Tour du Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley

Destination: Chamonix, France

| Activities: Trekking, Hiking and Culture

Sitting astride the borders of three different countries (France, Switzerland and Italy) the Mont Blanc massif is massive! Mont Blanc, at 15,536 feet is the highest mountain in Western Europe. The rich alpine and cultural history of the area, the panoramic peaks, glaciers and alpine meadows, the windswept passes and the friendly small mountain towns all combine to make the circuit around Mont Blanc one of the premier hiking routes in Europe. The circuit is comprised of over 120 miles of trails which originally were trade routes and now link the seven valleys that surround Mont Blanc. Not surprisingly with this topography the hiking is challenging with long ups and long downs. The rewards are well worth the effort - breathtaking views, alpine hospitality and an international hiking community of which we are a part! While we will not be completing the entire circuit the section of the route we travel is widely regarded as the best.

Highlights

  • Spending a week immersed in an area of incredible natural beauty, where the mountains and glaciers are both majestic
  • Riding the spectacular lift system over the Mont Blanc valley and glacial system
  • Exploring the charming towns of Chamonix, France and Courmayeur, Italy - climbing and hiking villages of the world
  • Circumnavigating half way around the highest mountain in the Alps as we hike from France into Italy
  • Staying at diverse Alpine accommodations, from a 3 star hotel to a classic mountain hut

Departures and Prices

July 17 to July 25, 2022
$3135.00 - FULL
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Inclusions

  • One Adventures in Good Company guide (depending on group size) and a local guide
  • Eight nights accommodation, mostly double except for the 2 huts, which are dormitory style
  • All dinners and breakfasts from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 9 (water/coffee/tea included with dinners and breakfasts) with the exception of 1 dinner on your own on Day 2. There are 2 lunches included, all other lunches will be your responsibility.
  • All transportation listed on the itinerary
Not included: Transportation to Chamonix (the nearest airport is Geneva, Switzerland and from there it is easy to arrange a shuttle), 5 lunches, 1 dinner, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (except water with meals), personal snacks, guide gratuities, emergency/evacuation/medical mandatory insurance, additional activities not listed on the itinerary.

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is rated a 5, the most difficult rating AGC uses. It is appropriate for women who have hiking experience, are in excellent physical condition, have no significant knee problems and do not have a fear of heights or exposure issues. The trek is done without vehicle support over steep, often rugged terrain at elevations between 8,000 – 10,000 feet. Participants will be carrying what they need in their backpacks for the duration of the trek – 5 days. Each day will see substantial altitude gains and losses in remote and mountainous areas. Participants need to be prepared to hike up to 9+ hours per day. There are no shorter options for any of the days (other than skipping a day and arranging transportation to the next lodging when possible) and you must be able to complete the hiking days in recommended times. If you have any question about your physical condition, please contact the office.Rating: 1 2 3 4 [5]

This trip combines hiking in a spectacular alpine area with immersion in the world of high mountain hiking and mountaineering - offering epic alpine scenery — glaciers, mountains, rivers, lakes, meadows and wildlife. In addition to the sheer beauty of the trip, the TMB is also a living history lesson - along the way you’ll see churches still intact from the 18th century and walk the same paths that Roman soldiers used 2,000 years ago. And finally (and maybe the best part), experiencing the culture of the high mountains and the welcoming community of both France and Italy.

We will spend 5 nights in 3- and 4-star small tourist class hotels that offer double rooms with private baths, 1 night in a small hotel in bunk/shared rooms with shared baths, and 1 night in a traditional high mountain hut with common shower, baths, and bunk rooms. Regarding dietary issues/allergies: Please note that due to the ‘community’ aspect of meals in the smaller hotels, most dietary issues cannot be accommodated. Vegetarian is easily accommodated; all other dietary issues will need to be discussed with the office and bringing supplemental food along may be required.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
We will meet in the lobby of our lodging in Chamonix for a Welcome and Introductions before enjoying our first dinner together. While some of us may prefer an early evening to get to bed early, undoubtedly some of us may prefer to wander the streets of this wonderful mountain village. Overnight Chamonix at Croix Blanche or similar. (D)
DAY 2
We'll probably be feeling a bit of jet lag today and the best cure for that is a hike in this beautiful valley! Before heading to our first ‘lift’ we’ll head to either the grocery or the bakery so everyone can choose their lunch for the day. You’ll be impressed with your choices from cheese and French bread to quiches and French sandwiches. And – of course dessert – after all you are hiking! After choosing lunch, we’ll take the Brevant Lift just on the edge of town to the first station, Plan Praz. At the Plan Praz, the hike leads us up then hiking up and over the ridge line. From here, we follow the contour of the mountain side with wide ranging views to the north, before joining a brief section of the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) and descending into a valley. Our path then starts to climb again, including a short ascent on a fixed ladder, before reaching the top station of the cable car to Le Brevent. Our efforts are rewarded with panoramic views (and refreshments!) and we'll take a break before taking the cable cars down. The afternoon is free for you to explore the town or begin your preparations for the trek. Dinner is on your own tonight, but your guides will have lots of recommendations if needed. Hiking: 5 - 6 hours. Elevation gain: 1914 feet. (B)
DAY 3
There is so much hiking to do right in the Chamonix Valley that we'll spend one more day before we leave for our trek. This time it’s an all-day excursion to the Mer de Glace, the largest of Mont Blanc's glaciers! A perfect second day excursion and hike. We start again with a visit a local bakery (or grocery) our picnic lunch before taking the historic cog railway ride to Montevers. There we'll visit an ice grotto carved into the glacier and view this magnificent glacier up close. After time to take in this amazing landscape, we hike up from the glacier to tree line where the entire valley opens before us. While enjoying our picnic lunch, we'll gaze out over the spectacular Mer de Glace on one side and the entire Chamonix Valley on the other. We then continue our 'balcony' hike to the lower platform of the Auguille Lift where we take the lift to the Aiguille du Midi and view Mount Blanc in all her glory! We will take the lift down to Chamonix and have the rest of the afternoon free to explore this charming town. Hiking: 5 - 7 hours. Elevation gain: 1432 feet. Overnight Chamonix (B, D)
DAY 4
We begin our Tour du Mont Blanc trek today with a short bus ride to Les Houches and then a cable car to the top of Bellevue. This is where we begin our trek on the famous Tour du Mont Blanc trail. After crossing over a picturesque railroad crossing, we enter the forested side of Bellevue. Hiking along the trail we come to a gate - one of many we will encounter on this trek - just don't forget to close it! Shortly we will be at the bottom of the mountain and here our true alpine hiking begins as we pass the terminus of the huge Glacier. We continue up through alpine meadows to the Col de Tricot (6,995 feet) where we are rewarded with views of the Dome du Gouter and the entire Chamonix Valley. A steep descent brings us to the village of Miages and Truc where lunch awaits us under the inviting umbrella of the rifugio. After lunch we climb out of the valley of Miage and ascend another 'hill', heading to the village of Les Contamines, our destination for the night. Hiking: 6 – 8 hours. Elevation gain: 5,000 feet (cumulative). Overnight Les Contamines, Hotel Gai Soliel or similar (B, D)
DAY 5
From our hotel in the village of Les Contamines we will start the morning with a short shuttle to the Notre Dame de la Gorge, a famous 15th century mountain church that is worth a stop. Our trail today is up the broad Mont Joie Valley with a total elevation gain of over 4,000 feet. Initially our route climbs steeply alongside the Bon Nant River, on a path believed to be 2,000 years old, part of a link from Gaul to the Roman empire called the ‘Old Roman Road’. Crossing a small ancient Roman bridge, we continue upward, approaching the top of the ridge where we will take a welcome lunch break amid the high mountains, sheep, and local cows. From here we continue climbing until finally reaching the Col du Bonhomme for yet another spectacular view of the valleys below. We'll then continue along a ridge to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme, our highpoint of the day. From here the path starts descending steeply and we ford several streams on our way to the charming little hamlet of Les Chapieux and the hospitable Auberge-Refuge de la Nova and a fabulous dinner! About 8 hours walking. Hiking: 7 – 9 hours. Elevation gain: 4,000 + feet. Overnight De La Nova, Les Chapieux. (B,L,D)
DAY 6
Today we continue this amazing trail. We will gain over 3,000 feet as we climb from Les Chapieux to the Col de la Seigne where we cross from France into Italy. From the hotel De La Nova we get a short shuttle to 'the end of the road' and begin our hike at the bottom of Col de la Seigne. The climb is along a switchback trail where often enterprising locals offer donkey transports for backpacks up the top of the ridge! Arriving at the Col at 2,516 meters (8,255 feet) the view ahead is amazing. This is the Franco-Italian border, and we have our first view of the Italian side of Mont Blanc, including the entire Val Veny. On our left will the Mont Blanc massif. This side of the mountain is more angular, rockier, and the snowy peak is easily visable in the distance. Descending from the col we head toward our accommodation for the night. Our rifugio is a typical 'high mountain' hut and we will arrive in time to enjoy the atmosphere and explore around the Rifugio before enjoying their wonderful dinner. Hiking: 7 - 9 hours. Elevation gain: 3,000 + feet. Overnight Maison Vielle or Cabane du Combal or similar (B,L,D)
DAY 7
Today we're 'going to town'! The Italian side of Mont Blanc with its many glaciers and craggy peaks continues to be a constant and gorgeous presence. We will continue our trek from our Refugio head toward Courmayeur! Our final stretch to Courmayeur, we will take a cable car ride down and walk into town. Courmayeur is a typical Italian mountaineering resort that offers interesting shops, winding streets, and lots of local flavor. Our hotel for the night is in Courmayeur so spending a bit of time getting to know this quaint little city is a possibility as we will go out for dinner tonight. Overnight: Courmayeur, Edelweiss Hotel or similar. Hiking: 5 -6 hours. Elevation gain: 1500 feet (B, D)
DAY 8
We’ll begin today with a bit of free time -- a little extra sleep and a chance to explore Courmayeur! Picking up lunch at a local bakery before meeting late morning, we’ll continue our journey. If the weather is co-operative, we’ll leave Courmayeur and head up the hill by public bus to the base of the cable car system that travels up the Italian side of Mont Blanc and then continues up and across the mountain back to Chamonix. The lift system (which is actually a series of cable cars and gondolas) takes you into the heart of the Mont Blanc massif. As we ride up and then eventually across the lower flank of Mont Blanc, we can watch those below heading to some of the more famous mountaineering destinations, crossing the massif by foot, view the Mer de Glace from the Italian side, and continue to marvel at this amazing mountain. If using the lift system is not possible, we will take public transportation back to Chamonix and go thru the tunnel that’s completely through the bottom of Mount Blanc! No bad alternatives! Arriving in Chamonix we will check into our hotel and the rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy Chamonix, pick up a few souvenirs or just enjoy our accomplishment for a few hours before meeting for our last dinner together. Hours hiking will vary depending on mode of transportation from Courmayeur back to Chamonix. Overnight Chamonix at Croix Blanche or similar. (B, D)
DAY 9
The trip officially ends this morning. After breakfast (or earlier if you have a plane to catch) we say adieu to Chamonix and take one last look at the beautiful Mont Blanc Massif. You can continue on to other explorations or, if you must, take the train or a shuttle to the Geneva airport to begin your journey home or to the next adventure. (B)

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