Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Week Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
France, Italy, Switzerland
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TWP
Activity Rating - Challenging
Challenging

You have a good level of fitness and are looking for a physically challenging holiday.  Previous experience is essential for activity based trips.

8 Days Flight Inclusive
8 Days Land only
18 Min age

Trip Overview

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.

At a Glance

  • 5 nights 2 and 3 star hotels, 2 nights Inns
  • 6 days point-to-point walking
  • Light backpacking; some steep ascent/descents
  • Altitude maximum 2537m, average 1400m

Trip Highlights

A 'fast and light' week of the Classic Mont Blanc circuit

Spectacular views of the Mont Blanc

Three countries in one week

Is This Trip for You?

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.

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.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Group

We provide a qualified International Mountain Leader to escort the group on each walking day. Our walking leaders are true mountain professionals as well as being skilled group leaders. This not only helps to assure safety on the mountain but also that your leader has experience and knowledge in wider mountain environment such as flora and fauna, geology, weather and local customs.

Adult min age:
18
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
14

Itinerary

Mont Blanc Circuit

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    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.

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 2

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 18 km / 11 miles
  • Day 3

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 14 km / 9 miles
  • Day 4

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 20 km / 12 miles
  • Day 5

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 19 km / 12 miles
  • Day 6

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 17 km / 11 miles
  • Day 7

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 16 km / 10 miles
  • Day 8

    End Chamonix.

    Following breakfast we say our goodbyes.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

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 endeavour to let you know before booking.

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts and dinners are included except dinner in Chamonix on day 7 of the itinerary.

Typical Meals

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.

Transportation

All transport mentioned in the itinerary is included. We use a variety of transport to facilitate our route around the circuit; this includes local buses and taxis. For the transfers to and from Geneva airport we normally use a private coach.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

From late June to early October fair weather is to be expected, but all mountain ranges create their own weather patterns and the Alps are no exception. It can and does rain and on the high passes especially it can be surprisingly cold at times. Expected daytime temperatures are in the range of 15 to 25ºC in the valleys (although it can sometimes reach 30ºC in July/August), 5 to 15ºC on the passes (though it will feel colder if wet and windy) and 5 to 15ºC in the valley at night; possibly a little lower early and late in the season. There is always the possibility of lying snow, especially in the early season, and snowfall even in August and September when we may find new snow on the passes. Please note that on late season treks (September) the days are shorter and we will need to make early starts to make the most of the available daylight hours.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 8 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London
We normally use the scheduled services of Swiss International Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 8 days starting in Col de la Forclaz and ending in Chamonix

Your trip normally starts at the hotel in Col de la Forclaz on Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided it the Final Joining Instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Low cost airlines
It is possible to fly direct to Geneva with some budget airlines. It is likely that flights from regional airports will arrive at different times to the group flight from London; where this is the case a wait at the airport for the group transfer, or alternative transfer arrangements at your own cost, may be necessary (see below).

Alternative flight options: Bristol, Manchester, Gatwick, Luton, Liverpool, Edinburgh ‐ Easyjet. East Midlands ‐ BMI baby. Heathrow ‐ BA. City, Heathrow ‐ Swiss Air.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Airport Transfers for land only itinerary

Those arriving/departing on non‐group flights can join the group transfer free of charge (by prior arrangement only) if your flight arrives before or, at the end of the holiday, departs after the group flight. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if it has been booked for you by Exodus. Please check with the Exodus office if you are unsure whether or not a transfer is included. As mentioned group flights can be rescheduled, so you must check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense. 

For those arriving at different times to the group flight it is very easy to book a bus transfer with a local company and you should do this at least a week before your departure date. A shared transfer (with others who have booked with them also) will cost approximately €30 one way if booked in advance with our partner Mountain Drop Offs. Book on their website ‐ www.mountaindropoffs.com and quote the following promotional code EXO18. Unfortunately, the discounted rates only run from 17 June to 10 Sept. Outside this time the full price will be charged.

Take The Train

For those arriving at different times to the group flight it is very easy to take the train directly from Geneva airport to Martigny, Switzerland and from there use a local bus or taxi to the start hotel. Details of train/bus times and prices can be found at the following website: http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html. 

Journey time is approx. 2 hrs. 30mins and it costs around 58CHF. A taxi from Martigny to the Col de la Forclaz is approx. 60 CHF.

It is only possible to reserve train seats 3 months before your departure date and our sales team will be happy to book this for you in cooperation with Rail Europe. 

Location start:
Col de la Forclaz
Location end:
Chamonix

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Rucksack of 40-60 litres capacity

Walking boots

Waterproof rucksack liner or bin-bag

Small wash kit

Head-torch

Waterproof jacket and waterproof over-trousers

Water bottles (at least 2 litres capacity)/ Camelbak

Sunhat, sun cream, sunglasses

Warm hat and gloves

Lightweight down jacket or warm fleece top

Walking poles x 2

 

Optional Equipment

Gaiters

Pair of light weight shoes/sandals/flip flops for evening time

Book

Swimming costume/trunks (swimming in lakes!)

Earplugs

Following a briefing by your leader on the evening of day 1 of the itinerary, you will be given time to arrange your baggage. All of the above should be taken with you on trek, however if you wish to have a small bag taken with extra clothes directly from the Col de Forclaz to be waiting for you when arrive in Chamonix on day 6, please clearly label this separate bag. We recommend that you take any valuables with you.

Reading List

Tour of Mont Blanc written by Kev Reynolds. Published by Cicerone Press 

Maps

The recommended maps for this trek are the two sheets 3630 Ouest and 3531 Est issued by IGN series at a scale of 1:25,000. The best alternative is the single sheet 1:50,000 map issued by Rando-Editions `Pays du Mont-Blanc' (sheet A1). Any other maps need several sheets to cover the area.

Walking and Trekking Holidays

Practical Information

Passport

Most nationalities, including British, require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

No visa required for British passport holders.

Please note in Italy it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Please note: On this trip it is essential to have helicopter evacuation cover. 

If you are a UK citizen and travelling in Europe you should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your Post Office. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance.

Local Time

Switzerland's Timezone:
Europe/Zurich CET (GMT +01:00)
Italy's Timezone:
Europe/Rome CET (GMT +01:00)
France's Timezone:
Europe/Paris CET (GMT +01:00)

Electricity

Switzerland's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins. 230 Volts AC. Switzerland also has a 3 round pin plug, which includes a grounding pin (type J). 

Italy's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins.

France's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins. 230 Volts AC.

Money

Switzerland's Currency

The national currency of Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (CHF), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (June 2017) of approximately 1.2 to the GBP,  0.96 to the USD, 0.74 to the CAD, 1.1 to the EUR, 0.73 to the AUD and 0.69 to the NZD.

Italy's Currency

The national currency of Italy is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.2 to the UK£ and 0.9 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

 

France's Currency

The national currency of France is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (October 2017) of approximately 1.1 to the GBP,  0.84 to the USD, 0.67 to the CAD, 0.66 to the AUD and 0.59 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

There are ATMs at Geneva airport and in Chamonix town centre, however for convenience we advise that you bring Euros in cash with you. There are some other cash points along the route and your leader will be able to advise you where these will be.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

While walking in Switzerland drinks and snacks can be bought in Euros, so it is not necessary to have Swiss Francs. If you prefer to pay in CHFs you can obtain them from ATMs or possibly exchange Euros for CHFs through the group leader.

Tipping

Although optional, a tip for the leader and chalet staff at the end of the trip is greatly appreciated. The sum you choose to give is entirely personal, but as a reasonable starting point, we suggest a contribution from €20 (US$22) per leader. Smaller groups may wish to give a little more per person. It is customary and appreciated to leave a small tip when settling your drinks bill at group meals in restaurants.

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

 

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.