This is the traditional 12 day, anti-clockwise Tour du Mont Blanc circuit, starting and ending at the village of Les Houches in the Chamonix Valley. Walk 11-18km per day, with some strenuous stretches but all sublimely beautiful ones, with a few options to transfer by cable car for a cool shortcut. Highlights along the way include crossing Col de la Seigne from France into Italy, reaching the tour’s highest point at Fenêtre d’Arpette (2,665m) followed by a descent alongside the Trient Glacier. Accommodation is in a mix of mountain huts in mixed gender dorms, as well as some 2-3-star hotels.
If you prefer to spend most nights in private rooms, most of them with en-suite facilities, take a look at our Tour du Mont Blanc Circuit in Comfort itinerary.
- Col de la Croix du Bonhomme
- Col de la Seigne
- Alpine towns of Chamonix and Courmayeur
- Grand Col Ferret
- Fenêtre d’Arpette
- Balcon des Aiguilles Rouges
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Day 1: Arrival in Les Houches
Welcome to the village of Les Houches, which sits on the banks for the river l’Arve just 6km from Chamonix.
- Accommodation: Hotel du Bois, 3-star (or similar), half-board
Day 2: Les Houches – Les Contamines | 4-5h
Take the cable car to Bellevue, making for an easier first day, cutting out the first ascent. The TMB path contours through the forest high above Bionnassay Valley while passing through pretty hamlets with excellent views of Mont Blanc and across the foothills of the Alps. The Dôme du Gouter and Aiguille de Bionnassay dominate the views with the impressive Bionnassay Glacier between them. Climb up Col de Tricot and start your descent following a series of switchbacks to Chalet de Miage. Following a riverside path, this is a beautiful approach into Les Contamines at the end of the day.
- Walking for the day: 4-5h, approx. 12.9km, ↑380m ↓1,010m
- Accommodation: Hôtel La Gélinotte, 2-star (or similar), half-board
Day 3: Les Contamines – Les Chapieux | 7-8h
Begin with a short transfer to Notre Dame de la Gorge, before traversing Col du Bonhomme and Col de la Croix du Bonhomme and descending into Chapieux Valley. Today gives remarkable panoramas of Aiguille des Glaciers.
- Walking for the day: 7-8h, approx. 15.3km ↑1,380m ↓980m (with transfer) / 8-9h without transfer
- Accommodation: Mountain lodge Auberge La Nova (dormitory rooms), half-board
PLEASE NOTE: If accommodation in Les Chapieux isn’t available, we will book you into a hotel in Bourg-Saint-Maurice with a supplemental cost. Depending on availability, the hotel would be either a 2-star or a 3-star with breakfast only. If this is the case, you can take the bus from Les Chapieux to Bourg-Saint-Maurice and return in the morning. In low season a private transfer may be required.
Day 4: Les Chapieux – Rifugio Elisabetta | 5-6h
During the high season, take advantage of the local shuttle to Ville des Glaciers, shortening the day. From there, embark on a hike over Col de la Seigne, crossing into the Italian side of the border. Throughout your descent, enjoy fantastic vistas of Aiguilles of Peuterey.
PLEASE NOTE: luggage transfer to your next accommodation is not possible today. Instead, it’s transported directly from Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elena where you stay on day/night 5.
- Walking for the day: 5-6h, approx. 14km, ↑1030m ↓390m / 10km with transfer
- Accommodation: Rifugio Elisabetta (dormitory rooms), half-board
Day 5: Rifugio Elisabetta – Courmayeur – Val Ferret – Rifugio Elena | 6-7h
Hike along one the most magnificent balconies of the TMB, until you reach Chécrouit Pass, where you’ll have the choice to descend to Courmayeur either by walking or by using a convenient cable car shortcut. Upon reaching Courmayeur, take the bus to Val Ferret. From here, it’s a short, pleasant walk to reach Rifugio Elena.
- Walking for the day: 6-7h, approx. 18km, ↑810m ↓1500m
- Accommodation: Rifugio Elena (dormitory rooms), half-board
Day 6: Rifugio Elena – La Fouly | 4-5h
Cross Grand Col Ferret, arriving at the quaint village of La Fouly in Switzerland. Take in the exceptional views over the spectacular Combins massif in the east and the Italian side of Mont Blanc.
- Walking for the day: 4-5h, approx. 11km, ↑485m ↓945m
- Accommodation: Hôtel Edelweiss, 3-star (or similar), dormitory rooms, half-board
Day 7: La Fouly – Champex-Lac | 5-6h
A tranquil hike through one of the most beautiful valleys of Switzerland’s Valais. Ascend towards the village of Champex (1,470m), home to a stunning glacial lake that shares the village’s name. Continue into the mountains to reach Val d’Arpette, a great place to enjoy the serenity of the landscape around you.
- Walking for the day: 5-6h, approx. 15km, ↑600m ↓500m
- Accommodation: Le Relais Arpette (or similar), dormitory rooms, half-board
Day 8: Champex-Lac – Vallée du Trient | 8-9h
Today’s journey leads to the highest point of your TMB adventure as you traverse Fenêtre d’Arpette (2,665m). Enjoy breathtaking panoramas as you continue along Trient glacier. In the event of inclement weather, an alternative route via the scenic Col de Bovine is highly recommended and offers a shorter yet equally rewarding day’s walk.
- Walking for the day: 8-9h, approx. 13km, ↑1,100m ↓1,350m, or 5-6h ↑770m ↓945m (shorter option via Col de Bovine, especially during bad weather).
- Accommodation: Le Grande Ourse (or similar), dormitory rooms, half-board
Day 9: Vallée du Trient – Le Tour | 6-7h
A morning trek over Col de la Balme means that you are rewarded with tremendous views back over to France as well as a panoramic vista of Mont Blanc and Aiguille Verte. There are two options for your descent to Le Tour, a higher route along the crest of Aiguillette des Possets, or a more direct route from Col de Balme following the Charamillon gondola line down to le Tour.
- Walking for the day: 6-7h, approx. 10.5km, ↑975m ↓810m
- Accommodation: Chalet du Tour refuge (dormitory rooms), half-board
Day 10: Le Tour – Chamonix | 7-8h
Take in the beauty of Balcon des Aiguilles Rouges, followed by a trek up to enjoy beautiful scenery from Lac Blanc. The journey today is adorned with natural highlights, including Aiguille Verte, Les Drus, Mer de Glace, Aiguilles de Chamonix, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Aiguille du Goûter, and, of course, the magnificent Mont Blanc itself. Descend to Chamonix on foot, or enjoy an easy ride down by cable car from Planpraz. You can opt to shorten the day by taking the cable car at La Flégère and a local bus (transfers not included).
- Walking for the day: 7-8h, approx. 16km, ↑1,450m, ↓917m
- Accommodation: Hotel Vallée Blanche, 3-star (or similar), bed and breakfast
Day 11: Chamonix – Les Houches – Overnight Chamonix | 6-7h
In good weather conditions outside the early season when snow risks are higher, you have an option to take the cable car from Chamonix to Planpraz and embark on the walk to Les Houches via Col du Brevent. Alternatively, after the end of June, you can opt for a cable car journey from Planpraz to Le Brevent, then descend to Les Houches. Take a train or bus from Les Houches back to Chamonix. The final option is to take this day as a rest day and explore Chamonix at your leisure.
- Walking for the day: 6-7h, approx. 12km, ↑520m ↓1,545m
- Accommodation: Hotel Vallée Blanche, 3-star (or similar), bed and breakfast
Day 12: Departure or extra nights
Chamonix is a great base to spend a couple of days, and we would recommend that you add some extra nights here. There is superb walking in Aiguilles Rouges National Nature Reserve, take the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi (3,842m) or the train to Mer de Glace.
What to expect
Accommodation is in traditional mountain lodges (refuges) for seven nights, sleeping in mixed gender dormitories with shared bathroom facilities. Four nights will be 2-3-star in hotels (in Les Houches, Les Contamines and Chamonix). Accommodation has been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism.
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Hotels are subject to availability. In the event of a particular hotel being fully booked for your chosen dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Half-board with breakfast and dinner is included in every accommodation except Chamonix (breakfast only). Lunch packs for next day can be pre-ordered at each accommodation.
Difficulty and terrain
This holiday is appropriate for experienced walkers and requires an excellent level of fitness; you will walk 5-7h a day (up to 9h on some days if you do not use the shorter alternatives) (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available on any date from mid-June till mid-September. Regularly updated weather forecasts for the area are available here and here. Detailed month-by-month climate info is available here. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking.
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Our recommended airport for this holiday is Geneva (GVA).
By train or bus
- Bu shuttle: Our recommendation is to take a shuttle with Mountain Drop-offs from Geneva airport, our Adventure Specialist can help you arrange this.
- By car: Take Highway A40, exit to St-Gervais-le Fayet and expressway (4 lanes) to Les Houches.
- Parking: You can park for free in the Prarion cable car station car park. If you’d like to park in Chamonix, where the trip ends, parking is free in the Planards car park.
- By train: From Geneva, take a train to Saint-Gervais-Le Fayet TGV station. From here it’s 17km to Les Houches and the journey on a local train takes around half an hour.
- 3 nights in 3-star hotels, 1 night in a 2-star hotel (private en-suite rooms) and 7 nights in mountain huts (dormitory rooms with shared facilities)
- 11 breakfasts
- 9 dinners
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (one piece of luggage per person, max 15kg) except on day four. Your main luggage will be transferred directly from accommodation on day three to accommodation for day five
- Private transfer on day three to Notre Dame de la Gorge
- Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and road notes; maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners on days 10 and 11, drinks and snacks
- Luggage transfer on day four
- Bus transfers and cable cars to shorten the walks (Courmayeur, Champex, Chamonix)
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
- If staying in Bourg-Saint-Maurice on day two before 25 June and after 27 August, private return transfer will be required with a supplement.
- If staying in Bourg-Saint-Maurice on day two accommodation supplement is required.
Options, extras and supplements
- If you’re travelling in a group, a supplement applies to group members who would like to have a room of their own – only possible for hotel accommodation
- We regret that this holiday is not available for solo travellers
- Extra nights in Les Houches or Chamonix
- If you prefer to spend all nights in private double/twin rooms, most of them with en-suite facilities – please consider our Tour du Mont Blanc from Les Houches in comfort itinerary.