France, Italy, Switzerland: Tour Of Mont Blanc
France, Italy, Switzerland: Tour Of Mont Blanc, the TMB, walking through France, Switzerland and Italy, is perhaps the most iconic and famous of all walks in the Alps. This circuit of Mont Blanc, a “must do” for all mountain walking enthusiasts, offers spectacular views at every point. Crossing renowed alpine passes the route takes you beneath glaciers, through valleys and across summer meadows and breathtaking mountain panoramas. Star of the show is Western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, which at 4807m is the Monarch of the Alps. Follow us on Facebook!
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS HOLIDAY
- Best of the TMB-Calssic Alpine Circuit
- Alpine passes, valleys and meadows
- Charming Champex and Chamonix
- Traditional fresh pasta: Fettuccine
- Wines and liqueurs: Enfer di Arvier, Morgex et La Salle, Prié Blanc, Pinot noir, Genepy
- Fontina, polenta, Bleud’Aoste, lardo d’Arnad, Mocetta, Teteun, chestnuts with honey, Mont Blanc ice-cream
|IMPORTANT NOTE||The schedule might be subject to change; Depending on your needs and your requests, we can provide you individual services (accomodation, land service, guide service, single tours and activities) or a full package tour;|
|Availability||January, February, March, April, May, June, September, October, November, December|
|What is included||1 dinner in local restaurant in Pescocostanzo, wine&beverages included, 1 wine & cheese tasting, 6 dinners, wine&beverages included, 6 packed or picnic lunches, 7 continental morning breakfast, 7 nights in Hotel|
|What is not included||– All not expressed in the “What is included”, Beverages during dinners, Free accommodation for tour leader, − Personal Expenses|
Day 1 – Arrival day at Les Contamines
Arrive at your accommodation in Les Contamines. Your chalet style hotel tonight is located in the heart of this alpine town. There’s a good choice of eateries in Les Contamines, as well as ATM facilities, shops, etc..
Hotel, Les Contamines
Your first day on the TMB is mostly ascent (around 1320m height gain). The TMB ascends gradually at first through woodland above a river gorge. En route you pass the small church of Notre Dame de la Gorge. The slabs beneath your feet were laid by the Romans. The trail then begins to increase in gradient as you ascend steeply up to Chalet de Balme, a refuge at 1706m and a handy refreshment halt. There’s the option here of taking a detour to Lac Jovet. Above the woodland, as you climb ever higher the views just get better and better, especially when you reach your first pass of the TMB, the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2483m). A large cairn marks the summit of the pass and the valleys of the Beaufortain come into view below. Just 50m below the summit lies your overnight halt, the Refuge Corix di Bonhomme (2433m) and your first taste of the good nature and pleasures of overnighting in high alpine mountain huts.
6hrs, 1320m ascent
Refuge “Croix du Bonhomme”
Today you have two route options. The first is a most challenging, but equally more spectacular route via the Col des Fours. However, this route should not be attempted if there is any threat of poor visibility, bad weather, or substantial late lying snow/fresh snowfall. The route leads from the previously climbed Col des Fours (2665m), the highest point of the TMB and there are good views of Mont Blanc above the Aiguilles Glaciers. The trail then descends steeply over shale slopes to reach Les Tufs (1993m). Joining a farm track to cross a river, the route then rises gently to reach the atmospheric Refuge des Mottets (1887m), a converted dairy farm. (Walking time approx 6hrs, with 320m ascent and 875m descent). The easier route is to descend down the main valley and through grasslands, past the Chalets de la Raja to les Chapieux (1554m) and then follow the easy trail that leads up to Refuge des Mottets (1887m).
5hrs, 315m ascent, 880m descent
Refuge des Mottets
A longer day and best describes as all up, then all down. Your up, is the route to the Col de la Seigne (2516m). There are a couple of short, steep sections initially, but mostly it’s fairly steady ascent. Arriving at the Col you are now on the borders with France and Italy and the further revelation is the new expansive view. From the Col the strong mountain walker may wish to make the short ascent to the summit of Mount Fortin (2758m), which affords breathtaking views of the Brenva face of Mont Blanc. The TMB then descends into the Val Veni, passing the refreshment opportunity at Refuge Elisabetta (2300m). Not a bad place to stop as it overlooks the Vallon de la Lee Blanche. From here a further 3-4hrs walking along a balcony trail leads down to the Refuge de Maison Vieille (81956m), your overnight halt.
7hrs, 975m ascent,890m descent
Refuge de Maison Vieille
It’s a good idea to get cracking as early as possible today. A pleasing descent to Courmayeur (1244m) beneath Mont de la Saxe, also provides good views of Mont Blanc as well as the impressive Grand Jorasse. To avoid walking on the main road, you’ll need to hop on a bus to Arnuva (1769m). From here it’s back on your feet and over the Col Ferret you reach the hamlet fo Ferret itself. Time to relax and have a drink whilst waiting for the bus that will take you direct to Champex.
7hrts, 1200m ascent,1350m descent
Today there are two options to choose from. The easier option (bearing in mind there is no such thing as easy in alpine walking) takes around 5hrs and involves around 745m ascent and 685m descent. It’s an undulating route through green pastures up though forest and neat meadows to Bovine, where there are refreshment opportunities and then mostly down towards the Col de la Forclaz and finally sharply down to Trient (1326m).
The more challenging route (arguably the toughest section of the TMB) is to walk via the Fenetre de Arpette (2671m). This route involves over 1000m of ascent and descent and takes around 6-7hrs, but it is spectacular and the “Fenetre” is one of the highest points reached on the TMB and a true alpine mountain pass. The views from the pass make it worth it, especially of the Trient Glacier on the descent. It’s a tough slog up to the pass, with the final climb being quite steep and narrow across a chaos of boulders. Care needs to be taken. Reaching the pass, you’ll soon appreciate why it is called the Window as a whole new world opens out before you.
Descneding sharply through a clutter o frocks, it gets very steep at times and then eases as you reach the tree line and continue downwards to Trient (1326m).
1220m ascent, 1350m descent
Your final day on the TMB begins with a steep climb up to the Col de Balme (2191m) and the French border. The views over the Chamonix Valley are truly breathtaking and the effort really is worth it. From here you then follow a variant of the TMB and descend to the village of Montroc (1345m). You can now either continue to walk down to Chamonix, or hop on a train . Reaching Chamonix your TMB may be over, but with Mont Blanc towering over this famous alpine town there will much adventure to reflect back on.
Walking time approx 5hrs
Day 8 – DEPARTURE DAY
Depart Chamonix. If you don’t need to leave Chamonix early we highly recommend you take the cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi (3870m9. The close up views of Mont Blanc are incredible as well as the alpine panorama from this high vantage point.