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Hiking Tour du Mont Blanc

A 170km circuit that crosses the borders of France, Switzerland and Italy, the Tour du Mont-Blanc is a true hiking trail for nature lovers. Through the breathtaking landscapes of the Chamonix Valley, Aosta Valley and Val du Valais, you circle Europe’s highest peak without ever losing sight of it. The gites and refuges of Mont Blanc throw their doors open to you along this fascinating route, for which you can choose both the duration and starting point.

This hike around Mont-Blanc can be done in both directions of the circuit: anti-clockwise (the conventional way), and clockwise. You can set off from the starting points of your choice: Courmayeur in Italy, Champex (Orsières) or Trient in Switzerland, Vallorcine, Chamonix, Les Houches, Saint-Gervais, Les Contamines or Les Chapieux in France.

To book a refuge for each stage, choose your direction of travel here, your chosen date to set off and your starting point.
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Accessibility
Randonnée sur Le Montenvers. @ P. Jacques/hemis.fr
Randonnée sur Le Montenvers.

The Tour du Mont Blanc hike is suitable for all walkers in good physical condition. It can be customised according to the ability and preferences of each person:

The duration

The duration: is adaptable, from 5 days (half TMB) to approximately 12 days.

  • For those on a tighter schedule, there is the option of a half Tour du Mont Blanc in 5 or 6 days (North or South)
  • Access to public transport (cable cars, gondola lifts, buses and shuttles, trains) at each descent into the valley: Les Houches, Saint-Gervais, Les Contamines-Montjoie - Les Chapieux - Courmayeur - Ferret - La Fouly - Champex - Trient - Vallorcines - Chamonix Mont Blanc). This makes it possible to join a next step and thus shorten its route, or to return directly to its starting point.
  • For more accomplished walkers, there is the option to extend the itinerary by including « variantes », detours that are not part of the official TMB but are also marked.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Massif des Aiguilles Rouges. @ P. Jacques/hemis.fr
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Massif des Aiguilles Rouges.

Confort

  • For overnight stays, you can choose the level of escape you are looking for: from the authenticity of the mountain refuges to the comfort of an inn in the valley.
  • There is also the option to contact a taxi or minibus company to lighten your bags. Simply leave your luggage behind when departing your accommodation and have it waiting for you when you arrive at your evening destination.

Safety

  • A number of guides will offer their services for the duration of the hike.

Equipement

Required materials

Valais, Val d'Arpette, randonneuse à la Fenêtre d'Arpette. @ nattrass/iStock
Valais, Val d'Arpette, randonneuse à la Fenêtre d'Arpette.

  • If you’re heading off in high season – July/September: your walking shoes will be your greatest allies. To avoid overpacking, shorts and light trousers will suffice for the day. Take warm things for the evening. Trekking poles offer good support and a waterproof jacket is a must for possible rainy weather. And, of course, the must-haves for any mountain trek: sun cream, sunglasses, headwear and water.

    NB: The refuges offer blankets and quilts but ask walkers to bring their own sleeping bags.
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Refueling

  • Don’t weigh yourself down with heavy provisions, you will find more than enough to supply yourself with in each of the following valleys that cross your GR: Les Houches, Les Contamines-Montjoie, Courmayeur, la Fouly, Champex, Chamonix Mont-Blanc.
  • You can, of course, dine and breakfast in your overnight accommodation. Most will also prepare picnics if you book a day in advance.

When to go
Marcheur dans la vallée du Trient. @ J.-P. Azam/hemis.fr
Marcheur dans la vallée du Trient.

When to go

Between 15 June and 30 September, when the mountain refuges are open.
NB: It’s essential to book your refuge stays in advance.

The least frequented, and therefore quietest period, is the beginning of the season (late June) ; but please beware of the danger of potentially icy snow patches that may still be present on the mountain trails.

 

 

 

Where to stay
Refuge Bonatti @ J. Warburton Lee/hemis.fr
Refuge Bonatti.

Throughout your Tour du Mont Blanc GR® you’ll find accommodation dedicated to welcoming hikers. Gites or refuges are located along the passage points of your trail.

Most offer on-site meals, breakfasts, dinners or picnics (to be booked a day in advance), which helps to avoid weighing down your bags with excessive provisions.

The majority of accommodation options offer blankets or quilts, but increasingly request that you use personal sleeping bags.

Given the number of visitors to this GR®, booking accommodation in advance is essential.

Setting off

You can start your Mont Blanc Tour from several starting points:

Les Houches. © P. Jacques/hemis.fr
Les Houches.
Les Houches
With the exceptional panorama that it offers of the Aiguilles de Chamonix, Les Houches (1,008m) is the starting village of the "classic" Tour du Mont Blanc. The small resort is accessible by SNCF train or coach and, before setting off, you’ll find all the required amenities such as places to stay and eat, chemists and cash points. The Bellevue cable car starts from here, at the top of which you can easily reach either the «principal» TMB at Col de Voza (1653m) or the «variante» TMB heading to Col de Tricot (2,120m). Heading out of the village towards Chavants, you will find two large free car parks.
Saint Gervais Le Fayet, Le Tramway du MontBlanc, au col de Voza © D. Zylberyng/hemis.fr
Saint Gervais Le Fayet, Le Tramway du MontBlanc, au col de Voza
Saint Gervais les Bains
Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains is an extremely popular spa resort, now equally geared towards the high and medium mountains. By train you will arrive at Saint Gervais/Le Fayet station. From here, enjoy a ride on the Mont Blanc tramway to Col de Voza (1,653m), from where you can begin your TMB.
Les Contamines. © S. Lemaire/hemis.fr
Les Contamines.
Les Contamines-Montjoie
Les Contamines is a charming Savoyard village and one of the gateways to the Tour du Mont Blanc. The village can be reached via the Saint Gervais / Le Fayet SNCF station and bus services.
Free parking is available (resort centre or Pontet / 2 car parks).
You can leave Contamines on foot, along the Bon Nant stream to reach Savoie via the Cols du Bonhomme (2,329m) and the Croix du Bonhomme (2,479m). The GR passes before the Notre-Dame de la Gorge church, which warrants a look at the start of the hike.
Les Chapieux, massif du Beaufortain. © P. Jacques/hemis.fr
Les Chapieux, massif du Beaufortain.
Les Chapieux
Between Beaufortain, Tarentaise and the Massif du Mont-Blanc, the Valley of Les Chapieux Valley is the last Tour du Mont Blanc entry point before the Italian border.
Chapieux (1549m) can be reached via shuttle bus from Bourg-Saint-Maurice (SNCF connection). You can then walk to Chapieux to begin your hike, or head directly via the shuttle to La Ville des Glaciers before continuing to Col de la Seigne (2,516m). Plenty of free outdoor parking is available.
Courmayeur. © agustavop/iStock
Courmayeur.
Courmayeur
At the heart of the Aosta Valley, Courmayeur is the only starting point of the Tour du Mont-Blanc on the Italian side. You can reach it by train from Pré-Saint-Didier station, or by bus from Aosta or Chamonix Mont-Blanc.
Set off on foot from the historic centre of Courmayeur (1,226m) towards the Refuge Bertone (1,989m) and the Mountains of Saxony. Alternatively, take the shuttle from Courmayeur bus station for Val Ferret (terminus at Arnuva) from where you can start your Tour du Mont-Blanc.
Valais, Val d'Arpette, randonneuse à la Fenêtre d'Arpette. © J.-P. Azam/hemis.fr
Valais, Val d'Arpette, randonneuse à la Fenêtre d'Arpette.
La Fouly
In the town of Orsières, accessible by train, La Fouly (1,610m) is the first Swiss village offering food and accommodation. Parking options are limited. The TMB then embarks along the river, on a pleasant downhill course along the Swiss Val Ferret, before reaching the village of Champex-Lac, perched at 1,460m above sea
Valais, Val d'Arpette, randonneuse à la Fenêtre d'Arpette. © J.-P. Azam/hemis.fr
Valais, Val d'Arpette, randonneuse à la Fenêtre d'Arpette.
Champex-Lac
Accessible from Orsières (accessible by train) via a regular postal bus service, the charming village of Champex is situated around its beautiful fresh water lake. All services can be found there (food, sports items, post and cash point, accommodation, information, etc.). Free, open air parking is available at the exit of the centre.
The "principal" TMB offers a simple route to Bovine (1,975m), then Col de la Forclaz (1,526m).
The more daring who take on the "variant" will be rewarded for their efforts with the impressive views from Fenêtre d’Arpette (2,665m).
Village de Trient, massif du Mont Blanc. © J.-P. Azam/hemis.fr
Village de Trient, massif du Mont Blanc.
Trient
Nestled in its narrow Alpine valley, the small village of Trient is crossed right through the Tour du Mont-Blanc trail. It can reached on foot from all sides:
  • following the "principal" route via the Col de la Forclaz (1,526m), or in the opposite direction, from France, via the Col de Balme (2,191m)
  • via the "variantes" of the Fenêtre d'Arpette (2,665m) or in the opposite direction, from France and Vallorcine, via Catogne and Les Tzeppes.
Trient is accessible via the regular postal bus from the CFF train station in Martigny. Limited parking availability outside the residences.
Vallorcine, L'Express du Mont-Blanc. © D. Zylberyng/hemis.fr
Vallorcine, L'Express du Mont-Blanc.
Vallorcine
Vallorcine is the last village in the Chamonix Valley before the French-Swiss border, along the Chamonix Mont-Blanc – Martigny (CH) railway line. From here you can reach:
  • The Col de Balme (2,191m), a waypoint of the «principal» TMB, via the local trails and the Vallorcine cable car (partial opening during summer – Parking possible)
  • The Swiss village of Trient for the «variante», via Catogne and Les Tzeppes
  • The Col des Montets (1,461m), then Trélechamp to join the «principal» TMB route.
Chamonix, le Chemin de Fer du Montenvers, la vallée de Chamonix. © D. Zylberyng/hemis.fr
Chamonix, le Chemin de Fer du Montenvers, la vallée de Chamonix.
Chamonix
Chamonix is ​​the largest town in the Chamonix Valley. You will find everything you need here to supplement your equipment or supplies. As well as a network of very important trails, several "mechanized" solutions are available for your TMB departure:
  • From the hamlet of Praz-de-Chamonix, accessible by train or bus, you can reach Flégère (1,877m), via the Flégère cable car (ample free parking).
  • From central Chamonix, you can reach the Col du Brévent at 2,368m via the gondola lift (paid parking) to Planpraz (1,999m), or directly to Le Brévent (2,525m) via its cable car.
  • From the village of Tour, which can be reached by bus, the Charamillon gondola lift (ample free parking) and the Autannes chairlift are the options for the Col de Balme (2,191m), a waypoint of the « principal » TMB.
  • From central Chamonix, leave your car in one of the many secure, paid indoor car parks, or outside car parks (free and paid for) on the outskirts of town.
Other Mont Blanc circuits

There are many other hiking trails around Mont-Blanc. Discover the following example routes:

Trips to suit all tastes

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