Tour du Mont Blanc Week
Trek famous circuit in one week from Switzerland to France
Reviews 10 Reviews5/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Small Group
The Mont Blanc Circuit is deservedly one of Europe’s classic walks, circumnavigating western Europe’s highest mountain. This exciting itinerary concentrates on some of the most spectacular sections of the circuit, thus enabling us to produce a hard and exhilarating one-week trip for the trekking enthusiast. Overnighting in simple family-run accommodation, we trek clockwise around the Mont Blanc Massif, enjoying hearty local cuisine from three countries, phenomenal views and some of Europe’s best walking.
* All breakfasts and 6 dinners
* 5 nights 2 and 3-star hotels, 2 nights inns
* All transport (light backpacking; some steep ascent/descents) and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout
* Airport transfers (at designated times)
- Single Accommodation (not available)
- A ‘fast and light’ week of the Classic Mont Blanc circuit
- Spectacular views of the Mont Blanc
- Three countries in one week
Start Col de la Forclaz.
Start at the designated hotel at Col de la Forclaz, Switzerland. A short (unguided) walk to view the Trient Glacier is an option this afternoon, depending on arrival time. In the evening there is an introductory briefing by your leader and time to spilt bags between items to be delivered to the hotel in Chamonix, for the end of the trip, and things you will carry with you. Hotel at Col de la Forclaz, Switzerland.**
Follow Bovine Route to the pretty village of Champex Lac and on to Orsières.
We leave the Col de la Forclaz (1527m – 5010ft) from where we can look directly down into the Rhône valley and the Swiss town of Martigny. Following our path through the forest and up to high alpine pastures (great for flowers in the early season) the ’Bovine route’ (2049m – 6720ft) affords dramatic views over Swiss peaks and valleys. After lunch we descend to Champex (1486m – 4880ft) and the east side of the Mont Blanc Massif. Walking south we descend through woods to the Val Ferret and on to Orsières (887m – 2910ft), a pretty alpine village nestled in the valley at the foot of the St Bernard Pass. Hotel in Orsières (Switzerland).8.5 hours walking time including breaks and lunch etc. 730m – 2400ft up, 1300m – 4260ft down
Short bus transfer to La Fouly and climb to the highest point (2536m), Grand Col Ferret, and descend into Italy.
We hop aboard the local bus to rejoin the TMB at the village of La Fouly (1600m 5250ft) dominated by the glaciated face of Mont Dolent, whose summit is the meeting point of the French, Swiss and Italian borders. Still following the valley and the river ’La Drance’, we climb steadily to the ’Grand Col Ferret’ (2537m – 8320ft), the highest pass of the tour. The mountain views from the Col are stunning with Grandes Jorasses dominating the scene. Now in Italy, we descend into the valley also called ’Val Ferret’ (1760m – 5770ft ) then travel by bus to our hotel in La Palud. Hotel in La Palud (Italy).7.5 hours walking time including breaks and lunch etc. 3180ft up, 800m – 2600ft down
Trek from Val Veny over Col de la Seigne to Les Chapieux (1549m).
We travel by bus to La Visaille (1,660m – 5450ft) then climb gently along the Val Veny beneath the massive glacier de Miage and pass Lac Combal. The gradient becomes steeper as we follow the old Roman road and head for today’s pass: the ’Col de la Seigne’ (2,516m – 8250ft), which marks our re-entry into France. A fairly steep descent brings us through La Ville des Glaciers (1,789m – 5870ft) and finally after a long walking day to Les Chapieux (1,553m – 5100ft), a small hamlet inhabited only during the summer months. Auberge in Les Chapieux.8.5 hours walking time including breaks and lunch etc. 870m – 2840ft up, 970m – 3180ft down
A tougher day over two cols; Croix du Bonhomme (2443m) and Col du Bonhomme (2329m); descend to Les Contamines.
By now we have now reached the southwest corner of the circuit and we turn north to climb once again. Today is a big day, first we ascend to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2,479m – 8130ft), then contour across to the Col du Bonhomme (2,329m) and finally descend again on a Roman road into the Val Montjoie and the town of Les Contamines (1,175m – 3860ft). Our path continues through the village and we arrive at our overnight stop with time for a well-deserved cold drink. Auberge in Les Contamines.8.5 hours walking time including breaks and lunch etc. 930m – 3050ft up, 1340m – 4400ft
Over the Col du Tricot to the Chamonix Valley.
Another big day! Our route continues with a steady ascent to the Chalets de Miage (1,560m – 5120ft), a great spot to sample some home cooked delicacies. From here we take a trail that climbs steeply to the Col de Tricot (2,119m – 6950ft) before descending very close to the snout of the Glacier de Bionnassay with good views of the north side of the Mont Blanc Massif. Eventually we make another ascent to reach the Col de Voza (1652m – 5420ft) where we re-enter the Chamonix Valley, and finally descend to the village of Les Houches (993m 3260ft) and take the bus to our hotel. Hotel in Chamonix.8.5 hours walking time including lunch and breaks etc. 1200m – 3980ft up, 1370m – 4500ft down
Final day trekking past Lac Blanc (2352m) before descending to Chamonix.
Our final day presents perhaps one of our most spectacular walks; trekking a section of the Grand Balcon Sud route past the beautiful and photogenic Lac Blanc (2352m – 7715ft) with grand vistas over the Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc behind. Our route will then drop sharply down to Chamonix (1,030m) and the end of our trek. Hotel in Chamonix.8 hours walking time including breaks and lunch etc. 900m – 2950ft up, 1330m – 4370ft down
Following breakfast we say our goodbyes.
Hotels & Inns
Throughout the trek we use long-established family run 2 and 3-star (equivalent) hotels and inns. Most of the hotels/inns sit in stunning locations often with panoramic vistas over the mountains and culturally represent the countries and environment they are in. These hotels are a vital source of income to the local community. All are clean and well run and set up with the needs of the trekker in mind. Single rooms not available
Please be aware that room sizes (twin, double or very occasionally triple or quadruple rooms) and facilities will vary from hotel to hotel and sometimes from room to room within one property and occasionally there may be bunkbeds. On 4 of the nights facilities are en suite whilst the others have the possibility, depending on availability and group size, of shared bathroom and toilet facilities ‘on the landing’. Couples will always have their own room but we cannot guarantee whether this will be twin or double. Single clients must be prepared to share with one or occasionally two or three other members of the same sex. We are unable to accept bookings for single rooms due to the small size of the hotels used and the fact that we are usually staying only one night in each property. On day 4, due to limited availability, it is very rare, but occasionally, necessary to sleep in dormitories. If this is the case we will endeavor to let you know before booking.
All breakfasts and dinners are included except dinner in Chamonix on day 7 of the itinerary.
Breakfast: Will usually consist of coffee, tea, cereal, yoghurt, fresh fruit, bread, and conserves.
Lunches: No lunches are provided but can easily be bought locally from either shops or the hotel/refuge.
Evening meal: Generally consists of a first course of soup, salad or charcuterie, a main course of meat with one or two vegetables or rice or pasta, a dessert course. Drinks are not included in the price of evening meals.
Vegetarians: We happily cater for vegetarians but please inform us at the time of booking.
If you take a vegan diet we recommend that you bring supplementary food and should expect that variety of food may be limited whilst on this trip. Unfortunately it is relatively uncommon in this region and we cannot guarantee that the hotels will provide meals that have the necessary variety to be considered satisfying when on a more restricted diet.
This trip is Activity Level 5 – Challenging. Some of the days are long, quite often involving ascents of 900-1200m (or 3000-4000 feet), equivalent to 3 to 4 hours walking uphill, followed by similar descents, amounting to 8 to 9 hours of walking each day (including rest stops and lunch). Although the paths are well maintained there are sections that are rough underfoot.
As this is a group holiday you need to be confident that your fitness will allow you to enjoyably walk at a consistent and steady pace that matches the group average, therefore allowing the group to finish the day at a reasonable time. You will also enjoy the trek a great deal more if your fitness allows you to walk the route in relative ease. You will have to carry your own gear with you (there is no vehicle support), but this need not weigh more than 8 to 10 kilos if you pack carefully.
The route throughout is non-technical, although there is a short section with a fixed sloping ladder and metal footsteps to help traverse what would be a steeper section. We will be walking mountain paths throughout however and this trip is not advised for severe vertigo sufferers.
If you are unable to walk during the itinerary and want to opt out of a day, please take note that this can sometimes be a little tricky dependent on where on the circuit you are. To reach the next point you will need to take a public bus (which run at limited times) or taxi (which can be expensive when in a more remote location). Our support vehicle is not suitable for taking passengers so please be aware of this when deciding to book this trip.
All ascents, descents and walking distances listed below are approximates. We have decided the most accurate method is to map the routes carefully using google earth. That said it is impossible to obtain a completely true figure of the distances walked. Regarding GPS – due to the inherent inaccuracies of defining an exact waypoint with a GPS and the cumulative overall inaccuracy this causes, you may find that our distances and GPS distances you obtain on trek with your personal GPS/phone, may differ by quite a margin.
Please note: On this trip it is essential to have helicopter evacuation cover within your travel insurance.