque waterside cafes and bars are definitely worth a stop before heading to your hotel.

Distance:15km
Ascent: 600m
Descent: 600m
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Glacier
The Bislex family have been welcoming walkers since 1895. Now in its fifth generation, the hotel has continued to provide comfortable ensuite rooms and an ever-changing menu of regional dishes to ensure trekkers are well fed. Located only a couple of minutes from the lakeside, its location is perfect for a post dinner stroll.

DAY 10
Walk to Trient

A choice of 2 stunning routes today. The official route follows the Bovine Trail which ascends through pine forests, over glacial rivers and across high alpine pastures where the famous ‘Swiss fighting cows’ graze throughout summer. Mid-way, stop off at the Bovine Hut which serves delicious home-made apple cake (along with excellent views over the Swiss Bernese Alps).

The alternative routes heads over the challenging Fenetre d’Arpette (2665m). Considered by many as the toughest day on the circuit, the ascent and descent follows a steep, exposed rocky trail across boulder fields and scree slopes. A day of real mountain adventure!

Trek the Bovine Route: 18km
Ascent: 900m
Descent: 950m

Trek via Fenetre d’Arpette: 15km
Ascent: 1200m
Descent: 1400m

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: La Grande Ourse
A typical Swiss trekker’s hotel, La Grande Ourse is simple, comfortable and located in the heart of Trient village. The private rooms and shared bathrooms are immaculate. Before dinner, enjoy an aperitif on the sun terrace with fellow trekkers.

DAY 11
Trient to Argentiere

It’s back into France today as a sharp but relatively short climbs heads over the Col de Balme (2192m). On the approach to the col, you’ll be rewarded with extensive views over Chamonix Valley and the familiar snow-capped peak of Mont Blanc. From here you can choose to relax on the terrace of the Col de Balme hut and take a direct descent to the valley. Alternatively, tackle one last short ascent onto the fertile ridge of Aiguillette des Posettes, to be rewarded with glorious views of the Mont Blanc Massif and Aiguille Rouge. Descending to the valley, enjoy a short journey to Chamonix aboard the Mont-Blanc express train.

Distance: 14km
Ascent: 1150m
Descent: 1000m
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel de la Couronne
Built in 1865 for visiting mountaineers, this 3* hotel has been welcoming guests for 150 years. Comfortable rooms have traditional décor along with an ensuite bathroom. Adjacent to the hotel is one of the Argentiere’s most popular restaurants and after a day of walking this means you’re only a short walk from the bar.

DAY 12
Argentiere (Tre-le-Champ), Lac Blanc to Plan Praz

A spectacular day of mountain walking begins with an ascent across forested slopes and onto steeper ground to the foot of a short section of fixed ladders. Being steeper ground, there are excellent chances to see agile Ibex mountain goats. Now, deep into the Aiguille Rouge Nature reserve, follow the trail to the idyllic setting of Refuge Lac Blanc overlooking the cobalt waters of the lake. Descending on rocky paths, the path narrows into the famous ‘Balcony Trail’ where you’ll enjoy largely unbroken vistas across to Mont Blanc range until you reach the cable car station of Plan Praz. Here, descend by cable car to your hotel in Chamonix.

Distance: 14km
Ascent: 1300m
Descent: 800m
Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Oustalet

DAY 13
Walk to Les Houches

The last day of trekking starts by returning to Plan Praz by cable car. Re-joining the trail, you have several options, which include hiking up to the Col du Brevent and onto Le Brevent (2525m). At the mountain top restaurant, snow-capped peaks and glaciers seem within touching distance. From here, if you prefer to take the day a little easier, descend to Chamonix on the Brevent cable car. Alternatively, continue by foot, descending into alpine woodland and the village of Les Houches. Return to Chamonix via the mountain train (or bus). With an abundance of traditional and global dining options, Chamonix is a great place to reflect and celebrate the completion of one of the world’s greatest treks.

Distance: 12km
Ascent: 600m
Descent: 1550m
Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Oustalet

DAY 14
Onward Travel

Depending on your onward travel arrangements, take a walk around Chamonix or indulge in a morning of freshly baked patisserie cakes and coffee before your departure.

Meals included: Breakfast

What’s Included

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Pack-free walking

  • 25+ years experience

  • Customised

  • Eco Travel

  • Walk pack free with luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation arranged for you
  • 13 nights accommodation in 3* hotels, simple hotels and/or mountain refuges
  • All luggage transfers
  • 13 breakfasts and 8 dinners
  • Maps, guidebook, GPX tracks and daily route summary
  • 24/7 telephone support
  • Itineraries can please flexible to account for weather conditions
  • One rest day is included, more can be added if you would like to further explore the region
  • Enjoy worry free navigation with Auswalk’s authored comprehensive tack notes and maps
Accommodation & Dining

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

OVERVIEW

During this tour you will stay in 3* hotels, small family run hotels, mountain auberges (small simple hotels) and/or a mountain refuge. With the exception of nights 4 and 10, all rooms are private with ensuite, on these nights the accommodation is limited and therefore bathrooms are shared, but from our experience they are always clean with a plentiful supply of hot water!

Should you also request a twin room, please note it is the norm in Switzerland for two separate mattresses, with individual bed linen to be pushed or together or even placed into one large bed frame.

All the accommodations are accustomed to welcoming trekkers and very well equipped to make your stay comfortable regardless of the weather conditions. Typically, rooms are simple but very comfortable. As many of the overnight stays are in small villages or towns, on occasion we may have to book another similar accommodation of equal standard. We will discuss these options with you during the booking process.

Single Rooms
The alpine trekking season is very short and therefore accommodation is very busy. Single rooms may not always be possible in every overnight stay, very often single rooms are not available in mountain refuges. We will endeavour to always try and meet your requirements. If you are travelling with family and/or friends but would like single rooms we would advise booking as soon as your plans are finalised to secure your rooming preferences.

Dining
You will be provided with 13 breakfasts and 8 dinners. If you have any food allergies or intolerances, please let us know at the time of booking so we can let your hosts know. Should you have severe food allergies, it’s always worth bringing a few of your own snacks with you. Especially as ingredients and supplies can be hard to obtain in the mountains.

You will find in many of the smaller accommodations, dining is very often on communal tables with set mealtimes. This enables small kitchen teams to ensure everyone is fed on time and nobody is left hungry after a long day of trekking! Lunches can be purchased locally which is a great part of the experience. The towns and villages you pass through are renowned for their speciality breads, cheeses and meats (many of which continue to be produced by hand). If you’re lucky enough to encounter a local farmers market, the choice and range of local foods is staggering. Many of your accommodations will also make a picnic lunch for you. A staff favourite is the Beaufort cheese from La Vallee des Glaciers, which you can purchase fresh from the farm. Within your daily walk notes, there are detailed suggestions of where to buy lunch each day.

General Info

GENERAL INFO

AVAILABILITY

In early July it is possible the trail might remain closed due to heavy snowfall. Should this happen we would do our very best to reschedule the tour for a later date (on occasion it is possible the tour might even be cancelled, but this is rare). Up until late July, some of the higher passes may still have snow on them (with the possibility of them being closed). Should this happen you will be provided with comprehensive information about taking an alternative route and/or local transport. In the event of any major route closures, we will contact you prior to travel and discuss the alternative walk options with you.

Towards the end of the season (early September) some transport options will have stopped operating for the season. You should therefore be prepared to walk the full distance every day. There is always the option of using a local taxi if necessary. Within your travel notes, advice will be given for all transport options to shorten or skip the walking for that specific day.

THE WALKING

You will be walking around 20km a day with up to 1500m of ascent and descent. Trails are well-defined, well waymarked and cover a variety of terrains which include; forest tracks, high alpine pastures, rocky mountain paths and through mountain towns and villages. It is also possible you may have to cross some snowy patches on the ascent or descent of higher mountain cols, so good mountain footwear is required! On days 12 and 13 there are short sections of metal ladders, handrails and foot rungs bolted into the rock which are very straightforward to follow. However, if you suffer from vertigo, or have any further questions about these sections, we’d be happy to discuss the options to get around these walks.

Although the route is well way marked for each of your walks, you will be provided with guidebook, a summary of daily walks, maps (and GPX tracks if you require to use for your own device). Mountain weather can change quickly so it is essential that at least one of your trekking party is confident in using a map and compass to navigate (should visibility drop). You should always be able to locate your whereabouts on a map.

LUGGAGE

Your main piece of luggage will be transported for you, so all you have to do is carry a daypack with the essentials you need for that day. On day 7, owing to the remote location of Rifugio Bonatti you will not have access to your luggage and will have to carry everything you need for the 1 night you are at Rifugio Bonatti. If you have any questions about this please contact our office and have a chat with our friendly team.

HOW TO GET THERE AND AWAY

This walk starts and ends in Chamonix. The closest airport Chamonix is Geneva Airport.

Geneva Airport (or city) to Chamonix
There are a number of regular private bus transfer services to Chamonix Valley from Geneva Airport. We’d recommend Mountain Drop Offs. We will supply you with a discount code for you to pre-book your required transfers to and from Geneva Airport with Mountain Drop Offs at the time of confirming your booking. If we can assist you with any airport transfers required, we’d be happy to do so.

Another useful planning tool for travel is Rome2Rio should you be travelling from or to other destinations.

Map

MAP

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Departure Dates

DEPARTURE DATES

  • DATES
    AVAILABILITY
    PRICE
    Single Occupancy
    DETAILS
  • 1 Jul 2020 - 30 Sep 2020
    AVAILABLE
    Details
    from

    $3895

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $950
Faqs

FAQS

Q: What happens if I don’t want to walk one of the days, can I travel with the luggage?

Unfortunately, walkers cannot travel with the luggage. The information we will provide you with details for local taxi numbers, bus and train timetables should you wish to not walk on any day. Your accommodation hosts will also have up to date information and advice should you wish to travel to the next destination by local transport. As always, you can call us at the office for any help during your walk.

Q: Where would you suggest adding an extra night?

Chamonix. There is an abundance of great walks on Chamonix’s doorstep. You can also take the cable car to Aiguille du Midi (a panoramic cable car which takes you from Chamonix, 1035m to 3842m with an excellent view point up to the summit of Mont Blanc). Courmayeur Like Chamonix, Courmayeur has a number of great trails on its doorstep. It’s pedestrianised town centre has plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can sample wood fired pizza with a Monte Bianco beer. From Courmayeur you can also spend the day journeying across the Mont Blanc massif via a mountain train and series of panoramic cable cars. Champex As there is very little to do in Champex it is perfect for resting the legs and hanging out by the lake with a Mont Blanc biere and lunchtime fondue.

Q: Can you extend our stay in Chamonix?

Of course, please let us know at the time of booking if you would like to extend your time in Chamonix.

Q: Can my children walk with me?

No under 16’s for this trip.

Q: Is this tour OK for solo walkers?

Unfortunately, this trek is not available to solo walkers

Q: We’re travelling as friends but would like single rooms?

Subject to a supplementary payment, single rooms are available. However, due to the limited accommodation single rooms might not always be available for every night of the tour, but we will let you know your options throughout the booking process.

Q: Can we reduce the days walked?

Of course, there are several sections you can omit to complete the circuit in a shorter distance. If you are looking for a shorter tour but without losing the experience our ‘Highlights of the Tour du Mont Blanc’ completes the tour in 8 days by employing a sensible combination of local transport links with the best sections of walking.

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