France, Italy, Switzerland
A true mountain adventure, the Tour du Mont Blanc is one of our favorite inn-to-inn hiking routes and a longtime classic.
Tour du Mont Blanc Trip Overview
"Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains; They crowned him long ago on a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds, with a diadem of snow."
- Lord Byron
The Tour du Mont Blanc hiking circuit around Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest mountain, is the perfect mix of awe-inspiring mountain views and the vibrant influence of three distinct European countries – France, Italy, and Switzerland. The hiking route leads us between small alpine villages, over mountainous passes, and along ancient glaciers as we travel through the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps. Our expert guides lead us from village to village as we dip down into a new valley each day and savor changes in language, landscape, architecture, and cuisine. Our cultural delights range from the French resort town of Chamonix, to the medieval city of Courmayeur, Italy, to quaint alpine villages in Switzerland where we enjoy delicious and hearty meals of local specialties.
Itinerary at a Glance
Days 1-2: Meet in the mountain resort town of Chamonix, France; from Chamonix, our warm-up hike brings us up to the Aiguilles Rouges, and alpine Lac Blanc.
Day 3: Hike along the foot of the huge Glacier de Bionnassay, through lush meadows to the Col du Tricot (7,000’), and into Les Contamines, an unspoiled traditional French village.
Day 4: We make our way over the Col de la Croix-de-Bonhomme (8,200’) and down through rich, open pastures to the remote summer village of Chapieux.
Day 5: Leaving France, we hike into Italy via grassy trails and old Roman roads, crossing the Col de la Seigne (8,245’), with views of Mont Blanc’s massive southern face, and descend into the mountain resort town of Courmayeur.
Day 6: We hike from Italy into the mountain wonderland of Switzerland via the Grand Col Ferret (8,400’), and continue hiking to the Swiss-lake resort of Champex.
Day 7: Today we hike through the high alpine pastures of Bovine with expansive views of the Rhone Valley, and the majestic Swiss Alps. We conclude our day at a Swiss family-run inn in a small mountain village.
Day 8: Today we complete our circuit, departing from Trient and hiking back into France over the Col du Balme (7,230’), with glorious views of Mont Blanc. We celebrate our accomplishments tonight in Chamonix.
Day 9: Departure from Chamonix, France.
HOW WE DO IT DIFFERENTLY
We partner with local companies to transfer your bags from one inn to the next, so all you need on the trail is a daypack and a hiker's spirit. We avoid shared bath accommodations wherever possible, and do not stay in dormitory-style rooms; instead we choose charming alpine properties that provide great meals and relaxation. Our renowned local guides know how to make the most out of a day on the trail (and a gourmet picnic lunch), introducing you to the grandeur of the Mont Blanc region.
THE BOUNDLESS JOURNEYS ADVANTAGE
- A passion for travel. Simply put, we love to travel, and that is woven into every one of our journeys.
- Unique, award-winning itineraries. Our flexible, hand-crafted journeys have received accolades from the world's most revered travel publications.
- Insider connections. There is simply no substitute for traveling with a knowledgeable insider.
- Small groups. We tread softly, and our average group size is just 6-8 guests.
- Flexibility to suit your travel style. We offer both small-group departures and Private Collection trips, so that you can choose which works best for you.
- Customer service that goes the extra mile. There is no request that is too big – or too small – for our staff to handle.
- Sustainability. We are committed to traveling responsibly – striving to preserve traditions.
Our tours often fill months in advance, and our maximum group size is smaller than most tour operators. It's very quick and easy to reserve a trip. Give us a call at 800-941-8010 or complete the online Reserve a Trip form. We will confirm your reservation with a $500 per person deposit, payable by check or credit card.
Trip Rating (1 Easiest - 5 Most Strenuous)
Traveling to and From
Most Convenient Airport:
Geneva International Airport; Geneva, Switzerland (airport code GVA).
Meeting Time and Place:
Your guide(s) will meet you in the evening on the first day of the trip, in the lobby of our first hotel in Chamonix.
Departure Time and Place:
Chamonix, France, after breakfast on the last day of the trip. Please note that transfers to the Geneva International Airport take approximately 1.5 hours. Please plan your flight schedule accordingly.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. The walks on this trip range from 5-8 hours. The terrain is usually gradual, although you may encounter occasional steep sections. Most walks are on unpaved paths and trails, with minimal vehicle support. Trails, at times, may be wet and slick with mud.
Preparing for this Trip
It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. All participants must be in good physical condition. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in top physical condition for the trip.
Please engage in moderate aerobic activities (hiking, jogging, or cycling) for at least 30-45 minutes several times a week for 4-6 weeks before the trip. If you live in a flat area, it is important to incorporate some stairs into your workout, or use a treadmill with varying incline capability. The more well-prepared you are for the hiking on this trip, the more you will enjoy this unique alpine experience. Please consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness programs.
A Note on Accommodations
The hotels we stay in are rustic, well-located for hikers, and 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. In one of the hotels, there are shared bathrooms (no private baths). Single rooms are offered when possible, but those who pay the Single Supplement have to be prepared for this not being available at every property.
Being an alpine environment, weather is variable throughout the day and by elevation. A warm, sunny day in the valley can be anywhere from delightfully refreshing to downright brisk at higher elevations. Therefore, dressing in layers will be essential to your comfort throughout the day. Rain is possible at any time, and weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains, so having rain gear on hand is also advisable. At the same time, the sun is strong at higher elevations, and therefore adequate precautions should be taken to prevent sunburn, even on cool, sunny days. On average, the temperature in July is 76°F for a high, and 58°F for a low; and in June and August these numbers are about the same. You may obtain more detailed weather information by visiting www.weatherbase.com.
France; Italy; Switzerland Accommodations
Overview: Charming small inns and hotels; 7 nights private bath and 1 night shared bath accommodations.
Nights 1 & 2: Hotel l'Oustalet
Located next to the pedestrian center of Chamonix, this charming inn offers hearty breakfasts, incredible views, and a great swimming pool.
Night 3: Hôtel La Chemenaz
Les Contamines Montjoie, France
The Chemenaz offers beautiful views of the neighboring mountains, comfortable and cozy accommodations, great alpine service, and a heated swimming pool.
Night 4: Auberge-Refuge de la Nova
Les Chapieux, France
A simple family-run hiker's inn offering hearty cuisine. Shared bath and extremely limited single accommodations available (cannot be guaranteed).
Night 5: Hotel Berthod
A converted old country house in an ideal location in the center of town with views of Mont Blanc.
Night 6: Hotel du Glacier
A family-run hotel ideally situated on Lake Champex with a billiards lounge, sauna, and hot tub.
Night 7: Hotel Beau-Sejour
A simple alpine hotel (single accommodations very limited) that serves regional cuisine.
Night 8: Hotel l'Oustalet
See description for Nights 1 & 2.
France, Italy, Switzerland Detailed Itinerary
Arrival in Chamonix; trip briefing and welcome dinner
We meet at our mountain hotel in Chamonix, France, a pretty village nestled under the flanks of snow-covered Mont Blanc (15,770’), the highest mountain in western Europe. Chamonix is the “mountaineering capital” of Europe, and has been a climbing and skiing center for more than 100 years. This wonderful town has a charming atmosphere and is well-preserved with cobbled streets full of lively sidewalk cafés. We have a trip briefing and welcome dinner this evening.
Hotel l'Oustalet, Chamonix, France
Hike – moderate, 4-5 hours (about 6 miles) with 1,700’ elevation gain and loss.
Today we join our guide for a “warm-up” hike up to the Aiguilles Rouges, with Lac Blanc as our destination. As we hike along the Grand Balcony trail, we get a dazzling view of many of the highest peaks in the Alps, with spectacular views over the entire Chamonix Valley. We then return by cable car from La Flégère, or continue hiking along the Grand Balcony to the cable car station at Planpraz. You are free to enjoy local fare this evening in one of Chamonix’s great savoyarde (regional) restaurants.
Hotel l’Oustalet, Chamonix, France
Les Houches to Les Contamines-Montjoie
Hike – strenuous, 5-6 hours (about 8 miles) with 2,400' elevation gain and 4,400' loss.
The Mont Blanc circuit starts a few miles outside of Chamonix at the village of Les Houches, where we take a cable car up to Bellevue. The hiking begins here, with fantastic views of the Chamonix Valley’s peaks and surroundings. We first hike along the foot of the huge Glacier de Bionnassay, and then up to the Col de Tricot (6,955’), with sight of the Dômes de Miage. A steep descent brings us to the Chalets de Miage, where we enjoy a picnic lunch with the beauty of the Alps around us. Following lunch, we climb up the hill known as Truc, and then descend through a lovely forest to the charming resort village of Les Contamines-Montjoie, once a town of chamois hunters and smugglers, and today a popular mountaineering and ski area. Tonight there is time to explore the town, relax, and refuel for the next stage of our journey.
Hôtel La Chemenaz, Les Contamines, France
Les Contamines-Montjoie to Les Chapieux
Hike – strenuous, 7-8 hours (about 10 miles) with 4,400' elevation gain and 3,200' loss.
In the morning we make our way to the end of the valley and our trailhead at the pilgrimage chapel of Notre Dame de la Gorge – a church of unique Baroque architecture. From the church we walk along an old Roman road that climbs steadily through a beautiful forest, broad alpine pastures, and passing rustic chalets as we make our way to the Col du Bonhomme (7,600’), our first pass. After lunch at the Col du Bonhomme, a short, gradual uphill traverse takes us across Col de la Croix-du-Bonhomme (8,200’), with superb vistas overlooking the Tarantaise region. After a brief rest, we have a long and sometimes steep descent through rich, open pastures to the remote summer village of Les Chapieux (5,200’). Our simple hiker’s inn is superbly situated at the southern limit of the Massif du Mont Blanc, and offers us a much-deserved hearty dinner.
Note: Today is one of the longest and most strenuous days on the Tour du Mont Blanc, as we cross two mountain passes, the Col du Bonhomme (7,600'), and the Col de la Croix-du-Bonhomme (8,200').
Auberge-Refuge de la Nova, Les Chapieux, France
Les Chapieux to Courmayeur
Hike – moderate to strenuous, 4-5 hours (about 8.5 miles) with 1,600' elevation gain and 3,600' loss.
We begin our day with a short transfer to the end of the Vallée des Glaciers. Leaving France, we hike into the Aosta region of Italy via grassy trails and ancient passages.
We climb eastward and enjoy a relatively easy hike over the Col de la Seigne (8,245'). The views are dramatic from the pass, encompassing the Aiguille Noire and the Italian face of Mont Blanc that dominates the Val Veni. An easy descent brings us farther into Italy, and from the very first mountain refuge we pass, the cultural difference between France and Italy is striking. At the end of our day of hiking, we transfer to Courmayeur where we spend the remaining part of the day exploring this resort town spectacularly settled beneath the Grand Jorasses and the Brenva Glacier. You are free to enjoy dinner this evening at one of Courmayeur's many fine restaurants.
Hotel Berthod, Courmayeur, Italy
Courmayeur to Champex
Hike – moderate to strenuous, 5-6 hours (about 7.5 miles) with 2,450' elevation gain and 2,750' loss.
After a short transfer from Courmayeur, we hike from Italy into the mountain wonderland of Switzerland via the Grand Col Ferret (8,400’), and passing beneath the massive granite peaks of Mont Dolent, the Dent du Geant, and the Grandes Jorasses. We hike through alpine meadows and past fast-flowing streams on our moderate but spectacular climb towards the pass, enjoying amazing views of the icy southern flanks of the Mont Blanc massif.
The Grand Col Ferret has been in use for several centuries and serves as the Italian-Swiss border between Val D’Aosta and the canton of Valais. The landscape in the Swiss Val Ferret is gentler, with enticing streams and woodlands, and an extraordinary abundance of wildflowers.
Our arrival in Switzerland is greeted by the sound of Swiss cow bells, and rustic chalets with geraniums spilling from window boxes. We descend to the village of Ferret, and transfer to the mountain-ringed lake resort of Champex. There is time to relax before dinner at our comfortable hotel
Hotel du Glacier, Champex, Switzerland
Champex to Col de la Forclaz
Hike – moderate, 6-7 hours (about 9 miles) with 1,850’ elevation gain and 1,715’ loss.
Our hike today begins from the town of Champex along Bovine Way, an old trail used to access summer cow pastures high above the valley. After enjoying the morning light over the lake, we start with a gentle walk through a spruce forest, eventually bringing us to Plan d’Au, where we may have time to stop for a short rest.
We then continue up the valley and, after crossing a number of streams, we climb steeply to arrive at the flower-filled meadows of Bovine Way. From here we have an expansive view of the Rhone Valley, the Muveran Mountain range, and mountains of Switzerland, reaching into the distance. A perfect place for a midday picnic, we enjoy a delicious spread prepared by our guide while taking in the beautiful alpine scenery.
Following lunch, we continue on through the forest and up along the side of the valley, eventually reaching Col de la Forclaz (5,000’). From here, we walk upstream following a bisse, one of the famous Swiss irrigation canals indicative of the area’s rich farming history. We then drop down to the village of Trient (4,200’) and take a short transfer to Finhaut and our hotel for the evening.
Hotel Beau-Sejour, Finhaut, Switzerland
Trient to Le Tour
Hike – moderate to strenuous, 5-6 hours (about 9 miles) with 3,050' elevation gain and 3,000' loss.
Today we complete our circuit with one of its most beautiful stages. Departing from Trient, we hike through high pastures and back into France over the Col du Balme (7,230’), with glorious views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley below. We have lunch at the pass, enjoying the sweeping views, and then descend by foot or gondola to the village of Le Tour, from which we head back to Chamonix. We gather to celebrate our accomplishments tonight with a farewell dinner in town.
Hotel l'Oustalet, Chamonix, France
Our trip ends after breakfast, and you are free to continue your exploration of Chamonix or depart for your next destination.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary to take advantage of weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these should the need arise.
- Jun 27–Jul 05, 2015
- Jul 11–19, 2015
- Aug 01–09, 2015
- Aug 15–23, 2015
2015 Land Cost
$4,395 per person, No Single Supplement*
Single Supplement (Limited availability and not guaranteed for all nights)
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands. Please see these trip pages for more details.
- Expert leadership
- All accommodations
- All meals except two dinners included (nights 2 and 5)
- All transportation (cable cars, funiculars, trailhead transfers, and baggage transfers) during the trip
- All activities as noted in the itinerary
Please complete the following information to request a reservation. A trip deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your reservation (payable by check or major credit card). Once we receive your request we will contact you within one business day to confirm availability and answer any questions you may have.
About our guides
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work – the mark of a truly great leader – our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own.
Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Eric Thioliere: Born and raised in Chamonix, Eric comes from a long line of mountain guides, and has hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc at least once a year since he began leading walking trips in 1979. Eric speaks French, English, Italian, and German, and has developed great relationships with local people along the circuit. An avid skier, Eric is also involved heavily with the Mont Blanc region writing guide books and maintaining the trail markings. Very knowledgeable about all food, flora, and fauna along the tour, Eric is a great traveling companion with a lot of pride for where his roots have been for generations – Chamonix and its magnificent surrounding mountainscapes.
What other guests have said about Eric:
"Our guide Eric was interesting, knowleadgeable, and with a great sense of humor - the best English I have ever encounteres with a French tour guide!" – C.O., Geneva, Switzerland
"Eric Thioliere was the best! Kind, knowledgeable, patient, helpful, and professional!” – N.B., Longwood, FL
“The Tour du Mont Blanc is in and of itself a special trip; and ours was made more special by the group and our guide, Eric Thioliere, who led us, fed us exquisite picnic lunches, and was such a part of the mountains we were in that we also felt as if we belonged there.” – A.G., New York, NY
Picture Yourself Here:
Spectacular circuit around western Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc (15,770')
France, Italy, Switzerland - hiking across three international borders and between three distinct alpine cultures
Hiking through magnificent alpine scenery with abundant wildlife and wildflowers
Inn-to-inn hiking circuit
- Jun 27–Jul 05, 2015
- Jul 11–19, 2015
- Aug 01–09, 2015
- Aug 15–23, 2015
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What others have said...
The Tour du Mont Blanc is in and of itself a special trip; and ours was made more special by the group and our guide, Eric Thioliere, who led us, fed us exquisite picnic lunches, and was such a part of the mountains we were in that we also felt as if we belonged there.
- A. Grumbach, NYC, NY
Latest Blog Posts About France, Italy, Switzerland
"When I planned to make a trip to Italy I knew I wanted to feel it as much as see it. I was hoping to eat good food, drink great wine, and then hike off all those calories. I did just that, while getting vast knowledge about the art, grapes, and architecture. Our guides Alex and Christopher are an asset to your company. Without them the trip never would have been as memorable and enjoyable. We all agree it exceeded our expectations. I have begun my own 'Boundless Journey.'"
- Diane Cook, Italy: A Taste of Tuscany & Umbria