In footsteps of first climbers who circled highest peak of the Alps
The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is one of most famous long-distance hiking trails in Europe and first climbing trail around highest peak in Western Europe.
Early explorers pointed to Mont Blanc
In 1767, Swiss mountaineer Horace-Benedict de Saussure circumnavigated Mont Blanc to find his way to summit. When you get bored, you can enjoy a variety of beautiful landscapes along way, such as valleys, villages, meadows and glaciers, and later became today's classic TMB route.
Magnificent glacial alluvial fan plain
Find out before you go:
Length: about 170 km
Number of days: 8-11 days
Difficulty: moderate, but requires physical strength and willpower
Best month: June-September (many mountain houses and hotels are closed outside this period, and August is local peak season)
Preparing before leaving:
Actually, I didn't do a lot of homework before flight, packed my luggage and booked a ticket to France, so I spent a lot of money. There are many ways to start and move TMB. I decided to visit Chamonix for a few days and then start from Chamonix. Here is some useful information for you
Currency: although it covers three countries: Switzerland, Italy and France, you actually only need to prepare euros, and most hotels and shops can be paid by credit card
Language: Mainly French and English, but English is not available outside main city
A small river flows in front of my house, and hillside behind it is a reflection of Alps here
OUIBUS: French domestic passenger transport, cheapest fare from Lyon airport to Chamonix city center is about 12 euros, but you can only book tickets in advance online
Chamonis bus: If you have accommodation in area, you can ask for Chamonix transport card at villa or campsite and you can take Chamonix bus for free, which is very convenient
Train: You can also use Chamonix transport card for free rides in Chamonix area
Cable car: if you are tired, you can take cable car up or down at any time (however cable car may be closed, be sure to check before you ride)
Accommodation: This only provides cheap accommodation and camping in Chamonix and you can live wherever you go on TMB road
Ski-Station Chalet: open shop, 19 euros per night, kitchen and WIFI available, but hot bathing water is unstable
Campsite Les Arolles: Campsite, €10 per night, hot bathing water and WIFI provided
Don't worry about food and shelter on TMB road, many mountain houses and villages along way can provide shelter and supplies
Official website of Chamonix: you can check local tourist information and weather
Office de Haute Montagne: You can purchase climbing and rescue insurance, 1 person per day costs 5.5 euros, helicopter rescue service is provided
Please prepare your luggage according to your personal needs, this is for reference only
Medicines: Gastrointestinal Medicines, Cold Medicines, Breathable Bandages (for foot blisters), Will Steele (to prevent altitude sickness?!)
Personal clothing: underwear x 3, socks x 3, warm clothes x 2, down jacket x 2, down jacket, waterproof jacket, inner pants, hiking pants, waterproof pants, headscarf, fur hat
Climbing equipment: hiking boots, flashlights, backpack, 2 liter water bag, waterproof backpack cover, trekking poles (double poles recommended)
3C accessories: cameras, mobile phones, adapters, power supplies (often there are no outlets available)
Camping accessories: tent (two man tent), mat, sleeping bag
Climbing equipment: rock helmet, ice ax, crampons with 12 legs, harness, D-ring × 4
Dishes: pots, stoves, bowls and chopsticks, thermoses
Other: tripod, laptop, Swiss Army knife, blue and white mop
A scene that makes people scream over and over
Landscapes along TMB will definitely stun you
Refer to Tour of Mont Blanc book for planning an itinerary that presents two ways of walking clockwise and counterclockwise
Clockwise: D1 Champex Ferret
Counterclockwise: Les Houches Les Contamines
Clockwise: D2Ferret Rifugio BonattiLes
Counterclockwise: Contamines Les Chapieux
Clockwise: D3Rifugio Bonatti Courmayeur
Counterclockwise: Les Chapieux Rifugio Elisabetta
Clockwise: D4Courmayeur Rifugio Elisabetta
Counterclockwise: Rifugio Elisabetta Courmayeur
Clockwise: D5 Rifugio Elisabetta Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme
Counterclockwise: Courmayeur Rifugio Bonatti
Clockwise: D6Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme Les Contamines
Counterclockwise: Rifugio Bonatti La Fouly
Clockwise: D7Les pollutes Les Houches
Counterclockwise: La Fouly Champex
Clockwise: D8 Les Houches La Flégère
Counterclockwise: Champex Trient
Clockwise: D9La Flégère Trient
Counterclockwise: Trient Treis-les-Champs
Clockwise: D10Trient Champex
Counterclockwise: Tres-les-Champs La Flegère
Counterclockwise: Refuge La Flégère Les Houches
While most people go counter-clockwise, Chamonix uses clockwise to avoid peak season in August and then adjusts itinerary at any time to suit weather, mood, physical strength and other conditions. Here is my walking methodp>
Chamonix city center is still lively at night
Day 1 Chamonix-Argentiere
Sweep away rain haze for a few days and prepare to leave. Start on trail behind Aiguille du Midi cable car station, climb 1300 meters to cable car relay station, then follow mountainside to Blue Lagoon and then descend to Les Tines to board Chamoux. Take bus to Argentière. In total today on foot 18 km, by car 5 km.
Frozen blue lake
The majestic South Needle and ropeway hanging by a thread
Day 2 Argentière Triant
Make your way along magnificent villages in valley, passing through Le Tour (a famous ski resort in winter and a place for downhill skiing in summer), then reach highest point of Franco-Swiss border, and then cross all way to Trient. Today, height rises to 950 meters, and distance is 13 kilometers.
Small town in valley along way
Le Tour is a sacred place for skiing in summer, it is border of France and Switzerland
Day 3: Trient Champex
Trian is a small village with a beautiful church hidden in a valley. Enjoy morning sun before heading to Champex. Today's total elevation difference is 1200 meters, and run is 16 kilometers.
There are heavenly restaurants all over TMB Road, but prices are amazing too
Day four Champex Ferret
Champex is a fabulous city by a lake about 1,600 meters high. It descends to Issert at an altitude of 1,060 meters, then ascends to Ferret at an altitude of 1,700 meters and recharges at La Fouli along way. Today's run is 20 km.
Champex, a city by a lake in mountains
Day 5 Ferret Courmayeur
When I woke up early in morning, it was drizzling outside, and it looked like it was an uphill battle. Arrive first at Swiss-Italian border, which is by far highest point at over 2500m, and then make your way all way to Courmayeur, which is only over 1200m above sea level. This is so-called Italian version of Chamonix, and also second on congestion of city on way. Today's run is 21 km.
The clouds gradually dissipated after morning rain
Italian version of Chamonix Courmayeur
Day 6, Courmayeur Le Motte
This section of road is, in my opinion, most spectacular section of TMB, and there are many great scenes along way. I got up early in morning and took a bus, then climbed over mountain, passed a very picturesque glacial lake to Rifugio Elisabetta, and then crossed Italo-French border to Le Motte. Today is also the most tiring day in several days, with a total climb of almost 1400 meters, 21 km on foot and 5 km by car.
Morning oblique light always matches mountains
Italo-French border stone
Day 7. Les Mettets Les Contamines
It has been raining all day and we are constantly on road. First we go up more than 800 meters to Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme, and then we go down more than 1100 meters to Les Contamines. Today's run is 21 km.
The shepherd drives flock through grass
Day 8 Les Contamines Les Houches
This section of road is about 10 km downhill, but due to heavy loads that caused blisters on soles and discomfort in knees, I took bus to Les Houches, where only climbing gym in city is located. Chamonix area, so I have to go on a pilgrimage once.
Day 9 Les Houches Chamonix
This stretch of road is flat and easy to walk, so I decided to sleep until I wake up naturally today and then leisurely walked back to center of Chamonix to enjoy a hearty meal. Today's run is 8 km.
Great scenery along way is truly unforgettable
Thank you for reading. If you would like to know about itinerary plans or ask a local guide, please contact me again!