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Hiking on the roof of Europe – Tour du Mont Blanc

Kee Yip (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Hiking on the roof of Europe – Tour du Mont Blanc

Hiking Collection by Chloé Perceval

7

Tours

67:13 h

104 mi

30,925 ft

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), one of the most well-known GR footpaths in Europe, takes you 170 kilometres (105 mi) along magnificent trails between France, Italy and Switzerland. Three countries, seven days of walking, and a succession of breathtaking landscapes. The scenery changes frequently, allowing you to discover the Alp’s true variety. You plunge into the heart of glacial valleys, climb sumptuous passes, cross alpine pastures, forests and mountain villages, all while enjoying breathtaking views of Mont Blanc. This hike is impressive.

In this Collection, I propose a seven-step itinerary which is quite challenging but also leaves plenty of time to enjoy all that the route has to offer. You can of course do the TMB at your own pace. There are many refuges and gîtes along the way, allowing you to tailor the hike to your needs. The TMB has few technical passages and is suitable for anyone who is in good shape. This itinerary follows the main route of the TMB in the classic direction of walking (counter-clockwise).

Each stage of this hike ends at a refuge, which is part of what makes the TMB so special. You can enjoy delicious local food and products, but you’ll need to have a certain affinity to cheese to fully enjoy it. For those who prefer to pitch a tent, I suggest bivvy and camping options wherever possible. I did part of the TMB with a bivvy bag and would strongly recommend splitting the nights between camping and refuges.

Bear in mind that bivvying is not permitted across the TBM. The rules concerning bivvying are as follows:

- In France, bivvying is authorised in dedicated areas;
- In Switzerland, it is forbidden to bivvy;
- In Italy, bivvying is allowed above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) of altitude.

The route starts at the train station in Les Houches. You can get there by train or by bus. If you drive to Les Houches, you can park in the free parking dedicated to the TMB next to the Prarion gondola, and join the trail directly from there. If you arrive a day before you set off, you can easily find a place to stay in Les Houches either in a campsite or hotel. The trail also ends at a train station.

In addition to the maps in this Collection, you regularly find road signs with the letters TMB along your hike, indicating that you are on the right track.

I recommend doing the TMB between mid-June and mid-September when the mountain huts and gites are open. Book your nights in a refuge, especially if you plan to hike during the high season between 14th July and 15th August. From the end of June until the beginning of September, the TMB is calmer and the temperatures are milder. Avoid planning your hike during the last week of August when the series of races of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) take place.

General information about the TMB (accommodation, map, reservations): autourdumontblanc.com

Information about the bus lines to Les Houches: chamonix.montblancbus.com/fr/ligne-de-bus

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    09:03
    16.3 mi
    1.8 mph
    5,125 ft
    2,775 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This first day starts at Les Houches SNCF station, where you can arrive by bus or train. If you come by car to Les Houches, you can park in the parking lot dedicated to the TMB, next to the Prarion cable car, and join the path directly.After crossing Les Houches, you start the climb to the Col de Voza. …

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  • Difficult
    10:53
    15.8 mi
    1.5 mph
    6,000 ft
    4,450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    A very nice stage that takes you to the top! From the Balme hut, you start by going up to the Col du Bonhomme, at 2,329 m altitude. A superb path then takes you to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme and its refuge, at an altitude of just over 2,400 m. The panorama is splendid, you can see …

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  • Difficult
    08:54
    12.5 mi
    1.4 mph
    4,000 ft
    4,675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    A magnificent third stage, which I personally really loved. You start in the Italian Vény Valley, surrounded by glaciers, alpine lakes and towering peaks. A mountain path takes you to altitude. This is a passage that I personally found quite unreal. I had this great feeling of walking alongside the glaciers of this valley! It’s also really nice to cross what is the ski resort of Courmayeur in winter.

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  • Difficult
    07:35
    13.1 mi
    1.7 mph
    3,650 ft
    3,325 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    A superb stage through the Italian Val Ferret, which takes you to Switzerland.Throughout this stage, you take superb mountain trails, surrounded by glaciers and peaks. The views never cease to be breathtaking. It is not uncommon for you to come across a few herds of cows as well.The challenge of the day is the passage of the Grand …

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  • Difficult
    07:25
    13.9 mi
    1.9 mph
    1,625 ft
    3,625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    On this fifth day, a little less elevation gain on the program. From the Peule alpine gîte, you descend into the Swiss Val Ferret.Total change of scenery as soon as you arrive at La Fouly. You then cross a series of very typical small villages and hamlets. Traditional wooden chalets, flowered windows, small streams, greenery: this is a very pleasant part of the course, less mountainous but just as exotic.

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  • Difficult
    12:25
    17.8 mi
    1.4 mph
    5,975 ft
    6,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    A very beautiful stage, between passes and villages, which will bring you back to the Chamonix Valley. There are many water points on this section.From Champex-Lac, you start by going up to Col de la Forclaz via a pretty mountain path. From there, you begin your descent to Trient, a pretty little very typical Swiss village. You cross Trient with its magnificent glacier in the background.

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  • Difficult
    10:58
    14.8 mi
    1.3 mph
    4,600 ft
    5,950 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This is your last stop on the TMB. Today, you will rally Tré-le-Champ to Les Houches in an incredible setting.You start your day by going up to the Aiguillette d'Argentière. You are then in the Aiguilles Rouges national nature reserve. With a little luck, you may come across ibex on this section. After the Aiguillette, you arrive at the …

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    104 mi
  • Duration
    67:13 h
  • Elevation
    30,925 ft

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Hiking on the roof of Europe – Tour du Mont Blanc

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