This is the traditional 12 day, anti-clockwise Tour du Mont Blanc hut to hut circuit, starting and ending at Les Houches. Walk 11-18km per day, with some strenuous stretches but all sublimely beautiful ones, with a few options for cable car transfers. Highlights en route include crossing Col de la Seigne from France into Italy, the tour’s highest point at Fenêtre d’Arpette (2,665m), and a descent alongside the Trient Glacier. This is a Tour du Mont Blanc hut to hut tour, meaning you stay mostly in traditional refuges, in mixed gender dorms, with three nights in hotels. Luggage transfers on most days.
- Glacier de Bionnassay
- Col de Fours
- Mont Blanc massif
- Col de la Seigne
- Fenêtre d’Arpette
- Lac Blanc
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival Les Houches
Welcome to the village of Les Houches, just 6km from Chamonix.
- Accommodation: Hotel Saint-Antoine or similar, half-board
Day 2: Les Houches – Les Contamines | 7-8h
The first stretch of the TMB begins with a walk up to Col de Voza (although this can be shortened by taking the Bellevue cable car from Les Houches). From Col de Voza (1,653m) there are two options for the route to Les Contamines. The shorter, easier option is via Bionnassay or you can cross a suspension bridge over the glacial torrent from Glacier de Bionnassay and take the scenic high route over Col de Tricot (2,120m). Finish in Les Contamines in the Montjoie valley, famous for its cheese dairies which are worth a visit if time allows.
- Walking for the day: 17.5km, 7-8h ↑1,040m ↓860m (easier option by cable car: 13km, 5-6h ↑380m ↓1,010m)
- Accommodation: Chalet-Hôtel Gai Soleil or similar, half-board
Day 3: Les Contamines – Refuge des Mottets | 8-9h
Today the route reaches the highest point on the TMB (matched with the Fenêtre d’Arpette later in the trip) and begins with the ascent of three cols. Begin the ascent at La Balme, climbing Col du Bonhomme (2,329m), bearing left at Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2,483m) and hiking to the high point of the day, Col de Fours (2,665m). After enjoying spectacular views across the Aiguille des Glaciers to Mont Blanc, descend steep slopes (and possibly snow patches) to reach the converted dairy farm of Refuge des Mottets (1,870m).
- Walking for the day: 21km, 8-9h ↑1,675m ↓965m
- Accommodation: Refuge des Mottets (Mixed gender dormitory room with shared facilities), half-board
Day 4: Refuge des Mottets to Plan Chécrouit | 7-8h
Depart Refuge des Mottets and climb Col de la Seigne (2,516m) which marks the French-Italian border, and gives amazing views in all directions, including as far as Grand Col Ferret, which the route will cross in a few days. Descend into Vallon de la Lée, passing Rifugio Elisabetta (2,195m) and following streams to Lac Combal. The route climbs steeply to Col Chécrouit, offering tremendous views across the valley to the wall of peaks surrounding Mont Blanc.
- Walking for the day: 19km, 7-8h, ↑1,135m ↓1,250m
- Accommodation: Rifugio Maison Vieille (Mixed gender dormitory room with shared facilities) or similar, half-board
Day 5: Plan Chécrouit – Rifugio Bonatti | 6-7h
Descend into the mountain town of Courmayeur via the village of Dolonne, or alternatively, take the cable car down to shorten the walk. Heading out of Courmayeur along the grassy flanks of Mont de la Saxe, the route gives incredible views across Val Ferret to the rising mass of rock, snow and ice. This stage finishes at Rifugio Bonatti.
- Walking for the day:15.4km, 7-8h ↑1,100m ↓825m
- Accommodation: Rifugio Bonatti (Mixed gender dormitory room with shared facilities), half-board
Please note: If Rifugio Bonatti is full, accommodation will be booked in Courmayeur. If this is required, a supplement will be added to the cost of the trip.
Day 6: Rifugio Bonatti – La Fouly | 5-6h
Today’s hike takes you over Grand Col Ferret (2,537m), with the route heading out of Italy and into the rolling pastures of Switzerland. Take a break at one of the mountain lodges along the route before continuing on through idyllic Swiss scenery to La Fouly.
- Walking for the day: 18km, 6-7h ↑870m ↓1,300m
- Accommodation: Hôtel Edelweiss (Mixed gender dormitory room with shared facilities) or similar, half-board
Day 7: La Fouly – Relais d’Arpette (Champex) | 6-7h
Today marks the easiest day of this TMB, with much less elevation change than previous walks. The Dranse River accompanies you on your leisurely hike past high mountains, through forests, meadows and traditional mountain villages towards the valley. At the end of the hike, the Murmeltierweg (Marmot trail) takes you up to Champex-Lac, a mountain location famous for its expansive forests and crystal clear lake. Continue on beyond the village to reach your overnight stop, in the shadow of two mountains.
- Walking for the day: 17km, 5-6h ↑695m ↓665m
- Accommodation: Relais d’Arpette (Mixed gender dormitory room with shared facilities), half-board
Day 8: Relais d’Arpette (Champex) – Trient | 5-7h
Today’s journey take you to the highest point of your TMB adventure as you traverse Fenêtre d’Arpette (2,665m). Enjoy breathtaking panoramas as you continue along the remarkable 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 days walk.
- Walking for the day: 8-9h, approx. 15km, ↑1,195m ↓1,350m, or 5-6h ↑770m ↓945m (shorter option via Col de Bovine, especially during bad weather)
- Accommodation: La Grande Ourse (Mixed gender dormitory room with shared facilities), half-board
Day 9: Trient – Le Tour | 5-6h
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: 10.5km, 5-6h ↑975m ↓810m
- Accommodation: Chalet du Tour (Mixed gender dormitory room with shared facilities), half-board
Day 10: Le Tour – Refuge La Flégère | 5-6h
This is the most spectacular leg of the Tour du Mont Blanc. Using a combination of well-secured ladders and timber braced steps, climb steep rocks to reach Refuge du Lac Blanc. Enjoy panoramic views across the Vallée de l’Arve as you make your way to your overnight stop, perched high above the villages below.
- Walking for the day: 10.6km, 5-6h ↑1,150m ↓750m
- Accommodation: Refuge La Flégère (Mixed gender dormitory room with shared facilities), half-board
Please note: If the refuge is full, we can arrange accommodation in Chamonix, but this will incur a supplemental cost. A cable car can be taken from La Flégère down to the valley floor, where you can catch a bus into Chamonix.
Day 11: Refuge La Flégère – Les Houches | 6-7h
Follow the path across the Grand Balcon, one of the most scenic of all alpine paths, to Planpraz, which has a café at an altitude of 2,000m. Continue on to le Brevent, here it is possible to climb to the peak of Brévent, considered to be one of the best lookout posts for viewing Mont Blanc and to take in amazing panoramas of glaciers and peaks. Continue on the hiking trail to pass Lac du Brévent and descend to Refuge Bel-Lachat, a good rest spot before resuming the steep descent. The final section of the day skirts the Parc de Merlet forest before finishing in Les Houches.
- Walking for the day: 16.5km, 6-7h ↑750m ↓1,650m
- Accommodation: Hotel Saint-Antoine or similar, half-board
Day 12: Departure
Departure or extra nights in Chamonix.
What to expect
Accommodation on this tour is primarily traditional mountain huts, known as refuges. Refuges are often in remote locations, offering a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquil mountain surroundings and meet fellow walkers along the route. These huts are often quite basic accommodation, with mixed gender dormitories and shared bathroom facilities. The first, second and last nights of the trip will be in a 2-3-star hotel with a private room. All accommodation has been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism.
Click to view default hotels
- Hotel Saint-Antoine
- Chalet-Hôtel Gai Soleil
- Refuge Des Mottets
- Rifugio Maison Vieille
- Rifugio Bonatti
- Hôtel Edelweiss
- Relais d’Arpette
- La Grande Ourse
- Chalet du Tour
- Refuge La Flégère
Accommodations are subject to availability. In the event of a particular accommodation being fully booked for your chosen dates, we aim replace it with an accommodation of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
All breakfasts are included. Lunch packs for the next day can be pre-ordered at each accommodation. Most of the accommodations on this itinerary are in rural locations, so dinner is included on each night of the trip.
Difficulty and terrain
This holiday is appropriate for experienced walkers and requires an excellent level of fitness; you will walk up to nine hours on some days. There are some exposed sections – enduring sure-footedness, and head for heights are a must (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to 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 from the middle of June until the middle of September. 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.
Please note that availability may be limited during big events such as the UTMB trail running event at the end of August.
Click to view travel options
Our recommended airport for this holiday is Geneva (GVA).
By train or bus
- By airport 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 (four 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.
- Eight nights in mountain huts with mixed gender dormitories, two nights 3-star hotels and one night in a comfortable guesthouse (private en-suite rooms where possible).
- 12 breakfasts and 11 dinners
- Detailed holiday information pack including GPS checked and regularly updated route descriptions and road notes; maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked (provided only digitally as access to our Navigation app)
- Luggage transfers between accommodations except on days 5 and 10 (one piece of luggage per person, max 15kg)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, drinks and snacks
- Buses, transfers and cable cars to shorten the walks
- 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
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 applies to nights in Les Houches, Les Contamines and Trient)
- We regret that this holiday is not available for solo travellers
- Extra nights in Chamonix and Courmayeur