Tour du Mont Blanc

France / Italy / Switzerland, Europe

Category

Multi-day trek

Type

DIY 

Duration

6-10 days

When

June to September (recommended)

Difficulty rating

7/10

What is it?

A spectacular, multi-day trek around Mont Blanc, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland.

 

Why do it?

  • This is one of the best-known long distance hikes in Europe and for good reason.

  • You’ll have a chance to enjoy stunning glacier and mountain views across the Mont Blanc range as you hike along beautiful trails.

  • Over the course of 6-10 days you’ll hike through three countries around the highest peak in Western Europe.

  • The route is well marked and easy to follow.

  • There are plenty of accommodation options and places to buy food so you can hike with a light pack.

  • You’ll get the chance to see ibex and chamois in the wild.

Who’s it for?

This is a strenuous trek and shouldn’t be underestimated but it is achievable for anyone with a good base level of fitness and the right level of preparation. Be prepared to walk for 7-10 hours today over undulating and challenging terrain.

 

The TMB isn’t a technical walk and doesn’t have any glacier walking, via ferrata or rock climbing which makes it ideal for those looking for a spectacular long-distance hike without needing mountain experience.

 

At a glance

  • Total distance: 106 miles (170km)

  • Elevation gain: approx. 32,940ft (10,040m) over the entire route

  • Expected duration: 6-10 days (dependent on fitness level).

  • Fun fact: The fastest completion of the circuit is currently 19 hours 1 minute as part of the annual UTMB.

When should I go?

 

Independent - the best time to attempt the Tour du Mont Blanc is between June to September. September is most likely to be the driest month. Note that during August the trails can become very busy.

 

Race - there is an annual race, the UTMB, which takes place annually in August. You’ll need to qualify to take part.

Route

 

WildBase recommend completing the traditional anti-clockwise route but it’s also possible to take on this challenge in reverse.

Map:

  • Pays du Mont Blanc – 1:50,000, Rando

  • Online map

Recommended guidebook: Tour of Mont Blanc, Complete two-way trekking guide

 

Route: The route is well marked but do not rely on the signs alone as there may be sections where the trail isn’t marked or where multiple trails head in similar directions.

 

Terrain: You’ll encounter mixed trails, gravel paths, forest roads, mud tracks and tarmac roads. The more mountainous sections will typically be single track and can be rocky.

Getting there

 

The traditional route starts and ends in Les Houches (7km from Chamonix, France) and the majority of people hike anti-clockwise.

 

Start and end point: Les Houches, France

 

How to get there:

  • The closest major airport is Geneva: trains, shuttles and private transfers are available (90km / 3 hours).

  • Access by train to Chamonix or St Gervais-le Fayet (TGV). There are regular bus and train services to Les Houches.

Where to stay in Les Houches:

  • If you are arriving after midday we’d recommend that you stay in Les Houches overnight before setting off on your first stage.

  • There are many accommodation options, including: hotels, B&Bs, campsites and hostels.

Accommodation

 

  • There are a variety of accommodation options available during the hike, including: mountain huts, refuges and camping options.

  • The mountain huts / refuges provide hearty cooked meals and offer packed lunches.

  • The facilities on the route are generally of a high standard and clean.

  • We’d recommend booking your accommodation for the first few nights as a minimum.

  • Search for accommodation at Autour du Mont Blanc.

  • Some mountain huts and refuges might not accept credit card so worth checking in advance.

Safety first

  • Right kit: ensure you carry all of the recommended clothing and equipment with you.

  • Weather check: check the weather conditions before you go. Rain is inevitable and you might encounter snow (at anytime of the year).

  • Off season hiking (winter months) can be extremely dangerous. Specialist equipment and support may be needed.

  • The trail is well marked but don’t rely on the signs. Carry the appropriate maps and guidebooks, especially for when the clouds have closed in.

  • Familiarise yourself with exit points from the trails.

  • Carry a fully charged mobile phone.

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