- Hike one of the world's classic treks, the Tour du Mont Blanc
- Take in phenomenal mountain views from France, Italy, and Switzerland
- Taste regional cuisine and enjoy distinct cultures in the villages of the Alps
- Carry only a light pack and follow local guides; stay at comfortable lodging
What makes the Tour du Mont Blanc one of the world's classic hikes? Perhaps it's the perfect set of awe-inspiring mountain views, or maybe the vibrant influence of French, Swiss, and Italian cultures – or it could be the delicious and varied regional cuisine. Whichever reason, the beauty and wonder found along the trail are sure to delight.
Hiking nearly 100 miles with only a light pack, we circumnavigate the sparkling glaciers of Mont Blanc (15,771'), Western Europe's highest peak. Cross borders by foot and experience challenging, but spectacular, hiking in the Alps. Our expert guides lead us from village to village along high trails into picture-perfect landscape.
Along the way, we experience delightful culture at the lovely medieval city of Courmayeur, Italy, the French resort town of Chamonix, and the quaint alpine villages of Switzerland. At each stop, we enjoy delicious and hearty meals made from fresh ingredients including locally produced breads and cheeses. Our lodging includes one night in a mountain refuge and the rest in comfortable hotels and auberges.
- Day 1 - Explore delightful Chamonix, nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc.
- Day 2 - Hike on the Grand Balcon with views of the Mont Blanc massif.
- Day 3 - Hike below the tumbling Bionnassay Glacier to Les Contamines.
- Day 4 - Hike an old Roman road to Col du Bonhomme. Descend to Les Chapieux.
- Day 5 - Hike into Italy under the dramatic south face of Mont Blanc.
- Day 6 - A balcony trail leads us to the Rifugio Bonatti with magnificent views.
- Day 7 - Views of the Val Veny are our backdrop en route to Grand Col Ferret.
- Day 8 - Walk through quaint Swiss villages to Champex, set on pretty blue lake.
- Day 9 - Hike along the "Bovine Route" that herders once used to guide stock.
- Day 10 - Hike to the French border. See breathtaking views of the Chamonix Valley.
- Day 11 - Close our loop on the Grand Balcon, hiking to Lac des Chérsey.
- Day 12 - Ride a historic train and hike near the Mer de Glace.
- Day 13 - Say farewell to the Alps and return to Geneva.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Explore delightful Chamonix, nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc.
Our trip begins today in Geneva, Switzerland. Arrive in Geneva by noon to rendezvous with our trip leader and transfer (approx. 90 minutes) to the first night's hotel in Chamonix. We have some time this afternoon to settle in, relax and explore delightful Chamonix, a world-famous resort town nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc and the site of the first Winter Olympics held in 1924. Tonight we share a welcome dinner and get acquainted with our traveling companions and guides. Group transfer from Geneva and dinner included.
Day 2 - Hike on the Grand Balcon with views of the Mont Blanc massif.
Today we begin our spectacular journey on a trail beneath the Aiguilles Rouges (Red Peaks), a crystalline mountain massif opposite the Mont Blanc range. We hike to La Flégère (6150') where we come to an amazing high path known as the Grand Balcon. Along this trail we enjoy magnificent views of the rocky spires and glaciers draping the Mont Blanc massif across the valley before descending back to Chamonix. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 7 miles; Elevation gain: 2,770 ft. Elevation loss: 2,770 ft.
Please note that hiking distances and elevation gain/loss are estimates for all days.
Day 3 - Hike below the tumbling Bionnassay Glacier to Les Contamines.
The day begins with a cable car ascent from Les Houches to Bellevue where we start our hike beneath the tumbling Bionnassay Glacier to the Col du Tricot (6955'). Along the way we'll watch for bounding chamois, a goat-like antelope, on the hillsides. After a steep descent to Chalets de Miage we stop for lunch amongst picturesque alpine meadows. From here we continue up to Chalet du Truc (5642') and then on to Les Contamines (3828'), a charming town proud of its gastronomical heritage. We stay in a local auberge tonight. All meals included.
Hiking: 8 miles; Elevation gain: 2,367 ft., Elevation loss: 3,127 ft.
Day 4 - Hike an old Roman road to Col du Bonhomme. Descend to Les Chapieux.
This morning we follow in the footsteps of the ancients as we hike on an old Roman road, making our way steadily uphill and passing a very early chapel with Renaissance frescoes on its interior. We'll be reminded of why this area is such a magnet for hikers and climbers as we follow varied terrain through forests, gentle glens and the treeless gorge of the Nant Borrant on our way to Col du Bonhomme (7640'), our lunch spot. In the afternoon we descend a relatively steep grassy trail leading to the remote hamlet of Les Chapieux (3785') and our evening's auberge. All meals included.
Hiking: 11 miles; Elevation gain: 4,318 ft., Elevation loss: 3,048 ft.
Day 5 - Hike into Italy under the dramatic south face of Mont Blanc.
Our path today leads us out of France and into Italy (from "bonjour" to "buon giorno!"). We initially transfer from Les Chapieux to the trailhead at the Vallée des Glaciers, climb east over the Col de la Seigne (8252') and finally descend into Italy to reflective Lac Combal. If the weather cooperates the views along our route will take your breath away! The dramatic southern face of the Mont Blanc range is fully exposed above us as we hike down to La Visaille from where we transfer to the lovely Italian resort town of Courmayeur (4014'). You'll have time to enjoy the town with a dinner on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 8 miles. Elevation gain: 2,400 ft., Elevation loss: 2,740 ft.
Day 6 - A balcony trail leads us to the Rifugio Bonatti with magnificent views.
This day promises to be a highlight of the TMB! Today we start hiking right from our hotel and on to La Montagne de la Saxe (6970'). The ascent rewards us with magnificent views of the Grandes Jorasses, Brenva Glacier and the Italian side of Mont Blanc soaring into the air. A balcony trail leads us to the Rifugio Bonatti (6745'), named after the famous Italian alpinist and adventurer Walter Bonatti. This is one of the best-kept huts in the Alps, and the walls inside are decorated with pictures showcasing Walter Bonatti's impressive life story. The dramatic scenery is best appreciated while enjoying a drink in the sunset light. The hot chocolate here is decadent! For those who want to relax and enjoy Courmayeur, it is possible to join the group at the hut in the afternoon (~ 1 hour hike). Overnight at the hut. Note: There is no vehicle access to this hut. You must carry what you need for one night in your daypack. All meals included.
Hiking: 8 miles; Elevation gain: 3,000’; Elevation loss: 600’. Optional mileage: Weather and group dependent, we may offer a longer route to Rifugio Bonatti: 12 miles; Elevation gain 3,600’; Elevation loss 1,500’. Note: There is no vehicle access to Rifugio Bonatti. You must carry what you need for one night in your daypack.
Day 7 - Views of the Val Veny are our backdrop en route to Grand Col Ferret.
We will experience hiking at its finest with alpine meadows, rushing streams and stunning views of the Val Veny as a backdrop en route to the Grand Col Ferret (8320'), the border between Italy and Switzerland. Mont Dolent towers above and its summit is the meeting point of the borders with France, Italy, and Switzerland. You'll continue to be amazed by fabulous close-up views of rocky spires and sparkling glaciers. Our grassy path ultimately leads us to the quiet but scenic village of La Fouly (5280') where our auberge's large patio is a perfect spot for relaxing. All meals included.
Hiking: 10 miles. Elevation gain: 2,520 ft., Elevation loss: 3,830 ft.
Day 8 - Walk through quaint Swiss villages to Champex, set on pretty blue lake.
Today is a day for soaking up the pure pleasures of being in the truly great outdoors as we proceed at a leisurely pace, trekking through forests, fields of wildflowers and quaint Swiss villages. After lunch our hiking gets steeper as we climb through woodlands to the lovely alpine town of Champex (4808'), offering a perfect resting spot for the night - a small resort beside a pretty blue lake with several restaurant choices for dinner on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 9 miles; Elevation gain: 1,378 ft., Elevation loss: 1,854 ft.
Day 9 - Hike along the "Bovine Route" that herders once used to guide stock.
We continue to enjoy this picturesque area beginning with an hour and a half of easy hiking along the "Bovine Route" that herders once used to guide their stock across the mountains. You might even catch the sound of cowbells tinkling in the breeze as we walk. Continuing across the rolling terrain, we enjoy views of the rocky Dents du Midi and ascend through the forest to lookouts high over the lovely Rhone Valley and the town of Martigny. Views of the Bernese Alps are impressive before beginning an easy descent to the Col de Forclaz (3,900'). All meals included.
Hiking: 9 miles, Elevation gain: 2,434 ft., Elevation loss: 2,238 ft.
Day 10 - Hike to the French border. See breathtaking views of the Chamonix Valley.
Our path follows an old smuggler's route back into France. We hike to Col de Balme (7,186'), the border between Switzerland and France, and eat our picnic lunch while gazing down at the Swiss countryside behind us and the Chamonix Valley ahead. The views to Mont Blanc are absolutely phenomenal! We descend to our hotel in Argentière, just north of Chamonix. All meals included.
Hiking: 8.5 miles; Elevation gain: 3,507'; Elevation loss: 3,225'.
Day 11 - Close our loop on the Grand Balcon, hiking to Lac des Chérsey.
We take a short drive to the Col des Montets where we begin our hike along the Grand Balcon to the spectacularly situated Lac des Cheserys with the many glaciers and peaks of the entire range in view. We finally close the loop of our tour at La Flégère (6150') where our unforgettable journey began 10 days ago. The cable car at La Flégère carries us down into the valley over alpine pastures to Les Praz where we meet with our driver and return to Chamonix. Dinner on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 5 miles. Elevation gain: 2,460 ft., Elevation loss: 1,103 ft.
Day 12 - Ride a historic train and hike near the Mer de Glace.
This morning we take a historic 100-year-old cog-wheel train up to the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), one of the largest glaciers in the Alps. Early in the day Montenvers (6276'), the upper station, is still quiet and boasts an imposing panorama of the Mer de Glace, the Aiguille Drus and the Grand Jorasses. A short ascent to Signal Forbes (7217') grants us even better vistas. From Montenvers, we traverse on the Northern Grand Balcon to the Plan de l'Aiguille (7518'), mid-station of the cable car to Aiguille du Midi. On this high path we have lovely views over the Chamonix Valley and to the Aiguilles Rouges. After lunch the afternoon is free for you to explore on your own. You may ride a cable car back down to Chamonix for sightseeing and shopping, or up to the breathtaking site of Aiguille du Midi (optional; cost not included). From the top of the Aiguille du Midi (~12,600') there are spectacular views over the entire Mont Blanc range and of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps. On a clear day it is possible to see the Matterhorn, Monta Rosa and the Grand Combin in Switzerland. We gather together again in the evening to raise a toast to an excellent adventure and enjoy a farewell dinner in Chamonix. All meals included.
Hiking: 3-4 miles. Elevation gain: 1,720 ft.
Day 13 - Say farewell to the Alps and return to Geneva.
After breakfast, we transfer back to Geneva and connect with homeward-bound flights, ending our exciting walk around Mont Blanc. You are welcome to schedule your homeward flight or train for any time after 11 a.m. Breakfast included.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including weather and terrain conditions. The final route is always left up to the discretion of the trip leader in the field.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
All lodging including hotels (double occupancy), auberges (double occupancy) and one night in a mountain refuge (co-ed dormitory style); meals as noted in the daily itinerary; all land transportation and luggage transfer; cable car rides as noted; skilled English-speaking guides; group airport transfers.
Airfare to Geneva; 1 lunch and 4 dinners; Aiguille du Midi cable car; excess baggage charges, airport taxes (if any); trip cancellation insurance; alcoholic beverages; laundry; optional gratuities to your guides and items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated as Moderate Plus [3-4] and consists of a combination of moderate and more vigorous hiking days. Trip members should be strong, experienced hikers in excellent physical condition and capable of hiking 5-7 hours a day (8-14 miles) on trails with steep ascents and descents. Trails are often rocky and daily elevation gains and losses can exceed 3,000 feet. We hike about 100 miles during the course of the adventure, much of which falls between 6,000-9,000' of elevation. We strongly recommend beginning a conditioning regimen at least 3-4 months prior to departure that includes hiking and/or walking/running in order to best prepare for the cardiovascular component of this trip. The better shape you're in when you arrive in Chamonix, the more you will enjoy all this amazing itinerary has to offer!
Summer daytime temperatures along our route range from 60 to 75°F. Evening temperatures generally drop into the 50s. As we are in the Alps, participants must be prepared for variable weather conditions that can change suddenly and include hot, sunny days, prolonged rainfall and even an occasional dusting of snow.
No single rooms are available for request on this adventure. All group members are paired with a roommate of the same gender when possible. There is a maximum of two forced singles per departure.
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Tour du Mont Blanc Video
Tour du Mont Blanc Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- One piece of luggage
- Small duffel bag, to store extra gear and clothing at the Chamonix hotel (optional)
- Daypack, large enough to carry your camera, water bottles, lunch, extra clothing and overnight items you will need on Day 6
- Rain cover for daypack, waterproof
- Luggage tags and luggage locks
- Passport pouch or money belt
- Bring a few casual, lightweight, easily washable items for travel and city wear
- Rain jacket, waterproof and breathable
- Rain or wind pants, waterproof and breathable
- Midweight fleece or wool sweater
- Down or fleece vest
- Light fleece pants or tights
- Lightweight thermal underwear top and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants, lightweight and synthetic, zip-off legs work great!
- Hiking shorts, lightweight and synthetic
- Long-sleeve shirts (quick-drying, synthetic)
- T-shirts (at least 2 quick-drying, synthetic)
- Hiking socks
- Liner socks
- Casual socks
- Swimsuit (for use at some hotels)
- Sun hat
- Wool or fleece hat
- Lightweight gloves
- Warm gloves (for early June and late-August departures)
- Hiking boots, waterproof, broken-in, aggressive tread
- Comfortable shoes for evenings and travel
- Travel towel (see "Things to Consider")
- Sleep sheet and pillowcase (see "Things to Consider")
- Two 1-quart water bottles or hydration system
- Trekking poles (highly recommended)
- Gaiters, short (all departures) or knee high (June and early July departures)
- Headlamp, spare batteries and bulb
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock and lip balm with high SPF
- Toiletry kit
- Personal first-aid kit
- Toilet kit ditty bag containing: 1 roll toilet tissue, Ziploc bags, hand sanitizer or Wet Ones
- Camera, memory cards and spare batteries
- Battery charger, converter, plug adapter
- Small binoculars
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Knee supports
- Insect repellent
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Reading and writing materials
- Ear plugs
- Shower thongs/sandals
Things to Consider
- Always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, medications, hiking boots and a change of clothing in your carry-on baggage in case your luggage is delayed.
- There is no vehicle access our accommodations on Day 6. Each guest will carry their daily necessities, as well as their overnight items in their daypack on Day 6. The mountain hut provides beds, blankets, sleep sheets and pillowcases. If you wish to bring and use your own sleep sheet, it can be purchased at your nearest REI store or online at www.rei.com.
- Auberges and refuges do not have elevators. Please be prepared to carry your luggage between your room and the reception area.
- We recommend the REI MultiTowel (available in various sizes) or similar as a quick-dry towel for this trip. See www.rei.com for details.
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene, MTS and Thermax.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin or blister remedies for foot treatment. Thin liner socks made of silk or synthetic fibers worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. Test your sock combination before you go on the trip.
- Bring a small ditty bag that includes a Ziploc bag with toilet tissue, spare Ziploc bags to dispose of soiled tissue, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes. Women should include any necessary feminine hygiene products. Your ditty bag will be carried in your daypack every day of the trip.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.