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Journeys worth taking

France, Italy, Switzerland

Tour du Mont Blanc: Budget Friendly

The Alps

Around the Mont Blanc Massif in 10 Stages

Lodging

Hotels, Refuges, Gites

Nights

11

Trip Details

Self Guided

Price

$1,600 USD per person

Transport

Your feet

Pygmy miles

3,496

Experience
Experience
Itinerary
Pygmy miles
Accommodation
Practical info

Experience

Journey

During this 10 stage hike around one of the most iconic Massifs in the world, you will experience Tour du Mount Blanc and the three countries it lies on in an amazing 170km Journey. With over 10,000 meters of ascent and decent, you will find yourself hiking to each of your accommodations accomplished and hungry for more. For this budget friendly trek, we have 8 nights of shared dormitories in the lively mountain huts, gites and inns sprinkled through France, Italy, and Switzerland. With the energetic and communal atmosphere, they are perfect for meeting other world travelers and sharing your stories. You can always request a private room as well (everything is customized for you). In Chamonix and Courmayeur, we have included three star hotels (Hotel de l'Arve and Hotel Bouton D'Or), however we also work with four and five star properties as well. A few customization options are listed below:

  • If you would like to reduce the hiking difficulty, we can easily adapt the itinerary to 11 or 12 stages. 
  • Furthermore, rest days can be added in Chamonix and Courmayeur where there are a plethora of activities, cuisine, and lively atmosphere to indulge in.
  • Baggage transfer to/from your accommodations is not included in this quotation. Please upgrade to comfort to include baggage transfers.

Itinerary options

Adjusting the hike to your budget and preferences

BUDGET FRIENDLY

$1,600 USD per person
  • 11 NTS / 10 Stages
  • Three NTS at 3-Star Hotels
  • Eight NTS Dorms

IN COMFORT

$2,600 USD per person
  • 12 NTS / 11 Stages
  • Three NTS 4-Star hotels
  • All Private Rooms
  • Baggage Transfers

IN LUX AND STYLE

$3,575 USD per person
  • 13 NTS / 11 Stages 
  • Four NTS 5-Star Hotels
  • All Private Rooms
  • Baggage Transfers
  • Private Airport Transfers
  • One Rest Day
  • First Day Guide 

HALF TOUR: EAST

$1,750 USD per person
  • 7 NTS / 6 Stages
  • France, Italy and Switzerland
  • Great Infrastructure 
  • 4-Star Hotels and Private Rooms

HALF TOUR: WEST

$1,550 USD per person
  • 6 NTS/ 5 Stages
  • France and Italy
  • More Remote
  • 4-Star Hotels and Private Rooms
...an altitude gain and loss of over 6.2 miles (10 km), which is more than the height of Everest

Activities

Trekking

Trek 107 miles (170 km) around the largest mountain in Europe with an altitude gain and loss of over 6.2 miles (10 km), which is more than the height of Everest.

Wildlife Viewing

Along the trek, it is not uncommon to spot several species of wildlife native to the Alps. Of note are the chamois (a goat-antelope type species), and the marmot (looks a bit like a beaver).

And also

You will visit tiny hamlets hidden deep in the mountains, experience awe inspiring views and challenge yourself along the storied and picturesque Alps. 

Place

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a long distance trekking trail passing through France, Switzerland and Italy. The complete circuit is approximately 107 miles and has an altitude gain and loss of 6.2 miles (10 km), which is more than the height of Everest. The trail can be completed by marathon runners, however, it is comfortably hiked in 10 or 11 stages (for the very fit, 7 or 8 days will provide a decent challenge). 

Itinerary

Track

Itinerary

Day-1

Overnight in Chamonix

Take the day to enjoy the facilities at your hotel and get plenty of rest, because tomorrow your journey begins. Overnight at Hotel de l'Arve or a similar 3-star hotel.

Day-2

Chamonix to Les Houches (5 hours |12.9 km / 8 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 2,104 m / 6,902 feet)

Climb on the gondola to ride from Chamonix Valley to the top of Le Brévent at 8,284 feet (2,525 meters). On your very first day, weather permitting you will have a clear view of Mont Blanc. After savoring the view, you will make your way downhill to Les Houches (3,300 feet / 1,007 meters). At 3 hours, today’s hike is short in order to ease your body into the physical demands of mountain hiking. Overnight at Hotel du Bois or similar 3-star hotel. (incl. Half Board)

Day-3

Les Houches to Refuge Nant Borrant (7 hours | 22 km / 13.75 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 1,931 m / 6,335 feet)

Multiple transport options are available to make this trek easier. It’s about 2.5 hours to Col de Voza (Col = saddle), which sits at 1,653 meters (5,423 feet). You can take one of two cable cars to a point above the col (either Prarion or Bellevue) and walk down. From the col, it is then roughly 2 hours to get to Tresse, where a bus is available to take you into Les Contamines. Continuing past Tresse, you will hike through more hamlets before reaching the river, which you will follow all the way into Les Contamines. From Les Contamines, it will take approximately 50 minutes to reach Notre Dame le Gorge. Stop to admire the baroque church and the old roman bridge, before starting a steep ascent to Refuge Nant Borrant, which you should reach within another 45 minutes. Overnight at Refuge Nant Borrant. (incl. Half Board)

Day-4

Refuge Nant Borrant to Refuge des Mottets (7 hours | 15 km / 9.5 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 2,205 m / 7,234 ft)

A beautiful, yet difficult stage, today you will be heading over Col du Bonhomme and Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. After reaching the second col, there are two options, one which goes directly to Refuge des Mottets through Col des Fours (time savings of 1 hour), and one which continues down to Les Chapieux. If there is bad weather, or snow on the passes, it is recommended to take the lower route to Les Chapieux. Please note that you are now entering a more wild section of the TMB - there will be no ATMs until you reach Courmayeur. Still, there are quite a few shelters along the way. Overnight at Refuge des Mottets in four person dormitory. (incl. Half Board)

Day-5

Refuge des Mottets to Courmayeur (8.5 hours | 23.6 km / 14.7 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 3,004 m / 9,855 ft)

Since you bypassed Les Chapieux the day before, you have a fairly easy 3-hour day in front of you passing over Col de la Seigne. If you have time constraints or wish to avoid staying in a communal dorm, you can combine this stage with the next one and overnight in Courmayeur. Overnight at Rifugio Elisabetta. (incl. Half Board)

Day-6

Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti (4.5 hours | 11.8 km / 7.3 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 1,311 m / 4,301 ft)

It keeps getting better—today’s views of the Monte Bianco from the Italian side might be the best of the tour. After an initial climb out of Courmayeur which gains most of your elevation for the day, the main route follows an easy route along Mont de la Saxe with views of Mont Blanc and ice of the Val Ferret. For the more hearty walkers, two higher elevation alternatives exist, however the main route will take you about 5 hours to complete. Your day ends at Rifugio Bonatti, possibly the nicest and most well-equipped refuge on the tour. Overnight in private en suite at Rifugio Bonatti (spaces limited, inquire early to reserve spot; incl. Half Board).

Day-7

Rifugio Bonatti to Ferret (5.5 hours | 16 km / 10 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 2,038 m / 6,686 feet)

Do you hear those cow bells? That's the sound of Switzerland. The high point of today's hike is the Grand Col Ferret (8,356 feet / 2,537 meters) and is a taxing climb that separates Italy from Switzerland. The TMB in Switzerland may lack some of the big mountain appeal of Italy and France, but it more than makes up for it with the idyllic landscape and quaint hamlets of the Val Ferret, the Swiss valley through which the TMB snakes. Overnight at Hotel Col du Fenetre. (incl. Half Board)

Day-8

Ferret to Champex d'en Haut (5.5 hours | 18.9 km / 11.8 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 1,260 m / 4,133 feet)

After your long hike up Col Ferret, you are rewarded with perhaps the easiest stage of the TMB. Today's hike is through a valley dotted with farms and pastoral life. It's a throwback to a different time. Take your time here and let a slower way of life fill your day. Overnight at Hotel Splendide. (incl. Half Board)

Day-9

Champex d'en Haut to Trient (5 hours | 14 km / 8.75 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 1,611 m / 5,285 feet)

Hikers have two options to reach Col de Forclaz and later Trient. The main route goes over "Alp Bovine", and Collet Portalo, the highest point of the stage at 2,048 meters above sea level. Although perhaps not as spectacular as the alternative high route, it still impresses with views of the Martigny Valley miles below. The path snakes its way across fields, meadows and forests and provides a good amount of elevation change and challenge. The long climb to Alp Bovine can seem to take an eternity. Be prepared for two hours of uphill. Carrying an altimeter can help you know how close you are to the top of the trek at Collet Portalo. The alternate route goes through Fenetre d'Arpette, and is a true high route. Overnight at Hotel La Grande Ourse. (incl. Half Board)

Day-10

Trient to Trient (6 hours | 16.1 km / 10 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 2,306 m / 7,565 feet)

Ah chérie, you have made it back to France! The trip from Trient to Argentièreis not particularly difficult and you catch the first glimpse of the rounded peak of Mont Blanc since you left Italy. In France, you return to the Vallée de l'Arve, which appears at the foot of Mont Blanc, the Monarch of the Alps. Overnight at Gite Le Boerne (incl. Half Board)

Day-11

Argentière to Planpraz (6 hours | 14.2 km / 8.8 mi | Elevation ⇅ - 1,592 m / 5,223 feet)

We've saved one of the most interesting treks with perhaps the most splendid views for last. The main route uses a number of ladder and chain systems to ascend to Tête aux Vents. If you have vertigo or are jittery with heights, there is an alternative route via Col des Montets that avoids the ladder section. After reaching Tête aux Vents, the route levels off and descends gradually to Refuge de la Flégère (4 hours). The refuge is a nice spot to sit and take lunch and gather your strength for the final push to Le Brévent, where you started your hike. Le Brévent has long been considered the best view point of Mont Blanc and is where many people stood to witness the historic first climb of the mountain. The final ascent to Le Brévent includes two ladders near the top; optionally, take the cable car down at Planpraz and avoid some 1,700 feet (518 meters) of climbing. Congrats! You've done it. Take the lift down to Chamonix from Le Brévent and enjoy your evening at Hotel de l'Arve. (incl. Breakfast)

Day-12

Chamonix

After a leisurely breakfast, you have the day open until your flight to enjoy the town. Alternatively, why not have a spa day? You've earned it. Ciao! Au revoir!

Pygmy miles

Pygmy Miles Total

Challenge
Hiking
Bicycle
Sustainability
Miscellaneous
1490pygmy miles

Base Miles

You earn 1 Pygmy Mile for each $1 you spend with us.

1070pygmy miles

Hiking Distance

You earn 10 Pygmy Miles for every mile that you hike. Get fit and get rewarded.

468pygmy miles

Ascend More Feet Than Everest

The complete circuit is approximately 107 miles (170 km) and has an altitude gain and loss of over 6.2 miles (10 km), which is more than the height of Everest. If you make it all the way to the end, Pygmy Elephant will reward you with a 25% bonus.

468pygmy miles

Benefit Local Communities

A 25% bonus is given for supporting the economies of small hamlets, villages and locally owned refugios that may otherwise be missed if not for making the trek.

Total Pygmy Miles

3496pygmy miles

Accommodation

 

Hotel de l'Arve

Chamonix

Located in the middle of Chamonix, Hotel de l'Arve lies among its shops and cuisine. This lovely three-star hotel has 37 rooms, a wellness area and a flower garden with a view of Mont Blanc. Hotel de l'Arve will be the base for your first and last night.

Gite Michel Fagot

Les Houches

Located in the middle of Les Houches village, the Gite Michel Fagot offers a charming stay.

Refuge de Nant Borrant

Les Contamines

Situated 45 minutes from Notre Dame de la Gorge, on the Tour of Mont Blanc lies Refuge Nant Borrant. A cozy stay combined with a hearty meal will get you on the right track for the nest day.

Refuge des Mottets

Les Mottets

Once a dairy farm, the main lodge is decorated with old cheese-making tools and one of the dormitories is even a converted cow barn. A very unique stay and a tradition mountaineers paradise.

Hotel Bouton D' Or

Courmayeur

A family run three star hotel, Bouton D'Or is located close to downtown. A favorite among hikers, the hospitality is second to none. A great place for a rest day, if you are inclined.

Rifugio Bonatti

Rifugio Bonatti

Located at 6,640 feet (2, 025 meters) above sea level, this high mountain hut is a shining example of what a modern refuge should do. It features both dormitories and private rooms. The food is grand and so are the views. Not everyone speaks English, but enough of the staff does to make it comfortable.

Gite Bron Abri

Champex

Gite Bron Abri is a freindly hut right outside of town. The owner or somebody from the staff is always there if you need any help or information about the area. You can play table tennis or petanque and there are several board games as well. It accommodate up to 59 people in summer and 52 in winter.

Hotel du Col de Fenetre

La Fouly

Small typical Swiss mountain inn, located in the wonderful Val Ferret stage of the tour of Mont Blanc. The small hamlet of Ferret is located In the middle of nature, ideal for those who love silence and serenity.

Hotel La Grande Ourse

Trient

La Grande Ourse has both private rooms with shared bathrooms and small dormitories of up to 8 people. The rooms have been refurbished and provide a comfortable night’s sleep. Dining is together in the communal dining area.

Gite La Boerne

Argentier

The inn is located in a mountain cottage dating back to the eighteenth century. With fantastic hospitality and great cuisine, this mountain hut represents what mountaineering and community is all about.

Practical info

When

jan
feb
mar
apr
may
jun
jul
aug
sep
oct
nov
dec
not available
average
optimal

The trek is only possible in the summer months, when the trail has mostly shed winter conditions. In late June, the Tour du Mont Blanc shows off its color with wild flowers, but there can be snow and ice on the passes. Heavy travel periods are between the middle of July and the end of August. September can be a great time for the TMB, when the temperature is a bit cooler and there are fewer hikers on the road.

How

Self guided

Self guided does not mean you are alone. We help you coordinate and plan your trip beforehand. Once you are on the trail, we provide 24-hour customer service in case there are any urgent issues with your bookings.

Service Category

Pygmy Itineraries

PYGMY ITINERARY BENEFITS

  • Price Transparency: see where your money is going with line-item pricing
  • Never Lose Your Deposit Guarantee: 50% refund, 50% credit to future trip
  • Customized Handbook with Journey Details: maps, elevation profiles, tips and more
  • Destination Book Digital Travel App: everything in your handbook, in digital form
  • One Year Premium GAIA GPS Membership: your GPS routes, on your phone
  • Complete Itinerary Customization: build the trip you want to take
  • Special Meal Requests: we'll help you stick to your diet of choice
  • Before-You-Go Email Series: helpful emails to get you prepared for your trek
  • Transportation Options Information: timetables, routes and contact info
  • 24/7 Phone Support for Urgent Issues: give us a call if anything goes wrong
  • Email Support (24-hour turnaround): answers for not-so-urgent questions

Challenge Level

Technical Ability

Level : Medium

Mental Strength

Level : Medium

Physical Conditioning

Level : High

  • According to La Chamoniarde, a society dedicated to the conservation and rescue of mountain activities in France, the Tour Du Mont Blanc "... is adapted to any well-trained hiker used to hiking on mountain trails and familiar with carrying a backpack. This well-maintained and well-marked route can be tricky if hiked before the end of June/ early July, when mountain passes may still be covered in snow (light crampons, trekking poles, and ice axe may come in handy)". If you have little previous trekking experience, a group tour or privately guided tour is suggested. When the passes are free of snow, no technical mountaineering equipment is necessary. Still, you should be able to use a compass and a map. As such, the tour is rated as medium for technical ability.
  • Mental Strength is rated at medium because one must keep good spirits to complete the trip without transfers. Furthermore, the communal nature of the mountain huts can be loved... or hated. It depends on the mind frame of the traveler.
  • Lastly, physical conditioning is rated at high if no transfers are taken. Using public transport, ski lifts and private transport, the physical conditioning can be reduced significantly. We can provide a thorough explanation of transport options on the route.

Price

Approximately $1,600 USD per person, based on double occupancy

After initial consultation, we will customize your itinerary to meet your fitness level, budget, accommodation wishes and schedule. Depending on the journey, it might be possible to skip stages, rearrange their order, substitute accommodations, and add or subtract transfers. Find more information on the base itinerary and possible customizations below.

Base itinerary

  • 3 nights at 3-star hotels
  • 4 nights at gites and small inns
  • 3 nights at mountain huts
  • 10 breakfasts, 8 dinners
  • Turn-By-Turn Guidebook
  • Maps for west and east portions of tour

Customizations

  • Upgrade to 4-star or 5-star accommodation in Chamonix or Courmayeur
  • Upgrade dormitory rooms to private rooms (where applicable)
  • Include more nights in hotels
  • Increase or decrease number of hiking days, depending on fitness and motivation
  • Add public transport to shorten stages
  • Add in rest days 

Optional Add-ons

  • Travel insurance
  • Rest days in Chamonix, Courmayeur, Champex, or similar
  • Extensions to Switzerland

Not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers
  • Lunches
  • Dinners in Chamonix and Courmayeur
  • In-situ transportation fees
  • Baggage Transfers

Talk to our Adventure Expert

Our Managing Director, Andrew, has been to over 40 countries in his quest for the perfect adventure. He has biked the death road in Bolivia, trekked 500 miles across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago, cycled from Brussels to Florence and hiked the five sacred mountains of China. Pygmy Elephant is how he spreads his love for adventure and self discovery in the world.