Tour du Mont Blanc Self-Guided Trek

12 days
from
£1,599
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Challenging
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Trip code: 
LTI
Way to Travel:
Self-Guided Adventures
Activity:
Self-Guided
Min age:
12

Trek the iconic Mont Blanc Circuit under your own steam

For those confident of their walking ability we offer the iconic Tour du Mont Blanc as a self-guided itinerary.

The majestic beauty of the surrounding scenery is best appreciated on foot as you walk point-to-point each day, staying in friendly hotels and auberges at night. Your main baggage is transported for you by van, and using comprehensive route notes you follow the well-marked trails across the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. The walking is challenging, but the views and the sense of achievement are well worth it!

Highlights

  • Admire spectacular views of Mont Blanc
  • Walk through 3 countries in 12 days
  • Quaint accommodation and local cuisine

Key information

  • 7 nights 2 and 3-star hotels, 3 nights auberges and 1 night mountain refuge
  • 10 days point-to-point walking with baggage transfers
  • 8 days challenging and 2 days moderate walking
  • Altitude maximum 2537m, average 1525m 
  • Self-guided holiday. Min. age 12 years

 

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 7 hotel/restaurant dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All baggage transport
  • Route notes

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Travel to/from the start/end points
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

10

Terrain:

Low altitude; good paths with some steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 210.0km/6.0miles
Day 317.0km/10.0miles
Day 413.0km/8.0miles
Day 515.0km/9.0miles
Day 617.0km/10.0miles
Day 713.0km/8.0miles
Day 820.0km/12.0miles
Day 917.0km/10.0miles
Day 1016.0km/9.0miles
Day 1112.0km/7.0miles

Responsible Travel

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… 

Itinerary

Chamonix
to
Chamonix
  • Day 1

    Start Chamonix

    Start at your hotel in Chamonix. Enjoy dinner (not included) in one of the town's many delightful restaurants.
    2-Star Hotel

  • Day 2

    Walk the balcony route to Argentiere; beautiful views of Lac Blanc

    From Chamonix walk to Les Praz and take the téléférique (cable car) to La Flégère (1,900m - 6230ft). The trail today is named the 'Grand Balcon Sud' and is on the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc, affording excellent views of the whole massif lying to your south. Initially the route contours and then climbs to reach the high point of the day, Lac Blanc (2352m/7715ft). The trail descends past the photogenic lac de Cheserys and then downwards again to Argentiere (1240m/3720ft). In the afternoon there is a very short section of ladders/steep steps with handrails to descend.

    2-Star Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Walk from Col du Balme to Col du Forclaz; views of Aiguille du Tour and its glacier

    A short walk to Montroc at the top of the Chamonix valley where the path begins the ascent to the Aiguillette de Posettes (2201m/7200ft), descends a little and then climbs towards the Col de Balme (2,191m/7190ft) where it crosses the border from France to Switzerland. Excellent views all morning of Aiguille d'Argentière and Aiguille du Tour and its glacier. You will then head to the small Swiss hamlet of Trient (1,296m/4250ft), with good views of the Trient Glacier. There is a sting in the tail today as you finish with a steep climb from Trient to our Auberge at the Col de la Forclaz (1527m/5010ft).

    Auberge

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Bovine Route to Champex through meadows and alpine pastures

    Leaving the Col de la Forclaz, with views directly down into the Rhône Valley and the Swiss town of Martigny the route follows an historic path used to take the cows to high pasture, the 'Bovine route' (2049m/6720ft). The trail takes you through meadows and high alpine pastures before descending to the charming town of Champex (1486m/4880ft) set beside a picturesque alpine lake.

    3-Star Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Walk to La Fouly; enjoy the wildflowers en route

    Now on the east side of the main Mont Blanc Massif the path turns south, descending through woods to the Val Ferret and on to Issert (1,055m/3460ft) and other small, pretty, alpine farming villages. This is a good day for flowers, including orchids. Continue up the valley to the remote village La Fouly (1600m/5250ft). This is at the foot of Mont Dolent, whose summit is at the meeting point of France, Switzerland and Italy.

    Auberge

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Walk over Grand Col Ferret towards Bonatti; night in a refuge.

    Still following the same valley and the river 'La Drance', the path climbs to the 'Grand Col Ferret' (2537m/8320ft), the highest pass of the tour. Now in Italy, the valley is also called 'Val Ferret'. The mountain views from the Col are stunning with the Grandes Jorasses dominating the scene. The path descends into the valley to Arp Nouva (1,770m/5800ft) then climbs and traverses a little to the refuge Walter Bonatti. (2025m/6640ft). The rooms are 2 and 4 bed. This is a splendid place to spend a night and is a true mountain hut experience (there is no baggage delivery to the hut!). There is the option to change this hut night to a hotel night in Courmayeur. Please inform your sales consultant if you would like to have this option. In this case baggage will be delivered. Depending on hotel availability there should be no change in price but dinner will not be included.

    Mountain Refuge

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Walk from Mont de la Saxe to Courmayeur. Spend the night in Courmayeur or La Palud

    If you spent the night in Courmayeur, after a short local bus ride you will re-join the path and climb to the Refuge Walter Bonatti. Walking from the Refuge (2025m/6640ft) the path follows a beautiful contouring route around Mont de la Saxe to Courmayeur. The views of the south Mont Blanc massif are exceptional as are those of the towering, cliffy peak of the 'Grandes Jorasses' and the glaciers which crowd the northern flank of the Val Ferret. In the afternoon there is a long and reasonably steep descent to Courmayeur (1,230m/4030m) a town that boasts superb ice creams!

    3-Star Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Walk over Col de la Seigne heading back into France to Les Chapieux

    After a short local bus ride to La Vissaille (1660m/5450ft) in the Val Veny the TMB path climbs gently beneath the massive glacier de Miage and past Lac Combal before the gradient becomes steeper again as it follows the old Roman road and heads 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 to la Ville des Glaciers (1,789m/5870ft) and finally after quite a long walking day to Les Chapieux (1,553m/5090ft), a small, remote hamlet inhabited only during the summer months.

    Auberge

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Climb to reach Col de la Croix du Bonhomme and onwards to Col du Bonhomme and Les Contamines

    Having now reached the southwest corner of the circuit the route turns north to climb once again. First there is a steep sustained climb to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2,478m/8130ft), before contouring around to the Col du Bonhomme (2,328m/7640ft). From here the path descends steeply through meadows and over a Roman bridge and finally to the village of Les Contamines (1180m/5900ft).

    2-Star Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    Col du Voza to Les Houches; challenging day of ascents and descents

    Today is a challenging day with plenty of ups and downs. From Les Contamines the path re-joins the TMB route ascending to the Chalets de Miage (1,560m/5120ft). From here the trail climbs steeply to the Col de Tricot (2,119m/6950ft) before descending and passing very close to the snout of the Glacier de Bionnassay. There are good views of the north side of the Mont Blanc Massif. The path then re-ascends to reach the Col de Voza (1,652m/5418ft) and ahead lies the Chamonix Valley and the final descent to the village of Les Houches (993m/3225ft).

    2-Star Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    Brevent to Chamonix; fantastic views of Mont Blanc

    Crossing to the north side of the Chamonix Valley the path climbs steeply through pine forest and then on open mountainsides to reach the high point of the day at Brevent (2,525m/8290ft). This is a long walking day but will probably afford the best views of the French side of Mont Blanc and its neighbouring peaks that will be seen on the whole trek. The path then descend to Plan Praz (1970m/6460ft) from where you can take an optional cable car to Chamonix (1,061m) for a well-deserved drink.

    2-Star Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    End Chamonix

    Check out of your Chamonix hotel after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

France

No visa required for British passport holders.

Italy

No visa required for British passport holders.
Please note in Italy it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times.

Switzerland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

France

There are no specific health risks.

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Switzerland

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

Included in the trip are all breakfasts and 7 hotel/restaurant dinners. Evening meals are taken in the hotel in which you are staying or a nearby restaurant. For dinners not included expect to pay €20 for a good 3 course menu (not including drinks). Lunch prices can vary depending on whether you have a picnic or eat in a restaurant, but €15 is a good estimate for a sit down meal. You can order a packed lunch from the hotel in which you are staying when you check in.

Typical Meals:

Continental Breakfast will normally include coffee, tea, hot chocolate, French bread, croissant and conserves.

Evening meal: 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.

Beer, wine, bottled water, other drinks, coffee or tea are not included in the price of evening meals taken in restaurants.

Vegetarians: Although vegetarianism is not common in this part of Europe and most meals are based on meat and fish there are no problems catering for vegetarians as long as they are prepared to be flexible. If you eat a vegan diet you should expect that the variety of food may be limited whilst on this trip. As this kind of diet is relatively uncommon in this region we cannot guarantee that the hotels and restaurants will provide meals that have the necessary variety to be considered satisfying when on a more restricted diet.

Drinks: Please note that drinks are not included and you will be expected to pay directly for any wine/tea/coffee taken at dinner.

Weather

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 especially on the high passes 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 valleys at night; possibly a little lower early and late in the season. There is always the possibility of snow, even in August, and in September trips may find snow on the passes. Please note that on late season treks (September) the days are shorter and you will need to make early starts to make the most of the available daylight hours.

Is this trip for you?

Activity level 5 - Challenging

10 days walking; 2 days Moderate, 8 days Challenging

Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc is a wonderful experience and challenge. Many choose to enjoy this trek with a guided group and this offers numerous advantages. If you think you would prefer trekking within a group being led by a qualified and informative mountain leader, Exodus run one and two week versions of the trip either camping orhotel based. Please see trip codes TWO, TWB and TWP. Some people prefer to trek independently, without the constraints of a group. Please consider carefully if this is for you. Although the Tour du Mont Blanc is a well trekked route please only book an self-guided trek if you are an experienced mountain walker and have trekked independently in challenging mountain terrain.

Please consider if you have the skills to remain safe in bad weather, bad visibility, snow and snow covered paths, steep, loose or slippery ground, possibly all at the same time. Although comprehensive route notes and local information will be provided, we would still expect travellers on this trip to have good navigational and first aid skills and be able to find and understand a weather forecast for the region and assess the dangers. Finally please be aware that not everyone will speak English. It is your responsibility to assess your own abilities and choose if it is safe to trek on any given day. On bad weather days you may need to turn back and take public transport to the next hotel. We will provide suggestions for this in the route notes.

The Tour du Mont Blanc has many variations and options and is not one set route. We have provided notes for what we believe is the best route. That said you may choose to follow variations and in which case our estimated timings and distances will no longer be valid.

Most of the days are long, quite often involving an ascent of 900-1200m (3000-4000 feet), equivalent to 3 to 4 hours walking uphill, followed by a similar descent. Although the paths are well maintained there are sections that are rough underfoot. You need to be confident that your fitness will allow you to enjoyably walk at a consistent and steady pace allowing you 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.

This trek is graded Activity level 5 - Challenging as it has 2 easier moderate graded days and 8 challenging graded days. A Challenging graded day would be equivalent to walking up Scafell Pike or Ben Nevis and take between 3 to 5 hours of walking up hill and up to 9 hours in total depending on the pace. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in good physical condition for the trip. Walking hours stated are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of your group.

We suggest this as a family trip for children over 12. That said, although there are on some days options to take public transport, please consider carefully the fitness of you children before booking this trip. If you would like further advice please do ask a sales consultant.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels, Auberges and 1 night in refuge

You will spend 5 nights in 2-star hotels , 2 nights in 3-star hotels, 3 nights in an auberge and 1 night in a mountain refuge. The hotels have ensuite facilities but depending on the availability there may be shared facilities in the auberge and refuge. Couples travelling together will have their own room but we cannot always say whether this will be twin or double or even very occasionally a room with bunk beds. It is also possible that on day six, Refuge Bonatti, and day 8, Les Chapieux, where availability of rooms are very limited that only shared dormitory space will be available. Dormitories are for the most part 8 to 12 bed rooms with separate bunkbeds. If you accept a dormitory option then we will put you on the wait list to be upgraded to rooms if a room becomes available. If it does not then we will refund you the difference in Euros locally at the beginning of the trip.  Single traveller supplement is not available for this trip. A single room is on a request basis.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

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  • Reviewed August 2016
    Irene Neilson

    Really enjoyable trekking with a nice mixture of types of accommodation

    Like all mountain trips, the weather is critical to enjoyment. Fortunately for us, we had only one day of really poor weather when even seeing signposts was difficult!! Else the scenery was truly fantastic all the way round. The accommodation varied a bit in quality but all of it was basically good and that, plus the many included meals, made the trip feel more like a real holiday - tired legs and any other issues were quickly forgotten as really hot showers, good food and clean crisp sheets revitalised the body! Walking clockwise against the flow was nice as you had a quiet period each morning when sometimes you were the only visible people on the trail. Navigation notes were generally good (though we also bought Kev Reynolds book on Mont Blanc) and baggage transfer by Besson Transport (though arranged through Exodus) worked well. Airport transfer was efficiently handled by Exodus recommended Mountain Drop Offs. It was a straightforward very rewarding trek. As regular hill walkers in Scotland we very much enjoyed the freedom of being 'self guided'.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    If you love mountains and get the weather, then all of it is inspirational as the views of the Mont Blanc range and the light on the mountains changes as you walk. Many of the hotel rooms had balconies so even there you are looking at really fantastic scenery, the snowcapped summits set off against brilliant blue skies.Our last day climbing up Le Brevant was a particularly warm sunny day and the views are indeed outstanding. All the treks over the various cols are great as the effort you put in to climb is rewarded by ever improving views of the mountains.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Not applicable as this trek was self guided. Theodora Udomritkul at the Exodus office was really helpful and sent us A4 size print outs of the scanned maps in the provided 'Route Notes booklet' as we found the latter too small to read. The local rep Mark we only met briefly in Chamonix the night before starting the trek. He was pleasant and simply ran over the route on the wall map at the hotel plus mentioned some high level alternatives to the prescribed route if the weather was good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    (a) Vegetarianism isn't that well catered for at a few of the hotels - for dinner you simply get the meat eater's main course minus the meat. This though is often preceded by a nice salad and vegetable soup so it isn't a big problem - just can be boring. Breakfasts are fine as continental so plenty of yoghurt, bread and cheese. (b) Poles are essential (c) There are high level alternatives that are worth considering if the weather is good. We found the Bovine Route to Champex a bit uninteresting and would have taken the high level alternative if thunderstorms hadn't been forecast. Likewise we very much wanted to do the Col Du Fours variant from Refuge des Mottets but that was a very bad weather day so couldn't. Nonetheless we did enjoy the regular route over Col des Bonhomme via Champieux to Les Contamines though starting from Les Mottets made it a particularly long day. (d) We just bought the ingredients for lunch in local supermarkets - bread, emmental cheese, yoghurt, apple and nuts. Our swiss army knife and plastic spoons/small plastic plates sound ridiculous but were great. We had a small insulated bag to put things in so tended to cater for two days at a time. (e) Didn't use our hydration packs. Found water bottles were enough and useful in the refuges at meal times (f) Best weather forecast site that a climber recommended to us was chamonix-meteo.com. Weather can be quite localised though. (g) At a refuge you take your boots off by the door and put on a pair of the provided clogs/sandals while inside. (h) Look at where you are staying online before you travel and work out the relation of what is said in the Route Notes to the hotel location for each night before you go. Exodus provides you with a print-out of your hotel location for each night but sometimes these directions were unclear.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We don't have anything against group treks having enjoyed several with Exodus but the Tour of Mont Blanc is definitely one that works really well as a self-guided trek. We wouldn't have done it as a guided trek but really enjoyed it as a self-guided trek. We booked quite late so it was great having someone else sort out accommodation and baggage transfer. The start/end Hotel Richemond in Chamonix is terrific- lovely old French charm. Thoroughly recommend the trek.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 020 8772 3936