Tour du Mont Blanc: Guided Trekking Tour Itinerary
Europe's Ultimate Multi-Day Hiking Experience
Strap on your best pair of hiking boots – this is one for the bucket list! Spanning a total of 170 kilometres (110 miles) across France, Switzerland and Italy – the Tour du Mont Blanc is the crown jewel of Europe’s multi-day hiking trails. But not everybody has the time or ability to complete the trail in its entirety – so here’s where the local experts step in to help you maximise your time, and create a very achievable adventure trip of a lifetime.
Remember, at any stage you can hit the buttons below to start a conversation with our Europe travel guru's!
For the most detailed insight, head over to our dedicated page ‘The best time to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc’.
In summary, the best time of the year is in the height of summer – from June through September. July and August are the peak summer months in Europe, while June and September offer shoulder season hiking with quieter trails. See the infographic below for a visual summary:
The most popular way to hike the Mont Blanc Circuit is in an anti-clockwise direction, starting and finishing in the town of Les Houches, France. Geographically, Les Houches is located only 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) from the popular town of Chamonix.
How to get to Les Houches
As we mentioned above, Les Houches is only a small leap from the famously tranquil mountain village of Chamonix – and you’re in the heart of some of the world’s most beautiful mountains, so why not take the adventurous route!
So we like to take a gondola from Chamonix up to Brevent (8410 feet), one of the highest peaks in the crystalline Aiguilles Rouges range, which stands opposite the Mont Blanc massif. From here we’ll hike across the Carlaveyron Plateau overlooking the spectacular Dioz Canyon. The views of the north face of Mont Blanc, the Fiz range and the Chamonix valley are second to none! We’ll drop down to the village of Les Houches, our home for the evening, before meeting our local hosts and settle in for a hearty French mountain meal.
For independent travellers, the most popular way that international visitors get from Geneva International Airport to Les Houches is either:
- A 3.5 hour train ride. This train fare varies, but you can be expected to pay approximately 30 Euros.
- Driving. This his 75 kilometre (47 mile) drive could normally be expected to take around 1 hour, in a private car.
- Bus. A number of public busses are available, which take a little under 2 hours and will cost approximately 25 Euros.
It’s no secret – the most spectacular views aren’t from the bottom of a valley – so the places we go on our trips aren’t exactly what we’d call ‘flat’. And the Tour du Mont Blanc is no exception – in fact we’d consider it one of the more physical trips in the Active portfolio.
But we understand that people of all ages and abilities have the Tour du Mont Blanc in their sights, so that’s why we keep our group sizes small, and there’s two expert local guides on every trip – so we make sure everyone can take their own pace along the way. We’ll keep you safe and up-beat, and take care of all the important logistics, so all you have to do is enjoy the incredible European Alps.
When you book on board an Active trip, we’ll give you a detailed fitness and training plan. If you’d like to look into this plan, get in touch with one of our travel guru’s today!
Day 1 — Arrive in Geneva, head to Chamonix
We’ll pick you up in Geneva and head through the Swiss and French Alps to Chamonix – one of the most iconic mountain towns in the world. Nestled in the heart of a dramatic U-shaped valley, the views of the northern side of Mont Blanc are dramatic from anywhere in town, and especially from our accommodation in the heart of Chamonix. We’ll have time to rest up and explore town this afternoon, before meeting later for a welcome dinner.
Hotel Pointe Isabelle, Chamonix (Dinner)
Day 2 — Hike Mer de Glace, Grotto de Glace experience
Today we’ll hike just above Chamonix to the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice). As a warm up for our hike in the coming days, we’ll take a train up through the fir trees that flank the north side of the Mont Blanc massif, to Montenvers, overlooking this incredible glacier. From Montenvers we’ll hike further up through trees and boulder fields to Le Signal Forbes – a lookout point affording unsurpassed views of the Mer de Glace Glacier and huge granite spires that rise sharply from the moraine walls. On our descent we’ll have incredible views of the upper Chamonix Valley and the Aiguilles Rouges Mountains. Before boarding the train back down to Chamonix, we’ll take a gondola down to Mer de Glace’s Grotto de Glace (Ice Cave). Every year, a new ice cave is dug into the bowels of the Glacier, enabling us to walk inside the incredible sea of ice! After making our way back down to Chamonix, you’ll have this afternoon to relax in town, take in the views and dining highlights, or pick up any last minute items you might need for our hike.
Hotel Pointe Isabelle, Chamonix (All meals)
HIKING DISTANCE: 5.4 kilometres (3.3 miles)
ASCENT: 436 metres (1430 feet)
DESCENT: 436 metres (1430 feet)
Day 3 — Begin Mont Blanc Circuit hike – hike to Les Houches
This morning we’ll leave Chamonix by Gondola up to Brevent (8410 feet), one of the highest peaks in the crystalline Aiguilles Rouges range, which stands opposite the Mont Blanc massif. From here we’ll hike across the Carlaveyron Plateau overlooking the spectacular Dioz Canyon. The views of the north face of Mont Blanc, the Fiz range and the Chamonix valley are second to none! We’ll drop down to the village of Les Houches, our home for the evening, before meeting our local hosts and settle in for a hearty French mountain meal.
Hotel Les Campanules, Les Houches (All meals)
HIKING DISTANCE: 14.4 kilometres (9 miles)
DESCENT: 1500 metres (4920 feet)
Day 4 — Sea kayak Lake Annecy, visit old town Annecy
This morning we’ll drive a short distance to Annecy, the capital of the Haute Savoie region and one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. To kick off our day we’ll take to sea kayaks and circle part of this stunning crystal clear lake, exploring it’s numerous coves and beaches along the way. Later we’ll head back to Annecy town where you’ll have the chance to explore it’s narrow cobbled streets and 16th century gothic architecture. With an outlook to the French Alps and an unmatched elegance, Annecy is the perfect place to lose yourself or simply sit on the sidewalk and watch the world go by!
Lodgings, Saint Gervais (All meals)
KAYAKING DISTANCE: 11.2 kilometres (7 miles)
Day 5 — Hike the Roman Road to Savoie and Beaufortain
We’ll return to the Mont Blanc Circuit this morning after a short drive to Val Montjoie where we’ll begin our hike on an old Roman road to Plan des Dames. After a short break, we begin a gradual ascent of the Col du Bonhomme – an iconic mountain pass and the gateway to the Beaufortain region, famous for its unique cheeses. After breaking for lunch here, we’ll drop down into the sweeping wildflower meadows in the valley below to Les Chapieux where we’ll jump in our vehicle and drive a short distance to our accommodation for the evening, in the hamlet of Bourg St Maurice.
Hotel Autantic, Bourg St Maurice (All meals)
HIKING DISTANCE: 16 kilometres (10 miles)
ASCENT: 1233 metres (4044 feet)
DESCENT: 678 metres (2224 feet)
Day 6 — Hike “Vallee des Glaciers” into Italy
After breakfast we’ll head back to Les Chapieux where we’ll visit a local family-run Beaufort cheese factory which has been making cheese for hundreds of years, having passed down their traditional methods of production generation after generation (please note, the cheese factory is not open during the month of June, so we will select an alternative activity at that time). After our visit, we’ll begin our ascent of the “Vallee des Glaciers” (Valley of the Glaciers). Our first destination is the Col de la Seigne – the pass that straddles the border between France and Italy and an amazing place to view the southern side of the Mont Blanc range. As you stand with one foot in France and the other in Italy, you’ll be confronted with astounding views of huge glaciers, massive rock spires and the broad ‘U’ shaped valley down into the Italian countryside. We’ll make our way down the valley, passing through green pastures and alpine streams. Our home for this evening is the village of Courmayeur, a picture perfect Italian village at the head of the Aosta valley. Welcome to Italy!
Hotel Croux, Courmayeur (All meals)
HIKING DISTANCE: 16 kilometres (10 miles)
ASCENT: 735 metres (2410 feet)
DESCENT: 836 metres (2742 feet)
Day 7 — Explore Courmayeur and Aosta Valley
Roman monuments, medieval castles, vineyards, and quaint villages define the Aosta Valley as one of Europe’s quintessential mountain regions, all against an incredible backdrop of steep snow capped peaks. Today you’re free to explore Courmayeur and the surrounding area. Over hundreds of years the local people here have perfected the “l’art de vivre” (the art of living), through exquisite mountain cuisine, beautiful architecture and fine wine. A day exploring the eateries, art galleries and vineyards of Courmayeur will recharge your culture batteries well and truly! If you’re keen to stay active today, there are plenty of adventurous options available, including hiking, cycling and golf to name just a few. Enjoy!
Hotel Croux, Courmayeur (Breakfast)
Day 8 — Hike Mont de la Saxe
We’ll leave Courmayeur this morning and hike up through dense larch forest and onto alpine meadows leading up to Rifugio Bertone, where we’ll make a brief stop for an espresso and soak in the jaw dropping views of Mont Blanc. From here we’ll continue on to the Mont della Saxe balcony trail overlooking the Italian Val Ferret, looking straight across to some of the highest peaks of the Monte Bianco massif and the tumbling glaciers that descend the southern side of the range into the valley below. They look so close, you’ll feel like you can throw a stone and hit the highest peaks – it’s a sight you have to see to believe. After lunch, we’ll drop down into the Val Ferret and green pastures of the Lavachey where we’ll enjoy a classic home cooked Italian/French meal prepared by our local hosts.
Hotel Lavachey, Lavachey (All meals)
HIKING DISTANCE: 15.2 kilometres (9.4 miles)
ASCENT: 974 metres (3195 feet)
DESCENT: 586 metres (1922 feet)
Day 9 — Hike into Switzerland
Close to our accommodation, the trail to Switzerland begins, over one of the Mont Blanc regions’ most renowned passes – the Grand Col Ferret. The massive granite spires of the south side of the Mont Blanc range are our backdrop on the ascent to the Col Ferret, followed by the astoundingly beautiful views of the Swiss Val Ferret, the Glacier de l’A Neuve and the village of La Fouly that lies beneath it. We’ll hike down to La Fouly through classic Swiss pastures, before a short drive to Champex Lac, a picture perfect lakeside village and our home for the evening.
Hotel Sporting, Champex Lac (All meals)
HIKING DISTANCE: 14.6 kilometres (9 miles)
ASCENT: 748 metres (2453 feet)
DESCENT: 815 metres (2673 feet)
Day 10 — Hike Upper Rhone valley, Switzerland
Today is a proper “Swiss cow day” as we hike through some of the greenest and most picturesque valleys on the planet, all accompanied by the soundtrack of cow bells ringing out across the meadows. As we hike to Bovine peak, we’ll have great views of Wildstrubel, the hulking glaciated 9 mile wide peak that divides the Valais and Bern regions of Switzerland, and out to the north western mountain passes of the Oberland area. After our hike we’ll head down into the town of Vallorcine, nestled in a stunning mountain valley just across the French border.
Hotel du Buet, Vallorcine (All meals)
HIKING DISTANCE: 14.7 kilometres (9.1miles)
ASCENT: 770 metres (2525 feet)
DESCENT: 707 metres (2319 feet)
Day 11 — Bike L’Arve River Trail, Aiguille du Midi experience
This morning you’ll be fitted with a high quality front suspension mountain bike and we’ll ride all the way back down to Chamonix. The ride is spectacular as we bike through the small villages of the upper Chamonix Valley and the larch fir trees that flank the glacier-fed L’Arve River. We’ll finish our ride in Lac de Gaillands (Gailland Lake) where we’ll have a picnic lunch beside Chamonix’s iconic rock climbing wall. After lunch, we’ll take ourselves high above the valley to experience Aiguille du Midi – a cable car that leaves from downtown Chamonix and ends at a granite needle peak building at 3841 metres (12,604 feet). Aside from marvelling at this incredible feat of engineering, you’ll be blown away when you find yourself so close to the summit of Europe’s highest peak, taking in once in a lifetime views of the Alps from a high altitude perspective. Later, we’ll head back to Chamonix to spend the final evening of your trip together.
Hotel Pointe Isabelle, Chamonix (All meals)
BIKING DISTANCE: 16.3 kilometres (10.1 miles)
DESCENT: 423 metres (1387 feet)
Day 12 — Head to Geneva, depart
Today is the last day of your trip around Mont Blanc. We’ll drive back to Geneva this morning in time for afternoon flights. If you’re staying on in Chamonix or Geneva, we’re happy to book extra accommodation for you and help out with suggestions on other things you can do in the area. Either way, you’ll go home relaxed and refreshed after your active journey around one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, and enjoying a quintessential European Alps experience in true Active style.
All guiding services
- Two experienced guides per trip. In Europe you'll have a Kiwi trip leader and a team of local European guides.
- Local lodges chosen for their comfort, charm and sublime views.
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner. You'll be treated to a culinary experience, to rival any in the world.
- Hiking, biking, kayaking, via ferrata, historical sites and more.
- Airport transfers
- When you're not travelling under your own steam, they'll be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.
- Main piece of luggage: a sports bag with wheels, a suitcase, a backpack or similar.
- Daypack: used for day trips and on the bus. Must be well fitting with supportive shoulder straps and a waist-strap. Should be large enough for your water bottle, packed lunch, raincoat, fleece, camera and personal items. Size 30 litres (2000 cubic inches).
- Hiking boots: required for most days of the trip. Sturdy boots with good ankle support and solid tread are required. They should be comfortable, well worn-in and waterproofed.
- Trail runners/running shoes: for cycling, casual wear, and to wear when your boots are wet!
- Light sandals: good to wear in the rifugio’s in the evenings
- Waterproof rain jacket/shell: a breathable, unpadded shell jacket with a hood which keeps you dry when active. Ponchos are not suitable.
- Waterproof rain pants: for keeping dry and active on rainy days.
- Fleece/down jacket/wool sweater: one or two something nice and warm for cold days and nights
- Shirts/T-shirts: two or three, some cotton, some quick-dry
- Long-sleeve shirts: one or two, some cotton, some quick-dry, and for insect protection.
- Lightweight trousers: one or two pairs, for cooler nights, higher elevations and insect protection. At least one quick-dry pair is recommended.
- Shorts: one or two pairs, some cotton, some quick-dry.
- Thermal underwear: two top and bottom sets of thermal/polypropylene underwear - you’ll be using these a lot.
- Pyjamas/nightwear: or similar.
- Socks: three or four pairs. Some good quality hiking socks, some warm, some casual.
- Swim suit/shorts: for kayaking, and also any swimming opportunities.
- Travel towel: for sea kayaking.
- Warm hat: wool/fleece ski hat, or similar.
- Sun hat: baseball cap, or similar.
- Sunglasses: with a retainer strap if you have one.
- Warm gloves: wool/fleece gloves.
- Water bottle/bladder: two litre volume.
- Camera: memory cards and batteries/charger.
- Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, facecloth, prescription medications, glasses/lenses, shaving gear, feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, hand sanitiser etc (some accommodations provide some of these and some don’t, so it’s best to bring your own).
- Personal first aid kit: for any essential items that you know you’ll need e.g. blister treatment if you are prone to blisters. Your guides also carry a group first aid kit.
- Sun-block: maximum SPF UVA/UVB broad spectrum recommended.
- Hiking poles: not essential, though we highly recommend bringing one or two poles with you to support your knees during the hikes.
- Hiking gaiters: not essential, though great for this trip to keep the tops of your boots and socks dry and they add warmth.
- Cycling gear: cycling shorts and cycling gloves.
- Alarm clock: for those mornings you’ll need to get up early.
- Adapter plug: required for France, Italy & Switzerland, depends on your home country.
- Casual clothes: if you’d like to bring a nice skirt/shirt to wear out to dinner.
- Energy snacks and drinks: while snacks will be provided, you may like to bring some along too if you have special dietary needs.
- Hairdryer: provided by most accommodations though not all so you may wish to bring your own as well.
- Pocket knife
- iPod/mp3 player
- Reading material
If you’re ready to get on board the Tour du Mont Blanc guided trekking tour, you can hit the button below to check the availability on board your desired departure, and one of our Europe travel guru’s will get right back to you to chat about the finer details.
If you’re still in the research phase of your trip, you can hit the other button below to request your free brochure! Either we’ll send one straight to your email inbox, or post one to you anywhere in the world!
Go ahead, there are no obligations!
Why travel with Active Adventures?
Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.
We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.
As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.
Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.
With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.
It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.