The Tour du Mont Blanc Route: A Full Guide

Are you ready for an alpine hike that will leave you breathless? We couldn't advise a better trek than Tour du Mont Blanc!
The most famous route for trekking TMB is called the Classic route that we, at Skyhook, offer in our two trips - the Tour du Mont Blanc - 10 Days and the Tour du Mont Blanc (4-Days).
That said, there are some more challenging or easier route variations you can explore, especially if you are on a self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc trip. Let's tell you more.
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The 4-Day TMB highlights trek is perfect for those with limited time off.

The Tour du Mont Blanc at a Glance

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a legendary long-distance hike that encircles the Mont Blanc massif, the highest mountain in Western Europe, reaching a staggering 4,808 metres (15,771 feet).
Spanning approximately 226.5 km (165 miles) with an elevation gain of around 2,536 meters, this trek is fun, scenic, and simply unforgettable.

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 226.5km (165 miles) of pure alpine bliss.

  • Days to complete: 7-11 days of immersive trekking.

  • Highest point: 2,536 m (8,743 ft) at the breathtaking Grand Ferret Pass.

  • Countries covered: France, Italy, and Switzerland – a cultural trifecta!

Tour du Mont Blanc Route Options

The TMB offers multiple route variations to cater to different preferences and fitness levels, ensuring an unforgettable experience for every adventurer.
Let's break down the most popular options and get your wanderlust fired up!
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1. Classic Route

The classic route is the quintessential TMB experience, covering the entire circuit around Mont Blanc in all its glory.
Starting and ending in the charming French town of Les Houches, this route takes you on a whirlwind adventure through stunning alpine meadows, rugged mountain passes, and picturesque villages that will leave you utterly spellbound.
Key sections of this route include:

Les Houches to Les Contamines

  • Distance: 18 km (11 miles).

  • Highlights: Conquer the Col de Voza, marvel at the Bionnassay Glacier, and explore charming hamlets frozen in time.

Les Contamines to Les Chapieux

  • Distance: 20 km (12.5 miles).

  • Highlights: Tackle the iconic Col du Bonhomme, discover an ancient Roman bridge, and lose yourself in alpine meadows that seem straight out of a fairytale.

Chapieux to Rifugio Monte Bianco

  • Distance: 25 km (15.5 miles).

  • Highlights: Conquer the Col de la Seigne, cross the Italian border, and enjoy the unique atmosphere of Rifugio Monte Bianco.

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Rifugio Monte Bianco to Courmayeur

  • Distance: 12 km (7.5 miles).

  • Highlights: Explore the Val Veny, bask in panoramic views of Mont Blanc, and indulge in Courmayeur's culinary delights.

Courmayeur to Val Ferret

  • Distance: 12 km (7.5 miles).

  • Highlights: Traverse the beautiful Val Ferret with its lush landscapes and stunning mountain views.

Val Ferret to La Fouly

  • Distance: 20 km (12.5 miles).

  • Highlights: Conquer the Grand Col Ferret, cross into Switzerland, and unwind in the serene valley of La Fouly.

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La Fouly to Champex-Lac

  • Distance: 15 km (9 miles).

  • Highlights: Immerse yourself in the beauty of Swiss alpine villages, marvel at the pristine Lac de Champex, and meander along scenic trails that will take your breath away.

Champex-Lac to Trient

  • Distance: 16 km (10 miles).

  • Highlights: Tackle the Bovine route, conquer the Forclaz pass, and witness the awe-inspiring Trient glacier views that will leave you awestruck.

Trient to Argentière

  • Distance: 13 km (8 miles).

  • Highlights: Conquer the Col de Balme, cross into France, and brace yourself for a stunning descent into the enchanting Chamonix Valley.

Argentière to Chamonix

  • Distance: 18 km (11 miles).

  • Highlights: Hike through the Flégère and Brévent regions and feast your eyes on the spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif, leaving you utterly spellbound.

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Views on the Tour du Mont Blanc.
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2. Tour du Mont Blanc Route Variants

Here's a list of alternative routes to the classic Tour du Mont Blanc. Each offers unique challenges and scenic variations:
  • Col des Fours Trail - This trail diverges at Col de la Croix and rejoins at Valle de Glaciers. It includes a steep section at Valle de Glaciers and provides an opportunity to reduce the overall itinerary by one day.

  • Fenetre d'Arpette Trail - One of the more challenging variants, this trail starts at Champex Lac and crosses a boulder field to the Fenetre d'Arpett. It offers stunning views of the Trient Glacier before descending steeply to Buvette Glacier du Trient.

  • Les Grands Trail - This is a more direct route to Col de la Balme that bypasses most accommodation options in the Trient Valley, featuring a trail through the forest and a carved staircase.

  • Col e Tricot - A trail between Les Houches and Les Contamines, traversing the breathtaking Col de Tricot. Famous for close-up views of the Bionnassay Glacier.

  • Route via Grand Balcon Sud and Le Brevent - These trails are popular for their stunning views of the Mont Blanc Massif. Le Brevent reaches the highest point on Aiguilles Rouges, opposite Mont Blanc.

  • Tete Bernarda - Connects Courmayeur and Rifugio Bonatti. It's a high-altitude path with spectacular views of the Grandes Jorasses.

  • Aiguillette d'Argentiere Ladders - If you're seeking a thrill, this route includes sections with ladders and metal steps, offering a more adventurous path.

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Joining a group for this hike can offer extra mental and emotional support when you need it.

Essential Tips for a Memorable Trek

The Tour du Mont Blanc difficulty varies for everyone - mostly depending on when and how long you hike. As such, the trek requires good fitness and preparation. Here are some tips for before and when trekking TMB:
  1. Physical training for Tour du Mont Blanc: Focus on building endurance, strength, and flexibility. Incorporate hiking, running, and strength exercises into your routine to ensure you're ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

  2. Gear preparation: An ideal Tour du Mont Blanc packing list should include high-quality hiking boots, a comfortable backpack to carry your essentials and weather-appropriate clothing. Remember essentials like a first aid kit, trekking poles, and a reliable map or GPS device to keep you on track.

  3. Permits and reservations: While the TMB doesn't require special permits, it's crucial to book your accommodations well in advance, especially during peak season if you're going self-guided. You should also understand the best spots if you prefer camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

  4. Start early: Begin your day at the crack of dawn to avoid crowds and take advantage of cooler morning temperatures. There's nothing quite like watching the sunrise paint the mountains in a warm, golden glow as you embark on your daily trek.

  5. Pace yourself: Listen to your body and take regular breaks to rest, refuel, and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

  6. Stay hydrated and nourished: Hiking at high altitudes can dehydrate, so drink plenty of water and snack on energy-boosting treats to keep your stamina up. Trust us, you'll need all the fuel to conquer those steep ascents and descents.

  7. Respect the environment: The TMB traverses some of the most pristine and fragile alpine environments, so it's essential to follow Leave No Trace principles. Stay on designated trails, properly dispose of waste, and minimise your impact on the natural surroundings.

  8. Embrace the culture: While the stunning scenery will undoubtedly steal your heart, remember to immerse yourself in the rich culture of the villages you'll encounter along the way. Indulge in regional specialities like French pastries, Italian pasta, and Swiss chocolate, and interact with locals to truly appreciate each destination's unique charm.

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Going on a guided tour with a group is the best way to enjoy this trip.

Best Time to Trek Tour du Mont Blanc

The best time to hike Tour du Mont Blanc is during the summer (June to the end of September) when the weather is more stable and the mountain passes are generally snow-free.
But even then, observe the daily forecast and terrain conditions as the weather can sometimes change rapidly.

Wrapping Up

Ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime? The Tour du Mont Blanc promises an unforgettable journey through some of the most stunning alpine scenery in the world. Whether you choose the classic route or a more challenging variant, preparation is vital to ensuring a safe and enjoyable trek.
At Skyhook, we believe that the proper preparation makes all the difference. With this comprehensive guide, you're now equipped with the knowledge to plan your perfect TMB adventure. Choose your route, pack your essentials, and get ready to explore the breathtaking beauty of Mont Blanc.