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  • France, Italy, and Switzerland: Tour du Mont Blanc Hiking
Overview

Enjoy a True Mountain Adventure in Europe with Boundless Journeys

National Geographic Traveler rates this epic adventure in its "50 Tours of a Lifetime" and with good reason!
Boundless Journeys’ Tour du Mont Blanc is a thrilling hiking circuit around Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest mountain. It combines 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 will lead you from village to village as you 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 you’ll enjoy delicious and hearty meals of local specialties. Join Boundless Journeys in Mont Blanc on this tour of a lifetime.

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Itinerary &
Accommodations

Itinerary & Accommodations

Day 1

Arrival in Chamonix; Trip Briefing & 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. This evening, we have a trip briefing and welcome dinner.

Accommodations
Hotel l'Oustalet

Hotel l'Oustalet
Chamonix, France

This charming Savoyard hotel is located just blocks from the pedestrian center of town, and offers incredible views of the Mont Blanc massif. Each room is of wood-carved, alpine chalet style décor. Start the day with a hearty breakfast featuring local specialty cheeses and meats and freshly baked pastries, and end the day with a dip in the swimming pool with Mont Blanc towering above.

Day 2

Lac Blanc

  • Activity Overview: Warm-up hike; elevation gain and loss of 1,700'
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Activity Length: 4-5 hours (approximately 6 miles)

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 vistas 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 many wonderful savoyarde (regional) restaurants.

Accommodations
Hotel l'Oustalet

Hotel l'Oustalet
Chamonix, France

This charming Savoyard hotel is located just blocks from the pedestrian center of town, and offers incredible views of the Mont Blanc massif. Each room is of wood-carved, alpine chalet style décor. Start the day with a hearty breakfast featuring local specialty cheeses and meats and freshly baked pastries, and end the day with a dip in the swimming pool with Mont Blanc towering above.

Day 3

Les Houches to Les Contamines-Montjoie

  • Activity Overview: Hiking; elevation gain of 2,400’ and loss of 4,400’
  • Activity Level: Strenuous
  • Activity Length: 5-6 hours (approximately 8 miles)

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.

Accommodations
Hotel La Chemenaz

Hotel La Chemenaz
Les Contamines-Montjoie, France

The Chemenaz is located in the small bustling resort town of Contamines les Montjoie. The hotel offers beautiful views of the “Domes de Miages” to the south of Mont Blanc, comfortable accommodations, and fine alpine hospitality. Relax after after the day’s hike in the swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi. Enjoy regional Savoyard specialties in their restaurant La Trabla.

Day 4

Les Contamines-Montjoie to Les Chapieux

  • Activity Overview: Hiking; elevation gain of 4,400’ and loss of 3,200’
  • Activity Level: Strenuous
  • Activity Length: 7-8 hours (approximately 10 miles)

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 passes 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’). A brief twenty-minute transfer will take us to our truly authenic Savoie hotel for tonight’s stay. We’ll enjoy a fine regional dinner at our guides’ favorite local restaurant.

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’).

Accommodations
Hotel L’Autantic

Hotel L’Autantic
Bourg Saint Maurice, France

A beautiful stone lodge located in the small mountain resort town of Bourg St. Maurice. Located in a tranquil setting with a beautiful courtyard and garden, L’Autantic is a short walk from town, offering mountain views, pool and sauna, and authentic Savoie style and hospitality. A bountiful breakfast is served in the welcoming veranda, overlooking the eastern side of the Mont Blanc massif.

Day 5

Bourg St. Maurice to Courmayeur

  • Activity Overview: Hiking; elevation gain of 1,600’ gain and loss of 3,600’
  • Activity Level: Moderate to strenuous
  • Activity Length: 4-5 hours (approximately 8.5 miles)

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 remainder 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.

Accommodations
Hotel Berthod

Hotel Berthod
Courmayeur, Italy

Hotel Berthod is a converted old country house in an ideal location in the center of lively Courmayeur, the “Italian Chamonix”. The Berthod family who has operated the hotel for many years, embraces all guests with a gracious welcome and service. Balconies offer impressive views of Mont Blanc, and many shops and cafes are just a few steps away to immerse yourself in Italian culture for the evening.

Day 6

Courmayeur to Champex

  • Activity Overview: Hiking; elevation gain of 2,450’ and loss of 2,750’
  • Activity Level: Moderate to strenuous
  • Activity Length: 5-6 hours (approx. 7.5 miles)

After a short transfer from Courmayeur, we hike from Italy into the mountain wonderland of Switzerland via the Grand Col Ferret (8,400’), and pass 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 mountain 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.

Accommodations
Hotel du Glacier

Hotel du Glacier
Champex, Switzerland

Hotel du Glacier is a family-run hotel ideally situated on Lake Champex, reflecting views of the surrounding mountains. Swiss flags and cows with ringing bells in the surrounding area will welcome you in Switzerland. The hotel offers a billiards lounge and opportunity to relax in the or hot tub after a full day’s hike. Experience the local culture in the small village, a short walk away, before savouring a regional Swiss dinner.

Day 7

Champex to Col de la Forclaz

  • Activity Overview: Hiking; elevation gain of 1,850’ and loss of 1,715’
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Activity Length: 6-7 hours (approximately 9 miles)

Our hike today begins in 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 continue with a gentle walk through a spruce forest, which eventually brings us to Plan d’Au, where we may stop for a short rest.

We then continue up the valley and, after crossing a number of streams,  climb steeply to arrive at the flower-filled meadows of the 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’) to our hotel. Our more simple hikers’ lodging is superbly situated at the foot of the Trient glacier, and will have a hearty dinner awaiting.

Accommodations
Hotel La Grande Ourse

Hotel La Grande Ourse
Trient, Switzerland

A simple alpine hotel located at the foot of Trient glacier. Recently fully renovated, La Grande Ourse offers modest and tidy accomodations, and fantastic views of the valley. Owned by a local family prioritizing excellent service. Single rooms are not available, and bathrooms are in shared facilities.

Day 8

Trient to Le Tour

  • Activity Overview: Hiking; elevation gain of 3,050’ and loss of 3,000’
  • Activity Level: Moderate to challenging
  • Activity Length: 5-6 hours (approximately 9 miles)

Today we complete the Tour du Mont Blanc cuircuit on 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.

Accommodations
Hotel l'Oustalet

Hotel l'Oustalet
Chamonix, France

This charming Savoyard hotel is located just blocks from the pedestrian center of town, and offers incredible views of the Mont Blanc massif. Each room is of wood-carved, alpine chalet style décor. Start the day with a hearty breakfast featuring local specialty cheeses and meats and freshly baked pastries, and end the day with a dip in the swimming pool with Mont Blanc towering above.

Day 9

Departure from Chamonix

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 due to 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 or the order visited should the need arise.

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Dates &
Prices

Dates And Prices

2016
Trip Length

9 Days

Trip Dates

Sep 3-11, 2016

2016 Land Cost

$4,395 Per Person


Single Supplement

First one reserved:$0

Additional (not guaranteed for all nights):$455

See single supplement policy below.

2017
Trip Length

9 Days

Trip Dates

Jun 24-Jul 2, 2017

Jul 15-23, 2017

Jul 29-Aug 6, 2017

Aug 19-27, 2017

Sep 2-10, 2017

2017 Land Cost

$4,595 Per Person


Single Supplement

First one reserved:$0

Additional (not guaranteed for all nights):$455

See single supplement policy below.

What's Included

  • Expert leadership
  • All accommodations
  • All meals except two dinners (Days 2 & 5)
  • Local wine and beer with included dinners
  • All transportation (cable cars, funiculars, trailhead transfers, and baggage transfers) during the trip
  • All activities as noted in the itinerary
Single Supplement Policy

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.

What To
Expect

What To Expect

Physical Activity

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. Tour du Mont Blanc Hiking is rated 4, moderate to strenuous, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). As this classic route completely encircles the Mont Blanc massif, we hike "inn-to-inn" on most days. All trip members should have good hiking experience, but there is no technical climbing experience necessary. There are long elevation gains and losses ranging from 1,000 to 4,400 feet per day; hiking times range from five to eight hours per day, and mileage ranges from seven to ten miles per day. Most hiking is at altitudes between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, and the maximum elevation reached is 8,800 feet. Although our luggage will be transported for us, there will be little or no vehicle support for the hikes on most days. However, you may have the option to hire a local taxi (at your own expense). Please refer to the detailed itinerary for descriptions of the hikes on each day.

Meeting Point

Chamonix, France

Departure Point

Chamonix, France

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 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.

Preparing for This Trip

It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. The more well-prepared you are for the activities, the more you will enjoy yourself. As a general guideline, we suggest that you engage in moderate aerobic activities (such as hiking, jogging, or cycling) for at least 45 minutes to one hour several times a week for at least 4-6 weeks before the trip. Considering this is a moderate to strenuous hiking trip, we encourage you to consider adding longer activities on weekends - hiking in hilly terrain is ideal, but longer bike rides or other moderately strenuous activities will also be helpful. If you live in a flat area, try to incorporate some stairs into your workout, or use a treadmill with varying incline capability (consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness program). Please contact us if you have any doubts regarding your physical match with this tour.

Weather

In 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 and snow are possible at any time, and weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains, so having rain gear and thermal layers on hand is 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 days.

You may obtain more detailed weather information by visiting www.weatherbase.com.

Chamonix

June

High: 77
Low: 55

July

High: 76
Low: 58

August

High: 75
Low: 57

September

High: 70
Low: 48

A Note on Accommodations

The hotels we stay in are rustic, well-located for hikers, and busy in the summer 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, and amenities can vary. Although offering excellent service, the Hotel La Grande Ourse offers shared dormitory-style bathrooms (no private baths) and limited single rooms. Those who reserve a single room may be matched with another guest (of the same gender).

Guides

Featured Guides

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.

$4,395 / person* *airfare not included
9 Days
Reserve This Tour
  • Departure Dates: Sep 3-11, 2016
    Jun 24-Jul 2, 2017
    Jul 15-23, 2017
    Jul 29-Aug 6, 2017
    Aug 19-27, 2017
    Sep 2-10, 2017
Extend This Tour Complement this tour with other journeys

France & Switzerland: Haute Route Hiking

Starting in Chamonix, France, this epic hiking adventure passes through the greatest concentration of 4,000-meter peaks in the Alps and concludes in Zermatt, Switzerland, connecting two world-renowned mountaineering centers. On Boundless Journeys’ nine-day Haute Route Hiking tour, you’ll traverse some...

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Activity Level 4 Moderate to Strenuous

Moderate to strenuous inn-to-inn hiking, 5-8 hours per day with daily ascents and descents of 1,000-4,400 feet.

  • Group Size: 4-16 Guests

Make it Your Own!

This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.

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