The beauty and majestic grace of the spectacular Mont Blanc region should be experienced by everyone on foot at some point in their lives. Thanks to this specially crafted walking itinerary, it can be. This trip is hiking at its most civilized combining both comfort and exceptional day walks, where you carry only a light daypack, that will surely increase your appetite for even more walking adventures. The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of Europe's most popular alpine trails and for very good reason. The extraordinary vistas of snow clad peaks with daily pass crossings, the chance to see playful marmots and chamoix along the trail and the contrasts of walking through three different countries are just some of the memorable aspects of this iconic route. During this delightful introduction to walking in the region you'll gradually ascend high alpine passes, breaking for lunch to absorb the panoramic views stretching from tumbling glaciers to meadows laden with colourful blooms. At the end of each days walk you'll relax and refresh in your private room in small gites and mountain hotels that are brimming with local charm and serve up regional flavours that compliment the walks impeccably.
MODERATE to CHALLENGING – GRADE 4
The walking is moderate to challenging (4) grade with daily guided walks of around 5-9 hours, between 8 and 15km and maximum ascents / descents of 1200 metres per day. There are some challenging stages during the walk with steep uphills, descents, and many sections of the trail which require care. The accent is on keeping a steady pace to with time to stop and take photos (subject to weather conditions). You will need a good level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. It is considered suitable for experienced walkers only. Early in the season (June) you may encounter snow on the passes which may be quite deep and alter the grading of the trip to challenging. At any time during summer, weather conditions may be variable and you should be prepared for all conditions including snow, ice, strong sun and extreme winds.
This morning we rendezvous with the group at Les Houches, and have a short briefing with our guide before commencing the ‘Tour du Mont Blanc’, the official name for our walk. The route begins with an ascent to the Voza passage (1653m) and then across the Bionnassay glacier in order to join up with the “knitting pass”, or Col de Tricot (2120m). As we descend into this high mountain pasture area, which is a mesh of fields, we find ourselves in a truly fabulous setting – face to face with the stunning domes of the Miage. Overnight hotel.
Leaving the pretty village of Contamines-Montjoie, our route continues along the ancient Roman road that leads us into the beautiful Nature Reserve of Contamines. We make our way through the “Bonhomme” mountain passage and have some fun making our way around Beaufortin and Tyrol, two mountains which form part of the French Alps. After taking in the magnificent views from the refuge Bonhomme, we descend to the valley floor and our gite accommodation at Chapieux.
Ascending a small road this morning, there may be opportunities to buy Beaufort cheese from the shepherds. We later pass through the City of the Glaciers (La Ville des Glaciers) – a magnificent place where the green of the pasture is covered-up by the ice. Following a steady ascent we reach the Seigne passage (2516m) where the ruins of a customs hut remind us that we are crossing into Italy. Here there is a first glimpse of the Mont Blanc massif from the southern perspective, and descending to the Vallon de la Lée Blanche, there are good views of the fabulous limestone and snow pyramid of the Grand Combin and the Estelette and Lée Blanche glaciers. In the afternoon we will enter a rocky landscape in stark contrast to the lush pastures of this morning ........welcome to the Mineral Kingdom! We descend to the roadhead and transfer to Courmayeur. Overnight hotel.
Following a short transfer by bus, our walk starts with an ascent through the high mountain pastures of Arminal, Malatra and Arnuva, before climbing up to Elena refuge where there are excellent views to the glacier and mountains beyond. The sight of the Pré de Bar glacier, (a glacier that boasts a perfect tongue formation), is with us all the way as we make our way to the Grand Col Ferret (2537m), and the whole atmosphere is out of this world, and despite the climb is a very rewarding section of the walk. The col marks the border of Switzerland and Italy and the trail becomes wider and more defined on reaching the border. The descent from the pass takes you to the valley floor and eventually the charming village of La Fouly. Overnight Hotel with shower.
This morning we transfer to Champex and begin our walk. We take the “Fenêtre d'Arpette” (2665m) route, which is a variant on the Tour du Mont Blanc and quite a challenge. The morning’s hike is almost completely uphill and the trail is not as well defined as on previous days but as with many pass crossings on this route, the rewards on a good weather day are extraordinary views, this time across to the Trient Glacier. This ascent will be one of the most memorable moments of the trek! From the pass there is an initially steep ascent before the gradient levels out to the Trient Valley. This evening will be spent in a gîte in Trient.
We make our way up the Balme mountain passage. You should have your cameras at the ready as you are afforded a fabulous view out over the Mont Blanc chain: you will be able to take some impressive pictures of “La Verte”, the Drus and the Needles of Chamonix. Descend to the Chamonix Valley, where we meet with our luggage early afternoon. Trip concludes.
This morning we rendezvous with the group at Le Tour, and have a short briefing with our guide before commencing the ‘Tour du Mont Blanc’, the official name for our walk. From the village of Le Tour, we take the scenic high mountain path of Balme heading towards Switzerland. Weather permitting you will be able to take some wonderful photos of the Mont Blanc chain including the impressive “La Verte”, the Drus and the Needles of Chamonix. You will cross the border between France and Switzerland before making your way down to the village of Trient for overnight accommodation.
There are two alternative routes between Trient and Champex. The first is via the Mountain of Bovine which involves crossing the Forclaz Pass (1527m) where there are beautiful lake views. The other, is The “Fenêtre d'Arpette” (2665m) route, which is a variant on the Tour du Mont Blanc and is quite challenging. In adverse weather conditions this pass is not recommended. The trail is not as well defined as the lower route but as with many pass crossings, the rewards on a good weather day are the extraordinary views to the Trient Glacier. The descent to Champex is steep though you will have the opportunity to have a hot shower at your lodge.
Although this is most definitely an easier day, it is also one that highlights some amazing natural beauty. Dry meadows, pools of fresh water, herds of cows and wonderful chalets surrounded by flower filled gardens abound. Swiss village life is all around and the lower valleys at the base of the Mont Blanc Massif provide a contrast to the high alpine meadows of the previous and following days. A further highlight of the day is the wonderful “Valais des Hommes” and the beautiful mountain views at La Fouly. Overnight in La Fouly.
The route takes you out of Switzerland and into Italy by the Grand Col Ferret (2537m) pass. It’s a steady climb and at the Col you will be awe inspired by the sweeping views of the Pre de Bar glacier. After some time drinking in the panorama you can amble down the steep track, passing by Refuge Elena and the mountain pastures of Arminal, Malatra and Arnuva. The views to the glacier and mountains beyond are excellent on a clear day. From the road head we take a bus to Courmayeur. Nestled at the end of Italy's Aosta Valley it is an atmospheric town which is worthy of some light exploration and a good place to taste the renowned and delicious Italian gelato..
If the weather is good, we'll continue on foot from Courmayeur towards Elisabetta Refuge by crossing the Checroui Pass (2185m), otherwise, a short bus ride on from Courmayeur will drop us at La Visaille from where we can walk up to the enchanting valley where the enormous Miage glacier flows down into Lake Combal. On the Italian side of Mont Blanc, one gains a completely different perspective of the highest peak in the European Alps. From the refuge its a steady ascent to the pass which marks the border between Italy and France, the Col de la Seigne (2516m). After taking in the view a short steep descent takes us to our accommodation for the evening in the Valley of the Glaciers.
This mornings walk takes you up mountain pastures to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2483m) where there are brilliant views southeast to the peaks of the Vanoise. The trail continues down to the Col du Bonhomme (2329m) and crosses the Contamines Natural Reserve. A sharp descent through a pine forest fringed gorge takes you to an ancient Roman Road and the church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, where there is a bus or taxi service to Le Fayet and Chamonix.
The 'Mont Blanc in Comfort' trekking trip was truly fabulous. Everything was great, the guide (Christophe) was excellent, all was well organised, accommodation and food was great, group was great .. - as you can see I have only praise for it!
A. Lazar, NSW, Australia
Excellent trip in beautiful weather,spectacular views,great trekking and comfortable accomodation. The description of "moderate to challenging" is accurate and made for a real sense of achievement on our return to civilisation.
J. Richardson., Wetherby, UK.
I was travelling solo and I chose the perfect trip with the perfect group of people. Amazing challenging picture perfect holiday. The best hike I've ever done.
B. Abbott., Trigg, WA. Australia
Per Person, Twin Share