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Tour du Mont Blanc

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This article is an itinerary.


Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is in the area of Chamonix, Mont_Blanc and French_Alps.

Understand[edit]

The Tour du Mont Blanc or TMB is one of the most popular long distance walks in Europe. It circles the Mont Blanc Massif covering a distance of roughly 170 km with 10 km of ascent and passes through parts of Switzerland, Italy and France.

It is considered one of the classic long distance walking trails. The circular route is normally walked in an anti-clockwise direction in 7 – 10 days. It is also the route of an annual mountain marathon in which the winner normally covers the entire distance in less than 24 hours. Usual start points are Les Houches in the Chamonix valley or Les Contamines in the Montjoie valley (in France), Courmayeur from the Italian side, and either Champex or a point near Martigny in Switzerland. The route passes through seven valleys around the Mont-Blanc massif, an anti-clockwise start in Chamonix would lead through the Chamonix (or Arve) valley, then Montjoie, Vallee des Glaciers, Italian Val Veni, & Val Ferret, Swiss Val Ferret, and either the Arpette or Trient valley in Switzerland, dependent on route taken.

The ‘official’ route has changed over the course of the years and many alternatives, or ‘Variantes’, exist to the standard route. Some of these take the intrepid walker onto paths requiring greater fitness, awareness and skill. Others provide conveniently less demanding options, which are often quicker than the accepted route but provide lesser viewpoints onto the mountain ranges. For a part of the way, between the summit of Brevent and the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme, the route coincides with the European long distance footpath GR5 as it makes its way from the North Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. A link can also be made with the walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt in the Swiss Alps.

Plentiful accommodations exist along the entire route, allowing the route to be broken into segments to suit virtually any fit person. The accommodation takes a variety of forms, from separate bedrooms to large mixed sex dormitories. One can normally obtain cooked meals at many of these places. With a start at Les Houches one might expect overnight stops at Les Contamines, Col de la Croix du Bonhomme refuge or Les Chapieux (depending on variant route taken), Elisabetta Soldini refuge, Courmayeur, Elena refuge, Champex, Trient village, Argentiere, La Flegere refuge and finally back to Les Houches. The sheer abundance of accommodation makes for very flexible route-planning and many options exist besides these. Despite this wealth of choice the tremendous popularity of the trail can lead to problems finding accommodations, especially towards the end of the day. It is, however, possible to book accommodation in advance.

The highest points on any variant of the trail are the Col des Fours in France and the Fenetre d'Arpette in Switzerland, both at an altitude of 2,665m (8,743 ft). Although, for most, this is not high enough to cause altitude sickness, the trail nevertheless represents a tough physical proposition. Experience of walking in mountain country should be considered vital. In addition the weather can change very rapidly indeed and one should always be suitably equipped for the challenge.

Prepare[edit]

  • Check Visa for France, Italy and Switzerland
  • Accommodation needs to be pre-booked (very full in peak season).
  • Check French School Holiday (more tourist)
  • Check French Tour de France route/schedule (more tourist)
  • Check date of Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (more tourist)
  • For hygiene and environmental reasons a sheet sleeping bag is obligatory in most Refugios
  • Cash (Some places do not accept credit card)
  • Double check route - For example some sections has ladders (alternative route possible).

Get in[edit]

  • Geneva Airport (GVA) + 3 Bus per day (2h, 20-25EUR one way)
  • Milan/Aosta/Torino : Bus "SAVDA" - switch in Courmayeur
  • Lyon : Train via Geneva (5hours)

Local Bus Orsières (CH)[edit]

  • In Switzerland the SBB operates two bus lines near the TMB. The current official timetable is available at "Fahrplanfelder".
    • Line 12.271 runs between Orsières and Champex (5 buses during the day, 22 minutes; CHF 6.80)
    • Line 12.272 runs between Orsières and La Fouly (and Ferret) (6 buses during the day, 22-30 minutes; CHF 8.40)

Local Bus Chamonix (Fr)[edit]

  • In Chamonix valley runs a local bus "montblancbus" connecting Chamonix with other 4 communes: Les Houches, Servoz, Argentiere, Vallorcine. Lines 1 (Les Houches) run every 30 minutes, Day Ticket = 3 EUR if you have no Guest Card (CARTE D’HÔTE)
  • Within Charmonix City Center exists a free shuttle service called Le Mulet
  • The Night Bus: Chamo'Nuit - from Les Houches to Argentière via Chamonix until midnight.
  • Chamonix - Courmayeur (Italy) 4 buses "SAVDA" ; 45min; 15EUR

The Circuit[edit]

The TMB Circuit and popular locations

Typically the ciruit is done anti-clockwise.

Altitude Anti-clockwise to next clockwise to next Location
1008 2:20 N/A Les Houches
1653 3:20 1:45 Col de Voza
1164 1:00 4:00 Les Contamines-Montjoie
1210 4:50 1:00 Notre-Dame de la Gorge
2479 2:20 3:30 Col de la Croix du Bonhomme
1554 3:45 3:05 Les Chapieux
2512 1:30 2:35 Col de la Seigne
1953 2:15 2:05 Lac Combal
1956 1:20 2:00 Col Chécrouit
1210 0:45 1:35 Dolonne
1389 1:30 0:35 Villair Supérieur
1989 3:45 1:00 Praz de la Saxe
1776 2:05 3:55 Arp Nouva
2537 2:45 1:40 Grand Col Ferret
1593 2:20 3:45 La Fouly
1151 1:50 2:30 Praz de Fort
1466 4:30 1:40 Champex-Lac
1526 0:30 4:10 Col de la Forclaz
1279 2:45 0:50 Trient
2191 3:25 1:50 Col de Balme
1197 3:45 4:00 Col des Posettes
1877 2:00 3:00 La Flégère
1999 1:45 2:00 Le Brévent
2525 3:15 1:15 Planpraz
1008 N/A 5:10 Les Houches

Villages/Departure Points[edit]

The majority starts in Charmonix or Les Houches but other villages are possible. Typically the the trek goes around towns/villages i.e. you have to detour (that might include a high altitude difference)

Departure Point ATM/Cash-Machine Supermarket/Grocery-Store
Charmonix
  • BNP Paribas, 111 Rue du Dr Paccard, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France.  edit
  • Banque Palatine, 7 Avenue du Mont Blanc, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France.  edit
  • Casino supermarché, 17 Av. du Mt Blanc Centre Commercial Alpina, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. Mon-Sat 8:30AM-8:00PM; SUN 9:00AM-12:30PM.  edit
  • Super U et drive, 117 Rue Joseph Vallot, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. Mon-Sat 8:15AM-7:30PM; SUN 8:30AM-12:00PM.  edit
  • Casino marché, 48 Rue du Dr Paccard, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France.  edit
  • Supermarché Spar, 95 Place Edmond Desailloud, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. Mon-Sun 7:30AM-8PM.  edit
  • Carrefour Market Chamonix Mont Blanc, 339 Route Blanche, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. Mon-Sat 8AM-7:30PM; SUN 8:30AM-12:30PM.  edit
  • Marché U Chamonix Pèlerins/Super U - Les Pèlerin, spl des Séracs - les Pélerins, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. Mon-Fri 8:15AM-7:30PM; SAT 8:30AM-12:00PM; Sun: closed.  edit
Les Houches Credit Agricole des Savoie, 75 Place de la Mairie, 74310 Les Houches, France.  edit
  • Super U, 956 av des Alpages. Mon-Sat 8:00AM-7:30PM; Sun 8:30AM-12:30PM;.  edit
Saint Gervais-les-Bains no; village relative far from trail no; village relative far from trail
Les Contamines-Montjoie
  • Banque Populaire Auvergne Rhône Alpes, Immeuble Le Savoy.  edit
  • Crédit Agricole des Savoie, 66 Route de Saint-Gervais.  edit
  • Carrefour Montagne Les Contamines, 109 Route de Notre Dame de la Gorge, 74170 Les Contamines-Montjoie, France. Mon-Sun 8:00AM-8:00PM.  edit
Les Chapieux no ATM market for basic stuff (poorly stocked ?)
Courmayeur
  • UniCredit, Via Circonvallazione, 3, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy.  edit
  • INTESA SANPAOLO S.P.A. - FILIALE PRIVATI E BUSINESS, Piazza Brocherel, 3, 11013 Courmayeur AO.  edit
  • Carrefour Express - Supermercato, Via Circonvallazione, 33, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy. Mon-Sat 7:30AM-1PM; 3:30PM-7:30PM.  edit
  • Lg Supermercati S.R.L., Via Regionale, 45, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy.  edit
  • Lg Supermercati Srl, Str. Larzey - Entreves, 4, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy. Mon-Sun 8:00AM-7:30PM.  edit
La Fouly no bank or ATM Supermarché la Fouly Sàrl (?).  edit
Champes-Lac Reiffeisen Bancomat, Route du Lac 13, 1938 Orsières, Switzerland.  edit Proxi supermarket. depending on season.  edit
With bus: Orsières (Pam); Sembrancher (Coop)
Trient no ATM no supermarket
Vallorcine no ATM Maytraud Stephane. Mon-Sun 9:00AM-12:30PM; 2:00PM-6:00PM. but far away from trail  edit
Charmonix/Argentiere ATM available Marché U Chamonix Argentière, 39 Place du Marché, Rue Charlet Straton, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. Mon-Sat 8:00AM-7:30PM; SUN 8:00AM-12:30PM.  edit

Camping[edit]

Rules[edit]

  • It is against the law to wild camp below 2500m.
  • Up in the mountains, sometimes camping possible as long as you do not put up your tent until late in the day and take it down early in the morning.
  • ask Operator of Refuges if you are allowed to camp nearby (typically no).
  • Ask at the Refuges, they will explain the local rules, and don’t camp within sight of them unless they indicate that it is permitted, or they may be fined as well as you for illegal wild camping.
  • It goes without saying, leave no trace.
  • It’s not possible to book the campsites in advance
  • It is possible to eat at the huts even if you aren’t staying in them
  • There are plug sockets (electricity) in the shower/toilet blocks.
  • Wild Camping prohibited in Switzerland
  • costs around 15-20 EUR per night

Campgrounds[edit]

Village/Refugio Name
Charmonix
  • Camping de la Mer de Glace, 200 Chemin de la Bagna, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, [1].  edit
  • Camping Les Arolles, 281 Chemin du Cry, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, [2].  edit
  • Camping On The Island Des Barrats, 185 Chemin de l'Île des Barrats, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, [3].  edit
  • Camping Les Molliasses, Chemin A Batioret, route Blanche, Chamonix-mont-blanc, 74400, 74400, France.  edit
  • Camping Les Marmottes, Lieu-dit Les Bossons, 140 Chemin des Doux, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, [4].  edit
  • Camping les Cimes, 28 Route des Tissières, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, [5].  edit
  • Groupement Campeur Universitaire, Route des Tissières, 74400 Bossons (Les), France, [6].  edit
  • Les Deux Glaciers, 80 Route des Tissières, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, [7].  edit
  • Camping Verneys, 180 Route des Tissières, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, [8].  edit
  • Camping Le Grand Champ, CHAMONIX, 167 Chemin du Glacier de Taconnaz, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, [9].  edit
Les Houches
  • Camping Bellevue, 136 Route du Nant Jorland, 74310 Les Houches, France, [10].  edit
  • Chalet-Hôtel du Prarion - 1860m, [11]. Camping permitted close to the hut  edit
  • Refuge du Fioux, [12]. Camping allowed upon payment of approx. 5 EUR to the owner  edit
  • Refuge de Miage - 1560 m, [13]. Camping allowed by the stream  edit
Les Contamines
  • Refuge de Tré-la-Tête - 1970 m, [14]. Camping allowed from dusk until dawn  edit
  • Gîte le Pontet - 1190 m, [15]. 40 min from down center  edit
  • Refuge de Nant Borrant - 1459 m, [16]. Camping available 10 minutes from the hut, free access  edit
  • Refuge de La Balme - 1706 m, [17]. Camping is allowed near the hut with the agreement of the warden  edit
Les Chapieux - Bourg Saint Maurice (F)
  • Refuge de La Croix du Bonhomme - 2443 m, [18]. Camping allowed near the hut with the agreement of the warden  edit
  • Auberge de La Nova - 1550 m, [19]. Camping is permitted close to the hut  edit
  • Refuge Robert Blanc 2752 m, [20]. Camping because over 2500m ?  edit
  • Rifugio Elisabetta Soldini - 2195 m, [21]. Officially no, but it seems it will be tolerated  edit
Courmayeur
  • "Campeggio, Courmayeur loc. Peuterey 1 Val Veny, 45°48‘17,53’’N - 6°55‘24,60’’E, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy, [22]. Off the trek  edit
  • Camping Aiguille-Noire, 11013 Courmayeur Aosta Valley, Italy, [23]. Off the trek  edit
  • Camping HOBO Val Veny, Località Cuignon, 7, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy, [24]. Off the trek  edit
  • Camping Grandes Jorasses.  edit
  • Camping Grandes Jorasses, Strada Val Ferret, 53, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy, [25]. Off the trek  edit
  • Camping Tronchey, 15 Localita' Tronchey Val Ferret, Courmayeur, AO 11013, Italy, [26]. Off the trek  edit
  • Campeggio TRONCHEY, Frazione Tronchey, 3, 11013 Courmayeur AO, Italy, [27]. Off the trek  edit
Lal Veny – La Peule hut or 10+hours walk or hut
La Fouly
  • Camping Glaciers, Chemin de Tsamodet 36, 1944 Orsières, Switzerland, [28].  edit
Champex
  • Les Rocailles, 1938 Orsières, Switzerland, [29].  edit
  • Relais d'Arpette - 1630 m, [30].  edit
Trient (CH)
  • Les Rocailles, 1938 Orsières, Switzerland, [31].  edit
La Forclaz
  • Hotel de La Forclaz - 1526 m, [32]. campsite with showers and WC close to the hotel  edit
  • Le Peuty. This camping is 30 minutes walk down hill from the hotel  edit
Charmonix/Argentière
  • Camping du Glacier d'Argentiere, 161 Chemin des Chosalets, 74400 Argentière, France, [33]. 13EUR.  edit

Stopovers[edit]

There are many Accommodations. The challenge is to make sure the route is feasible and space is available.

The webpage " Autour de Mont-Blanc" helps individual trekkers to create an itinerary (Accommodation and distance to the next accommodations [34])

Example itinerary[edit]

StartDestinationKilometerHoursAscent MeterDescent Meter
 
Les HouchesRefuge du Truc12.8km4:591536m775m
Refuge du TrucLa Balme11.4km3:10544m601m
La BalmeLes Mottets15.9km4:231166m995m
Les MottetsCol de Chercroui18.9km5:341136m1038m
Col de ChercrouiCourmayeur5.78km1:2088m796m
CourmayeurRifugio Bertone4.12km1:47727m0m
Rifugio BertoneRifugio Elena19.5km5:061163m1086m
Rifugio ElenaChampex28.2km7:441045m1656m
ChampexLe Peuty13.6km6:011213m1274m
Le PeutyTre-le-Champ15.7km5:251219m1108m
Tre-le-ChampRefuge Flegere7.99km3:18855m413m
Refuge FlegereLes Houches19.6km6:25889m1773m
 
Total:173.5km55 hours11.603 Meter11.895 Meter

Stay safe[edit]

  • Be prepared for bad weather (snow/wind/summer storm)
  • Do not leave Trail

Go next[edit]

  • Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt (Matterhorn)
  • Matterhorn by Train:
 Train (3 hours/70 CHF one way) from
 * Chamonix via Le Châtelard-Frontière, Martigny, Visp to Zermatt.
 * Without Border crossing in Switzerland from Orsieres, via Martigny, Visp to Zermatt.
This is a usable itinerary. It explains how to get there and touches on all the major points along the way. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!