The first time I heard about Tour du Mont Blanc I was so impressed by the possibility of walking through three different countries in only one week. So when I had the opportunity to do this adventure I was thrilled and packed everything right away.
For those who do not know, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe west of the Caucasus. Also, it is the most popular long walk in Europe and a highly desirable adventure for everyone who loves hiking in a beautiful environment.
The first pedestrian tour around Tour du Mont Blanc took place as long ago as 1767, when Horace-Bénédict de Saussure and friends set out from Chamonix.
The Tour du Mont Blanc crosses three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland – in seven days. During the walking, we were surrounded by exquisite mountain scenery and landscapes.
First day – Arrival – Chamonix
We got to this charming town in the middle of the French Alps after we drove from Lyon for about 3 hours. The town is very well known for all the outdoor activities that you can do from there, either in winter or in the summer. We were amazed by the views of, not only the mountains but also the enormous glaciers.
We decided to enjoy a little bit of the town before we started the Tour du Mont Blanc, so we did a little shopping in the supermarket for a picnic the following day: typical nuts, sandwich bread and cheese, and chocolate.
We were excited to start our walk the following day, so we went to the tourist office and ask for the weather and a train timetable.
Tip of the day: Check with the reception for the Carte d’Hôte Pass. This pass has many advantages such as free travel on buses and trains for internal journeys in Tour du Mont Blanc, including between Servoz and Vallorcine, as well as concession rates for admission to public sports and arts facilities. The pass is given to you free of charge by your accommodation host on your arrival.
Day 2: walking from Les Houches
In the second day in Tour du Mont Blanc, we skip a part of the walk taking the train to Les Contamines.
We made a walk from Les Houches to Les Contamines by the lowest path as the weather was not that good.
The mountains view during the walking combined with the sound of the cowbells accompanying us since they’re all the way was great!
Tip of the day – Please note that the in the small train stations you have to make a sign to the driver for them to stop as if it was the bus, and also it`s important to know the day of the week you`ll be there to avoid a long waiting’s (normally there are less service on Saturday and Sunday).
Day 3: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux
We had joined some Americans and three people from Switzerland on the third day. If you are a nature lover you might enjoy, as we did, to pick up blueberries and raspberries and eat them as you go. This day the maximum altitude was 2,483m and the views were worth the effort to get up there.
This day was especially nice as when we got to Les Chapieux. The owner of the Gite where we stayed shared a lot of his knowledge with us and also with the other customers. We all had a nice big dinner together (well deserved after a long day walk).
Tip of the day: If you like a good meal, please, do not leave this trip without having tried the Raclette or the Fondue, this is a must if you enjoy eating, also taste the Genepi a liquor from Mont Blanc area.
Day 4: From Les Chapieux to Courmayeur
It was a long day walk so the Hotel owner drove us up to Ville the Glaciers. As it was low season there was no local bus running so he gave us a lift. This saved us 5 km, so 1 hour walk along the road. He also shows us the local cheese making factory, huge cheeses were lying there, yummy and smelly!!
This was one of my favourite days, as we got to see the Marmottes (groundhog), they are all over the place once you reach the highest point of Col de la Seigne where you feel you can nearly touch the Mont Blanc. You will enter that day in Italy.
Tip of the day: Indulge yourself with a handmade ice-cream in Courmayeur, after all, you really deserve a treat. Remember that the way down into Courmayeur is very steep so take it easy and do some zig-zag to protects your knees.
Day 5: Courmayeur to Champex-Lac
Everyday during the Tour du Mont Blanc Mountain we walked with different people and seeing some of our old friends from previous days here and there. In the fifth day we walked with the Canadians, they were well equipped for their skiing gear.
We realized that Italy is not as well marked as France was, but always follow the yellow TMB signs and that will do. Remember that after all you are going through 3 very different countries in just a few days, do not be shocked, relax and enjoy their singularities.
The fog did not let us see much in the early hours of the day, but we still enjoyed the walk. The highest point of the day is 2,537 (Grand Col Ferret) quite an achievement.
In the end of the day, we got into Switzerland! Champex-Lac is a beautiful very charming village with a stunning lake.
Tip of the day: Make use of bus transport to Arpnuva and then from la Fouly to Champex to help you in the part of the Mont Blanc tour.
Day 6: From Champex-Lac to Trient
Another day of fog in Tour du Mont Blanc. The good part is that the signposts are good along the way and we had the name of the places where we were going to/or you were passing by.
For some reason, this day felt a little bit longer. Probably because the previous day we have taken the bus. Therefore it was not only walking but also waiting and getting the transportation, what it made it really different from this other day when we walked and walked.
Again like any other day, the views on arrival made it all worth it. We did not have the best weather you can possibly have but we tried to make the most out of the trip, and who knows we might not go again.
Tip of the day: Be prepare for the amazing views and make sure you print those mountains and valleys on your head forever.
Day 7: From Trient to Argentiere and bus to Chamonix
The sad goodbye, the last walking in Tour du Mont Blanc. Now when we were starting to feel we are getting used to this routine of going to bed early, waking up with the sun and walking our legs off, you sadly have to say bye-bye.
Although they say this is one of the most beautiful day of the trip in Mont Blanc, we could not see anything. There were fog and very little rain that would not let us enjoy the views.
We were happy that we chose walking without carrying our bags, in the bad weather and also with the wind was not fun watching people carrying those heavy bags. People were a little jealous when we passed them by.
Some extra tips for you guys
- Get prepared before you go, this is a tough walk through Tour du Mont Blanc. So the more prepared you will be the better you will enjoy it.
- Get the proper gear, good walking shoes/boots and think about bringing some waterproof these are high mountains you will be walking to, please wear them as much as you can before you go, bring your walking poles if you are comfortable walking with them.
- Ask all the questions you may have before you go, make a plan of what you are going to walk the evening before of every walk.
- Bring enough food and water at the end of the day although there are some places to stop, they can occasionally be closed so you should be responsible and have enough for the day with you. You do not want to feel anxious because you are hungry or rush to the next stop.
- Talk to the people, wonderful people walking this tour from all over that world. And please, if you think you know something and see someone a bit lost do not hesitate in giving your knowledge away the other will appreciate it. (bus timetable, a nice place to eat)
- Keep safe, please stay on the marked path and if the weather is not nice just stick to the low altitude path according to your notes and the sign Tour du Mont Blanc posts.
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By Silvia Montesdeoca