The Via Alpina in Switzerland is a long distance hiking trail made up of three…
If you’re a keen hiker then chances are that you’ve thought about hiking the Tour of Mont Blanc – TMB for short. If you haven’t heard about it then it may be something to add to your bucket list. I hiked it with my daughter one July but it took me weeks to figure out an itinerary and where to stay.
Learn from my mistakes by reading this post about the whole experience hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Where does the Tour of Mont Blanc start?
The hiker’s Tour of Mont Blanc is a 168 km loop tour around the base of Mount Blanc which by the way is the highest peak in western Europe at 4810 m or 15,782 feet tall.
Hikers usually begin just outside of Chamonix, France if they’re hiking the traditional counter-clockwise direction or they start in Champex, Switzerland if it’s the clockwise direction they’re doing.
No matter what, you hike through three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland over a 9 to 11 day period.
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What is the suggested itinerary if you’re hiking the traditional counter- clockwise direction?
The hike actually begins in Les Houches, about a 20 minute bus ride from Chamonix.
Day 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines Distance: 16 kms Elevation gain: 646 m (2119′) Elevation loss: 633 m (2076′)
Day 2: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux Distance: 18 or 20 kms Elevation gain: 1316m (4316′) or 1579m( 5179′) Elevation Loss: 929 m (or 876 m) 3047′ (or 2774′)
Day 3: Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta Distance: 15 kms Elevation gain: 1004m (3293′) Elevation loss: 258m (846′)
Day 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur Distance: 18 or 20 kms Elevation gain: 460m (1508′) Elevation loss: 1560 m (5116′)
Day 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti Distance: 12 kms (or 16km or 14kms) Elevation gain: 860m (2820′) or 1597m (5238′) or 1449m (4752′)
Day 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly Distance: 20 kms Elevation gain: 895m (2936′) Elevation loss: 1410m (4625′)
Day7: La Fouly to Champex Distance: 15 kms Elevation gain: 420m (1378′) Elevation loss: 565 m (1,853′)
Day 8: Champex to Col de la Forclaz/Trient Distance: 16 kms Elevation gain: 742m (2434′) Elevation loss: 682m (2,237′)
Day 9: Col de la Forclaz/ Trient to Tre-le-Champ Distance: 13 kms Elevation gain: 1069m (3,506′) Elevation loss: 1178m (3,864′)
Day 10: Tre-le-Champ to La Flagere Distance: 8kms Elevation gain: 733m (2404′) Elevation loss: 257m (843′)
Day 11: La Flagere to Les Houches Distance: 17kms Elevation gain: 772m (2532′) Elevation loss: 1546m (5,071′)
***I booked my accommodation based on information I could find at the time on the web. Most guided tours seem to go from Les Chapieux to Courmayeur so that’s what I’ve booked. That’s going to be one TOUGH day. (Don’t do it!)
If you hate the thought of sleeping in a dormitory you don’t have much choice but to go on to Courmayeur. I have also condensed days 9 and 10 so will go all the way from Col de la Forclaz to the refugio at La Flagere.
Many people allow for a rest day off in Courmayeur too.
Where can you stay on the Tour du Mont Blanc?
You can do the entire hike by staying in hostels and refugios – which is great if you’re on a budget. The refugios typically have dormitory style rooms and from what I’ve read you can usually just phone ahead a night or two for a room.
Since we’re coming from Canada and have a fixed schedule I prefer to know where I’m staying every night. We’ll be staying in a few refugios but I’m looking forward to the peace, quiet and privacy of our own room in the small hotels I’ve chosen.
Here are some suggestions on where to stay on the Tour du Mont Blanc
Where to stay in Les Houches
- Chalet-Refuge Michel Fagot Ph: 04 50 54 42 28 36 dortoir (dormitory style) places
- Gite -Auberge le Cret Ph: 04 50 55 52 27 10 dortoir places
- Hotel Les Campanules 04 50 54 40 71 120 dortoir places
Where to stay in Les Contamines
- Hotel le Chemenaz – This is a three star hotel.
- Refuge de Miage – before the town Ph: 04 50 93 22 91
- Auberge du Truc – also before the town Ph: 04 50 93 12 48
- Refuge du CAF Ph: 04 50 47 00 88 28 dortoir places
- Hotel Christiania Ph: 04 50 47 02 72 Offers beds and dortoirs
- Chalet Bonaventure Ph: 04 50 47 23 53 8 dortoir places
- Auberge de la Nova This place offers simple rooms and dormitory beds.
- Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme Ph: 04 79 07 05 28 113 dortoir spaces
- There are 53 dortoir places and 20 beds. Ph: 01 65 84 40 90. You are now in Italy and may need the county code – 0039. You can also buy lunch here if you are hiking through to Courmayeur.
Where to stay in Courmayeur
There is lots of choice in Courmayeur.
- Hotel Bouton d’Or – This one is at the higher end of the price spectrum. It’s very nice with a great location.
- I booked the Rifugio Bonatti early because there isn’t much else in the way of choice so you need a room here. Ph: 01 65 86 97 23
- If it is full I have read that you can head down the road – 1 – 1.5 hours to La Vachey and stay in Hotel Lavachey.
Where to stay in La Fouly
- Edelweiss Hotel – great location and a good choice
- Maya Joie would be another choice if you don’t mind a shared bathroom.
- Chalet le Dolent Ph: 027 783 18 63 10 beds
- Gites Les Girolles Ph: 027 783 18 75 60 beds
Where to stay in Champex
- Hotel du Glacier
- Pension En Plein Air Ph: 027 783 23 50 25 beds
- Au Club Alpin Ph: 027 783 11 61 25 dortoir places
Where to stay in Col de la Forclaz/Trient
- Hotel du Col du La Forclaz
Where to stay in Tre-le-Champ
- Refuge du Col de Balme Ph: 04 50 54 02 33 26 dortoir places this place is actually about halfway between Trient and Tre-le-Champ.
Where to stay in La Flagere
- Refuge la Flagere Ph: 04 50 55 85 88 It offers 66 dortoir places and 21 beds
- Refuge du Lac Blanc Ph: 04 50 53 49 14 This is another 1- 1.5 hours of walking off the trail but commands one of the best views on the entire hike.
For trip planning purposes
You absolutely need to get a hold of or buy the book – Tour of Mont Blanc: Complete Two-Way Trekking Guide by Kev Reynolds. It provides detailed day by day route descriptions and a far more comprehensive list of places to stay. Other hiking options from the TMB are also described.
Further reading on other long hikes in Europe
- Hiking the Stunning Via Alpina in Switzerland
- A Dram Good Time: The Speyside Way Whiskey Tour
- What’s the better hike – the Kerry Way or the Dingle Way?