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classic tour du mont blanc
classic tour du mont blanc
classic tour du mont blanc
classic tour du mont blanc
classic tour du mont blanc

Plan your Tour du Mont Blanc

Kandoo's View
Join us on this nine-day, classic Alpine circuit of Mont Blanc. On this trek we stay in traditional gites and refuges along the route, which gives you the full Alpine experience and great camaraderie along the way.
The historic Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the most spectacular walks of the world. Trekking around the “top of Western Europe” means discovering an incomparable universe of high mountains and glaciers. You will discover the French, Italian and Swiss slopes, from Chamonix to the Courmayeur valley, and from the Fenêtre d’Arpette to the wild Val Ferret. The path winds between mountain pastures, glaciers and peaks, crosses high mountain passes, lush valleys and highway-sized glaciers. 

About this route

From our hotel in Chamonix, we take the bus or train to Les Houches to catch the Bellevue cable car. The trek itself starts from the balcony of Saint Gervais, leading us to the end of Val Montjoie where we discover the Contamines village. We climb up from the Roman road, in the heart of the Contamines-Montjoie nature reserve to cross the Col de Bonhomme. Crossing the Col de la Seigne pass (2516m) takes us to Italy: to the town of Courmayeur and then to the picturesque Bonatti refuge.  Our next border crossing is the Grand Col de Ferret from the Italian to the Swiss Val Ferret, overlooked by Mount Dolent where the three borders intersect. Herens cows bells ringing out at the entrance of the villages, old house style, geraniums in window boxes: there can be no doubt that we are in Switzerland. Touch wood you can discover these magnificent landscapes with the sun shining! We end our adventure with a majestic panorama from the balcony of the Aiguilles Rouges: admiring Mont Blanc reflected in Lake Blanc.

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Detailed itinerary

Day 1Arrival Day

The Kandoo team will meet you at Geneva airport and transfer you to your pre-trek hotel in Chamonix, one of the most historic and lively mountain resorts in the world. Later you will attend a pre-trek briefing with your Guide to prepare you for your tour. There are many typical Savoyard restaurants close to your hotel where you can sample some alpine specialities, such as cheese fondue, tartiflette and raclette.

Day 2From Chamonix to Les Contamines-Montjoie

We will catch the bus or train to Les Houches where we will take the Bellevue cable car. From the top cable car station there is a beautiful panoramic view of Mont Blanc , the Aiguilles Rouges, the Fiz chain and the Aravis. We then begin our trek in earnest, following a 1800m-high balcony that leads us to the bottom of the Bionnassay glacier. Crossing the Col de Tricot (2120m) we will descend to the village of Les Contamines-Montjoie where we will spend the night.

  • Elevation: From 1035 metres to 1164 metres
  • Highest point: 2120 metres (Col de Tricot)
  • Trekking distance: 13 kilometres
  • Overnight: Mountain Refuge
Day 3 From Les Contamines- Montjoie to La Ville de Glaciers

Today begins with a leisurely trek along the river to the beautiful baroque Church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, which marks the start of the mountain trail. A long and steep ascent leads us to the Col de Bonhomme (2329m). This pass has been used for centuries by shepherds and their herds, armies and soldiers, pilgrims and hawkers – and now the hikers of the Tour du Mont Blanc! We have a further climb to cross the Col des Fours (2665m) before we drop gently down to the mountain pastures where we find ourselves among herds of Tarine and Abondance breeds. The milk from these cows is used to make many cheeses, especially the Beaufort and Abondance which are local specialities. Your guide will be sure to visit some local farms to stock up for your next picnic!

  • Elevation: From 1164 metres to 1789 metres
  • Highest point: 2665 metres (Col des Fours)
  • Trekking distance: 20 kilometres
  • Overnight: Mountain Refuge
Day 4 From La Ville de Glaciers to Monte Bianco Refuge

Today we cross our first border, from France into Italy, via the Col de la Seigne (2516m), which lies on the watershed between the Mediterranean and the Adriatic. The view from here is breath-taking, with a series of snowy peaks appearing in front of the Italian side of ‘Monte Bianco’. As we descend into the Val Veny we will pass by picturesque glacial lakes. We spend the night at the Monte Bianco refuge, situated at the foot of the Glacier de la Brenva, under the impressive Aiguille Noire de Peuterey.

  • Elevation: from 1789 metres to 1865 metres
  • Highest point: 2516 metres (Col de la Seigne)
  • Trekking distance: 21 kilometres
  • Overnight: Mountain Refuge
Day 5From Monte Bianco refuge to Bonatti refuge

This morning we will take the bus down to the charming town of Courmayeur where we will have some free time to enjoy a delicious Italian coffee. We then hike up from the town and continue along the Val Ferret in the shadow of the impressive Grandes Jorasses. Our last night in Italy is spent at the Bonatti refuge, named after Walter Bonatti, the great Italian mountain climber. There is no vehicle access to this refuge so your luggage will not join you tonight – everything you need for your stay and tomorrow’s trek needs to be carried with you.

  • Elevation: From 1856 metres to 2025 metres
  • Trekking distance: 12 kilometres
  • Overnight: Mountain Refuge
Day 6From Bonatti refuge to Champex

Time to lace up those boots and head into Switzerland! Today we will continue to ascend along the Val Ferret to reach the Grand Col de Ferret (2537m) where we will cross the border. As we head up the pass we can admire the Glacier de Pré de Bard and Mount Dolent, the summit of which is shared by France, Italy and Switzerland. The Grand Ferret is an ancient pass connecting the Aosta Valley of Italy to the Valais Canton of Switzerland. From the village of Ferret we will catch a local bus to Champex, a quaint lakeside village.

  • Elevation: From 2025 metres to 1468 metres
  • Highest point: 2537 metres (Grand Col de Ferret)
  • Trekking distance: 18 kilometres
  • Overnight: Mountain Refuge
Day 7From Champex to Argentière

We leave Champex, taking the Bovine Way through the high meadows where the beautiful Herens cows spend their summer months. This balcony path gives us a panoramic view of the surrounding Rhône valley, the Coude du Rhône and the Great Combins massif. We descend through a beautiful forest to the Col de la Forclaz. Then we follow the Bisses path (a Valais word meaning a water channel carved from stone or wood) to reach the village of Trient. From here, a private vehicle will take us through the Montets pass, crossing back into France, to our final destination of Argentière.

  • Elevation: From 1468 metres to 1252 metres
  • Highest point: 1975 metres (Bovine)
  • Trekking distance: 17 kilometres
  • Overnight: Mountain Refuge
Day 8From Argentière to Chamonix

On this final day of our trek, we will discover the Aiguilles Rouges massif and reserve, facing Mont Blanc across the Chamonix valley. We will trek up to the Cheserys Lakes and on to Lac Blanc, from where we can enjoy a breath-taking view of Mont Blanc and the Mer de Glace while enjoying our picnic lunch. On the way we can often see ibex, chamois and marmots. We head down on a balcony trail, crossing La Flagère and Le Brévent to reach our hotel in Chamonix. Time to relax and enjoy your evening in town.

  • Elevation: From 1252 metres to 1035 metres
  • Highest point: 2352 metres (Lac Blanc)
  • Trekking distance: 18 kilometres
  • Overnight: Hotel
Day 9Departure Day

We will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Geneva airport.

Availability and prices

Last Updated March 27 2020
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Route
Arrival
Days
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Arrival: June 21 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
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Arrival: June 28 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1290 €0
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Arrival: July 5 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
Comment: Minimum of 5
 
Arrival: July 12 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
Comment: Minimum of 5
 
Arrival: July 19 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
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Arrival: July 26 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
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Arrival: August 2 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
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Arrival: August 9 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
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Arrival: August 16 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
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Arrival: August 23 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
Comment: Minimum of 5
 
Arrival: August 30 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
Comment: Minimum of 5
 
Arrival: September 6 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
Comment: Minimum of 5
 
Arrival: September 13 2020
Days: 9
Price: £999 $1299 €0
Comment: Minimum of 5
 

Staff and safety

Our trip is led by a mountain guide who will provide you with all the technical information needed for a safe and enjoyable trek. The guide may have to modify the programme in order to ensure the safety of the group, depending on mountain weather conditions or participant’s physical capability.

Accommodation

On the first and last nights, you will spend the night in a 3-star hotel in Chamonix in private twin rooms. Single rooms are available on request for a supplementary fee (subject to availability).

On the trek itself, you will spend the nights in mountain refuges where you will sleep in shared dormitories. Blankets and pillows are provided but you will need to bring your own sleeping bag liner. 

Examples of hotels in Chamonix  : 

https://www.alpinachamonix.com/en/ 

https://www.prieurechamonix.com/en/ 

Examples of mountain huts: 

https://www.refugelanova.com/

http://www.lovevda.it/en/database/22/mountain-refuges/courmayeur/walter-bonatti/3745

http://www.lovevda.it/en/database/22/mountain-refuges/courmayeur/monte-bianco-cai-uget/3744

 

Food and drink

Staying hydrated and well-fed on your trek is absolutely vital, especially when conditions are such that you might not want to eat or drink as much as you should.

If you have special dietary requirements or are a vegetarian then just let us know when you book so that we can be sure to have a suitable menu planned.

A typical day's meals on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Continental breakfast is usually provided in your hotel each morning.

Lunch picnics are made of mixed salads, fine meat, local farm cheese, crusty bread, pate, nuts, fresh seasonal fruits and other local sweet pleasures. The guide will prepare the food each evening for the following day; don't worry if he leaves you for a short time in the evening as he will be away sourcing some great food for you. The lunch is carried by the group, so each morning the food will be shared out to be carried in your daysack.Picnic lunch

Don't forget to take your own snacks for when you need a little extra boost - cereal bars, energy bars, nuts and dry fruits are all good options. And feel free to bring some local specialities from home to share with the group!

In the evening, dinner is taken either at the hotel or in a nearby restaurant. Drinks are not included with dinner, so please make sure you have some Euros and Swiss Francs with you if you fancy sampling some local wine or beer.

Drinking water

 Water at RefugeTap water is typically safe to drink in France so you can fill up your water bottle each morning at the hotel. On the trek itself, you will be passing many refuges where you will also be able to top up your water if needed.

Meals in Chamonix

Your hotel in Chamonix at the beginning and end of your trip is booked on a bed and breakfast basis only, and does not include any other meals. There are plenty of typical Savoyard restaurants in Chamonix where you can sample some local alpine delicacies, such as cheese fondue, tartiflette or raclette.

Transportation

We use a private minibus for all our transfers.

Your main equipment bag is transported between the refuges each day and will be waiting for you when you arrive at your next stop. All you need to carry each day is your daysack, containing only the items you need for the day along with any valuable items. The luggage transport cannot take any electronic items or camera equipment so please try to avoid bringing any bulky items such as laptops as you will need to carry them every day yourself.

There is no vehicle access to Bonatti Refuge on day 5. Everything you need for your overnight stay and for day 6 will need to be carried with you. We recommend you travel light! Your main bag will be waiting for you again at Champex.

Fitness and training

Fitness and training for the Tour du Mont Blanc

One question we get asked a lot is 'how fit do I need to be to do the Tour du Mont Blanc ? Whilst a high level of fitness will make the hikes a lot easier it by no means requires super human fitness. We often take people who have left their fifties well behind them and are not in peak physical condition. That being said, a solid  training plan will allow you to better prepare for the hikes and enjoy yourself when you're on the trail. 

What all successful hikers share though is a real Kandoo attitude and that means high levels of grit and determination. 

There is a lot of steep ascent and descent on this trek, so your legs will be getting a good workout. If you are comfortable walking for 6-7 hours with an ascent of 1000m then you are certainly fit enough to succeed on the Tour. Think of it as climbing Snowdon or Ben Nevis every day for six days! Similarly if you can do a full hour spinning, a vigorous aerobics class or can jog at a decent pace for 45 minutes then there is no reason why you can't make the entire Tour du Mont Blanc.

Practice Hiking

The best training by far for the Tour du Mont Blanc is to get your walking boots on and get lots of miles under your belt. Whether this is two to three hours walking locally or full days away on your nearest hills, you just need to clock up lots of hours on your feet. More than anything else it is just walking every day for 6 days that people find tiring. And the best cure for this is to have spent lots of hours just walking.

Hiking practice allows you to understand the stress your joints will be put under and how well you can deal with this. It also allows you to wear in your boots as this takes some time and can often be uncomfortable. Start with a comfortable distance that suits you and slowly try to work your way up to a 5-6 hour trek. If you can do this a few times then you'll be in good stead.

Aerobic Training

Aerobic (or cardio) training will be a key factor in allowing you to make the Tour du Mont Blanc. Aerobic literally means 'requiring free oxygen' and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Aerobic exercise builds up your cardiovascular system allowing you to process oxygen in a more effective way. Unlike anaerobic exercise, aerobic exercise requires oxygen for elongated periods of time. Examples of aerobic exercise would be lane swimming, long distance jogging, walking and cycling.

Depending on fitness, we recommend a 3-6 month training plan.

Strength Training

Any Tour du Mont Blanc training plan should also include strength training. Although not as important as your aerobic training, strengthening your upper body, core and, in particular, your legs will greatly increase your chances of success. You'll be on your legs at least 7 hours a day on some steep slopes, you therefore need them to be strong enough to take the punishment.

To strengthen your legs we recommend doing the following exercises. Remember when doing these exercises to keep watch of your technique. Exercises done with poor technique will more often than not harm you instead of help you.

  • Squats
  • Front and reverse leg curls
  • Lunges
  • Step aerobics

Building upper body and core strength is also crucial as you'll not only be standing for hours, but you'll also be carrying your daysack. We recommend the following exercises to strengthen your upper body and core:

  • Shoulder presses
  • Back and shoulder flyes
  • Sit-ups
  • Kettle-bell rows / swings

Remember to stretch after all exercise sessions! Increasing flexibility will allow your body to recover more quickly overnight after trekking all day. No one wants to trek for 7 hours after waking up with stiff joints aching all over!

The importance of stretching

Most sports injuries occur due to poor stretching. This is particularly true on mountains where repetitive movements over tough terrain put a lot of stress on joints and muscles. To loosen your muscles and increase suppleness we recommend adopting a regular stretching regime. Spend 10 minutes every morning stretching your main muscle groups.

FAQ

How long is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The length of the full Tour du Mont Blanc is 173 km, has over 11,000m of ascent and can take up to 10 days to complete. For this tour itinerary, we trek for around 120 km, and use a couple of vehicle transfers in order to complete the trek in 7 days. We will still cover around 6,000m of ascent

What is the maximum altitude on the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The highest point we trek to is 2665m, when we cross the Col des Fours on the second day of the trek.

Is any climbing required on the Tour du Mont Blanc?

There is no real climbing on any part of the Tour du Mont Blanc - it is a well-maintained trekking route. However, there is one fixed ladder that you encounter on the final day of the trek between Argentiere and Lac Blanc.

When is the best time to do the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The best time to do the Tour du Mont Blanc is between mid-June and mid-September. Be aware that in the early season (end of June – beginning of July) there can still be a lot of snow on the trail. From mid-July 14 to mid-August the itinerary is very busy. From the end of August until mid-September, the trail is much quieter, apart from when the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc) race comes to town!

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