mont blanc circuit hiking tour alps

Mont Blanc circuit, French Alps

Europe’s high peaks are a paradise for hikers. On the Tour du Mont Blanc, we savor the magnficient mountains of three countries—France, Italy, and Switzerland—along with their diverse alpine cultures.

Photo by Brian McGilloway

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Tour du Mont Blanc

On Foot in the Alps from France to Italy to Switzerland

Tour du Mont Blanc route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4295  
Length: 8 days
Arrive: Chamonix, France
Depart: Chamonix, France
Lodging: 5 nights hotels, 2 nights small inns with semi-private rooms
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 7 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 6-8 hours a day, altitudes between 4,000-8,800 feet, van support (for luggage or tired feet), team of up to 3 Trip Leaders
5

Highlights

  • One of the world’s classic hikes—on foot from France to Italy to Switzerland
  • Enjoy magnificent mountain and glacier views and hike across three international borders
  • Delicious regional cuisine, from French tartiflette and Italian pasta to Swiss fondue
  • Overnights in charming mountain villages


From the surprise picnics to tasting grolla in the mountain hut, it was all wonderfully organized.B. Scott—Chapmore Ends England

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Western Europe, a magnificent glacier-clad mountain with seven culturally distinct valleys radiating into France, Italy, and Switzerland. Circling this massif on foot is one of the “Great Hikes of the World,” and we’ve honed our unique version to perfection. As we hike from one country to the next, we revel in glorious mountain-and-glacier vistas, overnight in cozy hotels and hiker’s inns, and savor the delightful cultural and culinary experiences of each country. Festive evenings may find us passing the traditional grolla bowl (espresso and grappa—flambé!) to toast our day’s adventures.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Chamonix, France / Les Contamines / Les Chapieux / Courmayeur, Italy

Our warm-up hike brings us to the Aiguilles Rouges and mountain-ringed Lac Blanc, with its panoramic views over the mountaineer’s paradise of Chamonix. On the following days, we hike beside enormous glaciers, cross passes with fantastic views of snow-covered peaks, and enjoy wonderful picnics in spectacular spots. On Day 4, our hike into Italy affords superb vistas of Mont Blanc’s 11,000-foot-high southern face as we descend to the stylish mountain town of Courmayeur.

Days 5-6
Val Ferret, Switzerland / Champex / Trient Glacier / Col de la Forclaz

With the massive granite peaks of Mont Dolent and the Grandes Jorasses in view, we hike into Switzerland via the Grand Col Ferret, traversing the gentle Val Ferret, with its traditional wooden chalets, to Champex. On Day 6, we cross the challenging Fenêtre d’Arpette (8,750'), a dramatic pass with breathtaking views of the magnificent Trient Glacier, and descend along the edge of the glacier and through the forest to our inn at Col de la Forclaz.

Days 7-8
Col de Balme / Chamonix

Our trail climbs through larch forests to the Col de Balme, the border between Switzerland and France. We savor the glory of Mont Blanc before us as we descend into the Chamonix Valley. Depart from Chamonix on Day 8.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 5, Strenuous. All trip members should have good hiking experience, but no technical climbing experience is necessary. Most hiking is at altitudes between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, and the maximum elevation reached is 8,800 feet. Daily hikes range from four to eight hours. All participants must be in good physical condition. There are long daily ascents and descents of up to 3,000 to 4,000 feet in each direction. On most days, we end the hike with long, steep descents. Of course, you are always free to skip a day’s hike and travel to the next destination in the support vehicle. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in top physical condition for the trip.

In Chamonix, we stay in the wonderful Grand Hotel des Alpes. Outside of Chamonix, we stay in comfortable (but not luxurious) small hotels and pensions, with shared bathrooms on a couple of nights of the trip. They are rustic, well located for hikers, and continuously busy in the summer hiking season. Please note that these are hikers’ hotels, not five-star resorts. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but are not always of uniform size or amenities.

Our Trip Leaders try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Single rooms are offered when possible, but those who pay the Single Supplement may have to share a room for up to two nights during the trip. At the Auberge de la Nova, couples may also have to share a room.

All meals are included. Evening meals are at our hotels, and they will be hearty mountain fare. A support vehicle will transport the group’s luggage daily. We use many forms of transportation as we travel during the trip, so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack/rucksack.

We strongly urge you to “train up” for your trip. Your enjoyment of the trip will be very dependent on your level of fitness. The best training for hiking is hiking, especially over hills or rough terrain. Next best are running, swimming, bicycling or other sports exercise. Stair-climbing machines are excellent preparation for hiking uphill. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule at least a couple of months before departure. Your feet should also be well prepared—make sure your hiking boots are sturdy and thoroughly broken-in.  Altitude is not a problem on these trips. The itineraries are worked out to take you gently to higher altitude, giving you plenty of time to acclimatize. However, some people still find they get a few problems when they first reach high altitude. Slight headache and sleeplessness are the most common problems.

On most days, breakfast will be around 7:30 am. You should bring your packed bag to the hotel lobby when you come down for breakfast on days when we will be changing hotels. We usually leave the hotel at around 8 or 8:30 am. Lunch will usually be either in a small village, mountain lodge or picnic spot amidst the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Most evening meals will be taken at our hotels and will be hearty, nourishing mountain fare, often with the cuisine the region is noted for. Vegetarians please note that we will accommodate dietary needs as best as possible, but it is a good idea to bring along protein bars and other supplements. Please note that in Europe, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 7:30 pm.

Each day will include anywhere from three to eight hours of hiking, with options that give us time for visiting small villages and other interesting places en route. Of course, trip members are always free to skip a day's hike and travel to the next destination in the support vehicle. On most days, a support vehicle will transport the group's luggage, so you only need to carry a daypack for items you need for the day (sweater, camera, water bottle). We may use many forms of transportation as we travel during the trip, so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack/rucksack.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Jul 6-13, 2014

Jul 27-Aug 3, 2014
Aug 10-17, 2014
Aug 24-31, 2014
Sep 7-14, 2014
2015
Jul 5-12, 2015
Jul 23-30, 2015
Aug 9-16, 2015
Aug 23-30, 2015
Sep 6-13, 2015

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$4295 (11-14 members)
$4695 (6-10 members)
Single supplement: $410
Forced single supplement: $205
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of at least two Wilderness Travel Trip Leaders (and sometimes three, depending on group size)
  • Accommodations in hotels and small inns
  • All meals included
  • Van support and luggage transfer
  • Cable cars and chairlifts to trailheads for scheduled hikes
  • Land transportation during the trip, transfers between overnight stops, airport transfers

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, alcohol at meals, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Minimum fee: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Grand Hotel des Alpes

Grand Hotel des Alpes

Day 1 (1 night),
Day 7 (1 night), Chamonix, France

A truly wonderful hotel that WT groups have enjoyed for years, the elegant Grand Hotel is right in the center of Chamonix, set back on a lovely ...
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Hotel La Chemenaz

Hotel La Chemenaz

Day 2 (1 night), Les Contamines, France

Right on the TMB trail just outside the village of Les Contamines, this is a comfortable, modern hotel with spacious rooms, a cozy bar with a log ...
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Auberge de la Nova

Auberge de la Nova

Day 3 (1 night), Chapieux, France

This family-run auberge sits at the end of a country road at the junction of three valleys. It is a basic but very charming place and an important ...
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Hotel des Glaciers

Hotel des Glaciers

Day 4 (1 night), Courmayeur, Italy

In the adjacent community of Dolonne, a few minutes’ walk from Courmayeuer’s pedestrian center, this is a family-run hotel in which ...
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Hotel du Glacier

Hotel du Glacier

Day 5 (1 night), Champex, Switzerland

The comfortable Hotel du Glacier sits on the main and only street of the pretty little village of Champex. The same lovely couple has owned it for ...
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Hotel du Col de la Forclaz

Hotel du Col de la Forclaz

Day 6 (1 night), Trient, Switzerland

Sitting right on the mountain pass where the road leads west to France or east to Switzerland, this is a mountain accommodation with simple rooms ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Tim Burford

Departure Dates: August 10-17, 2014, September 7-14, 2014

Tim Burford has written hiking guidebooks to many regions, from Romania to Chile to Alaska, and is the author of the authoritative Travel Guide to Georgia (the former Soviet Union), published by Bradt, UK. Tim’s great passion is for the mountains, trails, and cultures of Central ...
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Nicos Caravellas

Departure Dates: August 24-31, 2014

Nicos Caravellas, born and raised in Greece, gained his love of nature early on family outings in northern Greece's mountainous countryside. During his university years, while earning his degree in teaching, he developed his mountaineering skills and decided to become a professional guide."I ...
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Ingrid Crossland

Departure Dates: September 7-14, 2014

Ingrid Crossland is a global wanderer whose life has been shaped by travel, mountains, and rock climbing. During the 1990s, following a number of mountaineering and climbing expeditions in Asia and Africa, she changed paths from a business career to leading treks, making the outdoors and mountains ...
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James Fuss

Departure Dates: August 10-17, 2014

James Fuss is a trekking guide, photographer, bicyclist, and chef extraordinaire. Born and bred in South Australia, James acquired his wanderlust early while exploring Australia extensively on camping trips with his parents. His love of the cooking arts began early, as well, and after embarking on ...
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Marian Gibert

Departure Dates: August 24-31, 2014

Marian Gibert has been a world traveler from a young age. She was born in Bilbao, Spain, grew up in Venezuela, and later lived in Britain, where she studied Business Administration at Cambridge. She also lived and worked in Engelberg, a resort in the Swiss Alps, picking up the Swiss-German and ...
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Sean Morrissey

Departure Dates: July 6-13, 2014

Sean Morrissey was born and raised in London but also spent time in Ireland with relatives while growing up (he holds both Irish and British passports). He moved to Australia at age 20, worked there for two years, then heeded the call of the mountains and became a professional guide, working in ...
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Rob Noonan

Departure Dates: July 6-13, 2014, August 10-17, 2014

Rob Noonan came by his love of nature and the mountains early, adventuring throughout most of the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego and later earning a degree in Environmental Studies from Prescott College in Arizona. He has guided our Patagonia hiking journeys since 1994, but his love of ...
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Tanya Perret

Departure Dates: July 27-August 3, 2014, August 24-31, 2014

Tanya Perret, born in Bath, England, has had a passion for the mountains for as long as she can remember. A keen mountaineer, she has climbed both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn and holds British Association of International Mountain Leader guiding qualifications. For the past 15 years, Tanya has ...
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Stephan Renard

Departure Dates: July 6-13, 2014

Stephan Renard was born in Grenoble in the French Alps and grew up in the wild and remote Vercors region of the Rhone Alps, where he gained his passion for hiking, climbing, and skiing. A professional mountain leader and ski instructor since his youth, he loves outdoor pursuits of every kind and ...
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Clive Roberts

Departure Dates: July 27-August 3, 2014, September 7-14, 2014

Clive Roberts, from Ireland, is a seasoned guide with a contagious passion for the mountains. When not guiding for us, he teaches mountaineering and climbing skills. Clive has guided all over Europe and Nepal and and speaks French, German, and Nepali. In his free time, he enjoys canoeing, ...
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Daniel Windham

Departure Dates: July 27-August 3, 2014

Daniel Windham, born in Georgia's foothills, discovered his passion for the mountains at an early age while backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. After moving to northern Italy, becoming a mountain guide, and running a mountain hut with his Italian wife, he returned (via a couple of years in Costa ...
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Client Comments

From the surprise picnics to tasting grolla in the mountain hut, it was all wonderfully organized. B. Scott, Chapmore Ends England I had an amazing experience! I would definitely travel with WT again. Jognya T., Thousand Oaks, CA A great trip. I was ready to go back as soon as I got home. David W., Centennial, CO The trip was great. It was hard work, but that was balanced out by great food and a comfortable bed at the end of the day! All the hotels were good. Jeanne A., Chevy Chase, MD We have traveled with other tour companies in the past but Wilderness Travel is so far superior we will always use them! Bernie M., Pullman, WA
This trip exceeded our hopes and expectations. We had a fabulous time! Wendy G., Exeter, NH This was the ninth trip I have done with WT. You continue to do a professional job that commands respect. Greg C., Tampa, FL I had so much fun. This trip truly was better than I expected...and I had high expectations coming in. Meg W., New York, NY