Tour du Mont Blanc Classic

Trip Length 13 Days
Group Size 4-14
Difficulty
3-4

Starting from

$5,899

for REI Members

$6,499 for non-members

Departures

Jun 2020-Sep 2020

Three Alpine countries, countless mountain scenes and spectacular adventure make this an incredible 13-day journey around the highest peak in Western Europe.

After settling in delightful Chamonix, we begin our journey on a trail beneath the Aiguilles Rouges, a crystalline mountain massif opposite the Mont Blanc range. The course of our adventure will take us nearly 100 miles equipped with only a light pack. We navigate around the sparkling glaciers, crossing borders by foot and traversing upon village after village to take in each picture-perfect landscape. Along the way, explore the charm and cuisine of French, Swiss and Italian cultures.

About halfway through our journey, we hike right from our hotel to La Montagne de la Saxe, where magnificent views of the Grandes Jorasses and the Italian side of Mont Blanc can be seen soaring high into the horizon. Enjoy the dramatic landscape with a warm drink as the sun dips low in the sky. Cap each night off with a hearty meal, good conversation and a restful hotel stay nestled among the legendary mountain scenery.

Tight on time? Consider our new Tour du Mont Blanc Express trip. Experience many of the same great hikes and locations on our 8-day version of this European classic!

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Trip highlights

  • 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 a local guide; stay at comfortable lodging

Activities

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 capable of hiking 5-7 hours a day (8-11 miles) on trails with steep ascents and descents. Trails are often rocky and daily elevation gains and losses can range from 2,000 - 4,000 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!

  • Hiking

What's Included

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 guide; group airport transfers.

Accommodations

Hotels, 6 nights; Auberges, 5 nights; Mountain hut, 1 night

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Explore delightful Chamonix, nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc.

Arrive at the Geneva, Switzerland airport by 11:00 a.m. to rendezvous with the trip leader at 12:00 p.m. and transfer to our first night's hotel in Chamonix. There is 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. Dinner included.

Driving time: 1.5 hours.

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: 8 miles; Elevation gain: 2,729'; Elevation loss: 2,729'. Terrain: Steep uphill sections on hard-packed dirt and rocky trails with some short sections of exposure.

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.

Driving time: 15 minutes; Hiking: 7 miles; Elevation gain: 1,906', Elevation loss: 4,104'. Terrain: Hard-packed dirt and rocky trails with some exposure; steep downhill section.

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'). We overnight in an auberge in Les Chapieux or a small hotel in Bourg-Saint-Maurice. All meals included.

Hiking: 11 miles; Elevation gain: 4,163', Elevation loss: 3,050'. Terrain: Gradual uphill climb with some steep, rocky, and exposed sections; steep downhill section.

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.

Driving time: 30 minutes; Hiking: 10 miles. Elevation gain: 2,380', Elevation loss: 2,811'. Terrain: Long uphill climb on hard-packed dirt and rocky trails followed by a gradual descent.

Day 6

A balcony trail leads us to the Rifugio Bonatti with magnificent views.

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. All meals included.

Hiking: 7 miles; Elevation gain: 3,218’; Elevation loss: 577’. Terrain: Steep uphill climb followed by moderate hillside traverse; dirt and rocky trails. 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 our evening's auberge in the quiet but scenic village of La Fouly (5280'). All meals included.

Hiking: 10.5 miles. Elevation gain: 2,746', Elevation loss: 4,167'. Terrain: Hillside traverse followed by steep descents and ascents on dirt trails; some short sections of exposure.

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: 8.5 miles; Elevation gain: 1,414'; Elevation loss: 1,765'. Terrain: Wide pasture roads; one steep section.

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: 8 miles. Elevation gain: 2,477', Elevation loss: 2,346. Terrain: Flat section on dirt road followed by steep and rocky trails.

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: 5 miles; elevation gain: 2,900'; elevation loss: 2,350'. Terrain: Steep trails with some rocky sections; short sections of exposure.

Day 11

Close our loop on the Grand Balcon, hiking to Lac des Chéserys.

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. We continue our descent to Les Praz where we meet with our driver and return to Chamonix. Dinner on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking: 8 miles; elevation gain: 2,470', elevation loss: 3,800'. Terrain: Steep trails with some rocky sections.

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. Montenvers (6299'), the upper station, boasts an imposing panorama of the Mer de Glace, the Aiguille Drus and the Grand Jorasses. From Montenvers, we traverse on the Northern Grand Balcon to the Plan de l'Aiguille (7518'). On this high path we have lovely views over the Chamonix Valley. 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, or up to the Aiguille du Midi (optional; cost not included). From the top of the Aiguille du Midi (~12,680') there are spectacular views over the entire Mont Blanc range. On a clear day it is possible to see the Matterhorn, Monta Rosa and the Grand Combin. We gather together in the evening to enjoy a farewell dinner and raise a toast to an excellent adventure. All meals included.

Hiking: 4.5 miles. Elevation gain: 1,719, Elevation loss: 417'. Terrain: Steep trails and a hillside traverse with some rocky sections.

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.

Driving time: 1.5 hours

Tour du Mont Blanc Classic Departures 2020

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.

What to pack

Packed by you (Required)

Recommended

You might also consider

Travel Documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (1-800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice, which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Meet your guides

Danièle C.

Born in Chamonix and fluent in English, Danièle loves sharing her passion for the Alps with her guests. She is a certified mountain guide, has a master's degree in alpine geography, and is certified to teach mountain biking and cross-country skiing.

Meet your guides

Susanna D.

A Danish national raised in England and now living in Chamonix, Susanna has been professionally skiing, hiking, climbing and cycling in the French Alps since 2001. Susanna loves sharing her passion for nature with people from all walks of life.

Adventure Expert

Janel

The beauty of Mont Blanc and the surrounding Alps makes each day's hike better than the next. Meet people on the trail from all over the world. Enjoy the culture, cuisine, towns and unique scenery of France, Italy and Switzerland.

Tom from Houston

Best Trek Ever!


This is an outstanding trek - one of the best I have been on. Everything was as advertised and well planned by REI and our outstanding guide. Based on duration, distances and elevation change the hike is challenging b...

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