Hiking around Mont Blanc, which rises in its grandness at 4810 m, will be one of the most memorable experience you will have.
Switchbacks, mountain passes, magnificent peaks and impressive glaciers will create memories that last a lifetime.
The massif is surrounded and intersected by 7 valleys that spread across 3 countries. The Swiss Valaise, Italian Aosta Valley and French Savoies are linked by history and traditions.
Most tours start at Les Houches, near Chamonix and head off in counterclockwise.
Our journey begins at Montroc and the tour was done in clockwise direction. The clockwise direction you travel against the flow and the first hours of walking the path is empty. Regarding ascents and descents the difference is not significant.
Montroc to Trient
First day started in Montroc. The small village of Montroc was hit in 9th of February 1999 by a massive avalanche that killed 12 people.
From Montroc railway station go up following Argullette des Possettes to Col de Possettes 1997 m turning right towards Col de Balme 2204 m and then down to Trient via Le Peuty. Refuge de Balme at 2191 m is the Franco- Swiss border. Trient is a small village and we stayed at hotel Grand Ourse. In the village there is a beautiful pink church and cemetery worth a visit. At the end of August the Ultra Trail Mountain Marathon is organised and Trient was full of life and celebrations.
From Col de Balme you have great views towards Col de la Forclaz and Trient.
This is a 14.21 km route in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, B9, France. The route has a total ascent of 908.24 m and has a maximum elevation of 2,218.03 m . Time to destination was 5 hours.
Trient to Arpette
The second day we decided to take the higher mountain route the mythic Fenetre D’Arpette.
From Trient cross the main road Au Village follow the road through the forest and the path towards Fenetre D’Arpette. As the Fenetre D’Arpette came into view we climbed through rocky area, pass the glacier du Trient to reach the Fenetre D’ Arpette at 2665 m the highest point of our trip. After soaking the views and catching our breath we started going down the other site to Champex . This proved to be more difficult, as we had to negotiate our way through fields of boulders.
Accomodation was at Pelais D’Arpette.
This is a 13.9 km route in Orsières, VS, Switzerland. The route has a total ascent of 1307.43 m and has a maximum elevation of 2,672.78 m. Total time 7 hours.
Ferret to La Vachey
Bus was taken from Arpette to Ferret. From Ferret we walked on the road a bit then turned right to climb to Le Peule. Some short cuts were taken on a zig zag road, reaching a foggy Le Peule .
From Le Peule we climbed to Col Grand Ferret with beautiful vistas and the border stone between Italy and Switzerland. We started descending through pastoral scenery towards Refugio Elena. All the way you enjoy amazing scenery of the high Alps. From Refugio Elena you descend through the Val de Ferret until you reach the road and then you can take the bus to La Vachey.
This is a 12.44 km route in Orsières, VS, Switzerland. The route has a total ascent of 814.58 m and has a maximum elevation of 2,530.58 m. Time to destination 5 hours.
La Vachey to Courmayeur
From hotel La Vachey follow the road Frazione Pra Sec Dessons to Val Ferrett turn right pass Refugio Bertone tocome down to Courmayeur via Rue val Sapin
This is a 11.69 km route in Courmayeur, 19, Italy. The route has a total ascent of 499.35 m and has a maximum elevation of 2,063.87 m. Time 5 hours.
From Courmayeur we took the bus and walked from where we left the bus 30 minutes to Refugio Monte Bianco.
Courmayeur is the Italian equivalent of French Chamonix. The town has high end shops, numerous cafes and restaurants. It is a favorite stop for those hiking Tour du Mont Blanc.
Refugio Monte Bianco -Col De La Seigne -Les Mottets
From Refugio Monte Bianco ( 1670 m) turn left and climb towards the ski slope and go up to departure of the chairlift. Just before the chairlift take the small path on the left that is winding up in the forest to the Refuge of Maison Vielle. From here continue towards the Checrouit and climb to reach Refugio Elisabetta. At Refugio Elisabetta you can have your lunch and a very good coffee. From here go down via Val Veny to take the path that goes to Cassermetta of Col de la Seigne. Now Cassermetta is a centre for environmental studies and uses only renewable energy sources.
Climb some more to reach the border between France and Italy and Col de Seigne ( 2516 m ). Col de la Seigne is a pass known as far back as Roman times. A good rest at the pass and after admiring the stunning views, take the track towards Refuge des Mottets.
After 1 hour and 15 minutes you arrive at Refuge des Mottets (1870 m). The refuge has its characteristic large dining room. The meal is served at the same time for everyone. You have designated places at very long tables with plates of food being passed one from one another. Old french music played at the end made all an unique experience. The Refuge has small rooms and common showers.
This is a 20.55 km route in Courmayeur, 19, Italy. The route has a total ascent of 1288.2 m and has a maximum elevation of 2,510.13 m. Time 8 hours.
Les Mottets to Les Contamines
From refuge des Mottets follow the track to Ville des Glaciers turn right at the Chapelle pass Les Tufs to climb to Col des Fours (2661 m) among the pastures, along a stream left bank. Cross the pass, starting slightly to the left heading South/South-East. After passing at the foot of an electric pylon, the trail becomes more visible, walking on the ridge direction Col de Bonhomme(2329 m). From the Bonhomme pass take the direction La Balme-Notre Dame de la Gorge.
From Nant Borrant refuge (1463 m) continue straight along the ancient Roman road on a little more than 250 m vertical drop to Notre Dame de la Gorge. Notre Dame de la Gorge was the local parish church for the residents of the valley since the 13th century. The church was rebuilt in 1699 by Jean de Vougniaz.
This is a 17.43 km route in Séez, B9, France. The route has a total ascent of 897.25 m and has a maximum elevation of 2,681.41 m . Time 8 hours with breaks.
La Gruvaz to Les Houches
From Les Contamines, we have been driven to the start of the trail at the intersection Route de la Gruvaz with Route de la Villette. From here we followed Route de la Villette then turn right at Chemin des Chevreuils to reach Route du Champel. We continued on Chemin de l’Ormey turning right again to Bellevue for telacabin to Prion Les Houches.
This is a 9.03 km route in Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains, B9, France. The route has a total ascent of 954.06 m and has a maximum elevation of 1,799.51 m . Time 4 hours.
During the 7 days, we enjoyed stunning views, the genuine alpine experience and the delicious food. The trail for most of part is not technically difficult with most of the hikes between 10- 18 km and ascent and descent of 1000 meters. The GPS recording can assist with trekking but in some parts the GPS signal is lost so is very useful to have a map. General the treks are well marked . Watch out for Ibex, marmots and birds of prey.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the oldest and most beautiful treks in the world, a must do on your bucket list.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is up there with other iconic multi -day treks, Peru’s Machu Pitchu at https://aussietrailwalker.com/machu-picchu-inca-trail-cusco-peru/
and Alpe Adria Trail, Slovenia at https://aussietrailwalker.com/alpe-adria-trail-slovenia/