Category: Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc | Maps & Routes

The Tour du Mont Blanc takes trekkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland on one of the most spectacular trails in the world. Typically completed in 11 stages, the route circumnavigates…

The Tour du Mont Blanc takes trekkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland on one of the most spectacular trails in the world. Typically completed in 11 stages, the route circumnavigates Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe. This post will provide all of the TMB navigational resources you need to familiarize yourself with the route, location, and all things map-related so you can be sure you’re ready to tackle this epic adventure!

What’s in this post?

Where is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The Tour du Mont Blanc is an approximately 101 mile/162 km trek that takes walkers around Mont Blanc and through France, Italy, and Switzerland. The closest major city to the TMB is Geneva, Switzerland. The route passes through seven mountain valleys (Val d’Arve, Val d’Montjoie, Vallee des Glaciers, Val Veni, Italian Val Ferret, Swiss Val Ferret, and Vallee du Trient) and is typically completed in 11 stages.

Looking for more TMB resources? Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc here.

Map showing the location of the Tour du Mont Blanc
The Tour du Mont Blanc takes walkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland.

The TMB is traditionally hiked in a counter-clockwise direction beginning in the French town of Les Houches, adjacent to Chamonix. It is also possible to walk the route in a clockwise direction, and trekkers headed this way typically start in the Swiss town of Champex. The TMB also passes through the French towns of Les Contamines, Les Chapieux, and Tre-le-Champ, the Italian town of Courmayeur, and the Swiss towns of La Fouly and Champex. The stages for the traditional counter-clockwise route are as follows:

  • Stage 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines
  • Stage 2: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux
  • Stage 3: Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta
  • Stage 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur
  • Stage 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
  • Stage 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly
  • Stage 7: La Fouly to Champex
  • Stage 8: Champex to Col de la Forclaz
  • Stage 9: Col de la Forclaz to Tre-le-Champ
  • Stage 10: Tre-le-Champ to Refuge La Flegere
  • Stage 11: Refuge La Flegere to Les Houches

Did you know we offer TMB trip planning support? Check out how we can help you below!

LEARN MORE

 

While for many the mere mention of Mont Blanc conjures up images of the famous French mountaineering town of Chamonix, the route of the TMB does not actually go through the town, instead taking a trail high above the Chamonix Valley.

Tour du Mont Blanc map
The Tour du Mont Blanc leads trekkers around the Mont Blanc Massif.

In addition to the traditional route, the Tour du Mont Blanc also includes several ‘alternates’. These trails still connect the same start and finish points, but take walkers on a different route between the two points. Alternates can be used to add challenge, avoid certain sections, or lengthen/shorten a particular stage. The map below shows the common alternate routes on the TMB.

Tour du Mont Blanc Map with alternate routes shown.
The Tour du Mont Blanc also includes many alternate routes, shown in the map above.

Interactive Tour du Mont Blanc Map

The interactive Tour du Mont Blanc map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route. The map also displays the common alternate routes that are a part of the TMB. You can click on each stage to see the total length, listed in both kilometers and miles.

 

How long is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The Tour du Mont Blanc is approximately 101 miles or 162.5 kilometers long. This is based on following the traditional route and not taking any shortcuts or alternates. Of course, few if any walkers will stick to this route exactly. You could easily walk less or more depending on your preferences, route choices, and the conditions encountered on the trail.

The maps below show the approximate distance of each stage in miles as well as kilometers. For more detail on each stage be sure to check out our interactive map in the section above!

Map of the Tour du Mont Blanc with stage distances in miles.
Approximate stage distances of the TMB in miles.
Map of the Tour du Mont Blanc with stage length in kilometers
Approximate stage distances of the TMB in kilometers.

What is the elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Over all 11 stages, the Tour du Mont Blanc has approximately 37,000 feet or 11,300 meters of elevation change! That averages out to over 3,300 feet or 1,000 meters of elevation change per stage for those who complete the walk in 11 days. Of course, there will be days with more elevation gain and days with less. Given that the TMB is a loop trail, you’ll ascend and descend the exact same amount over the course of your trek.

Looking for a custom itinerary for the TMB? We can help!

LEARN MORE

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the Tour du Mont Blanc is like in terms of total elevation change and distance. On the charts elevation is shown on the left hand side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 11 stage TMB route, with the stop name shown at the top.

The steepness of the line between any two points shows the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the the stage. So for instance you can see that the stage from Tre-le-Champ to La Flegere is rather short in distance, while the stage from Les Contamines to Les Chapieux has a lot of elevation gain.

Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc in feet and miles
Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc in feet and miles.
Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc in meters and kilometers
Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc in meters and kilometers.

 

Which maps should I carry on the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The TMB is a very well marked trail with frequent signs and trail markers. As a result, when we hiked the TMB we did not rely heavily on any of the various paper maps that are available for the route. Instead, we preferred to utilize GPS maps on our phones, as described in the next section. However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t bring paper maps with us. While technology has done a tremendous amount to make navigating while hiking easier, there is simply no replacement for carrying a physical map with you. If your phone runs out of battery or you drop it in a puddle you’ll be glad you had your handy paper maps to rely on.

We recommend bringing the IGN 3630 OT Chamonix and IGN 3531 ET St-Gervais with you, as they provide a detailed view of the TMB route. A weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Want custom GPS maps for your TMB adventure? Learn more here!

LEARN MORE

 

Tour du Mont Blanc GPS/GPX

If you’re interested in getting access to the GPS data used to create all of the maps in this post, we are happy to offer our Tour du Mont Blanc GPX files for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each of the traditional stages of the TMB as well as all of the common alternate route, plus waypoints for each stop along the way.

If you want to learn how to use the GPS data to navigate on the trail, be sure to check out our post on How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

Tour du Mont Blanc map app/offline mapping

As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while hiking the TMB. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also isn’t reliant on a cell phone signal to display the map. Our How to Navigate on the TMB post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your Tour du Mont Blanc map. This step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device.

Want more Tour du Mont Blanc content?

Be sure to check out all of our great TMB content for packing lists, camping guides, and much more. We also have a FREE TMB Starter Kit and a comprehensive Tour du Mont Blanc Planning Guide that we know you’ll love!

2 Comments on Tour du Mont Blanc | Maps & Routes

Tour du Mont Blanc Accommodation and Refuge Guide

The Tour du Mont Blanc is arguably the greatest trek in the world. Despite the fact that you’ll experience pristine wilderness and remote surroundings by day, you can still enjoy…

The Tour du Mont Blanc is arguably the greatest trek in the world. Despite the fact that you’ll experience pristine wilderness and remote surroundings by day, you can still enjoy plenty of creature comforts each night. Trekking over jawdropping mountain passes and eating fine charcuterie in the same day? It might just be the best hike ever!

If you want to make the most of your self-guided Tour du Mont experience, it is essential to do a little advance planning when it comes to accommodation. Many places book up early in the season, and some options are much better than others.

In this guide, we’ll cover the need-to-know information on TMB refuges and other accommodations. We’ve also included an excellent directory of the best accommodation and refuges for every style, budget, and itinerary.

In This Post

A road leads towards Refuge des Mottets on the TMB
Refuge des Mottets.

Types of TMB Accommodation

There are accommodation options along the TMB to suit every budget and travel style. While not all of these options are available at every stage of the route, you can certainly customize your itinerary to fit your needs.

We’ve provided a brief explanation of each of the options below:

Hotels

Typically small and independently owned, the hotels along the TMB provide a welcome dose of luxury to weary hikers. Unless otherwise noted by the hotel, expect all of the usual amenities (hot shower, private bathroom, breakfast offered, linens and towels provided, etc). Hotels typically cost upwards of €60 per person (extra supplement for singles). For an additional fee, many hotels offer half-pension (AKA half-board or demi-pension) which includes dinner and breakfast. A few hotels along the route have dortoirs in addition to private rooms. Dortoirs are dormitories that offer a good budget option.

Gites d’Etape and Auberges

These are simple guest houses offering basic, dorm-style accommodation. Half-pension (dinner and breakfast) is typically included in the price. There are shared bathroom facilities with hot showers. Bed linens are usually provided. These are a good option for those who want to stick to a smaller budget, but don’t want to carry camping gear. Expect to pay around €50 per person for half-pension. 

Mountain Refuges

We consider a stay in a mountain refuge (aka mountain huts or rifugios) to be a highlight of any TMB trek. Set in stunning and remote locations, the ambiance at the refuges can’t be beat. Half-pension gets you a bed in a dorm (linens not provided), a delicious communal dinner, and a basic breakfast. Some refuges also offer private rooms (with shared bathrooms). Expect to pay around €45 per person for half-board in a dorm. 

Campgrounds

Although they are the cheapest accommodation option along the route, TMB campgrounds can still be quite luxurious. All provide sinks and toilets, and many offer hot showers and even WiFi! Expect to pay around €12 per person to camp. Note: you cannot camp on every stage of the TMB.

Want to know more about camping on the TMB? Check out this in-depth post!

A cozy morning at Refuge la Flegere.
A cozy morning at Refuge la Flegere.

Should I reserve my accommodation for the TMB in advance?

This is a question that creates stress and anxiety for many hikers as they are planning for their TMB adventure. The short answer is that, yes, you should try to book your accommodation as early as possible, but the longer answer is a bit more nuanced. We’ve broken it down for you here, so you can plan with more confidence and less worry.

When is your trek?

If you plan to complete your trek in peak season (July-August), it’s likely that most of the refuges and guesthouses will fill up in advance. Book 3-6 months in advance.

If you’re hiking in June or September, things will probably be sold out on the weekends, but you might be able to get away without advance reservations during the week. However, keep in mind that some refuges are closed in June and/or September.

Where do you plan on staying?

Mountain refuges are the most important to book ahead of time. Many of these huts are quite small, so they fill up quickly. Several refuges accept reservations year-round, typically allowing you to book up to 12 months in advance. Some, however, do not respond to reservation requests during the winter months (September-March, typically). You should still try to email or call the refuge to reserve your spot as soon as you know your itinerary, even if it’s prior to March. When they finally get around to responding in the springtime, they often fill requests in the order in which they received them.

Gites, auberges, and guesthouses should be your next priority when it comes to advance bookings. This is especially true in the smaller villages where accommodation options are limited, and/or if you have specific preferences for your lodging (ex; private room, linens provided, etc). In terms of when you should make your bookings, the rules are similar to refuges. As soon as you’ve made your travel plans, reach out to the gite/guesthouse (or book online). For peak summer months, it’s optimal to have these bookings made by the end of March.

For larger hotels, you have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to making reservations. You should definitely still try to do it as early as possible, but they have more rooms and are often located in places with greater availability of lodging options.

You do not need to make advance reservations for any of the campgrounds on the TMB. In fact, we recommend that you don’t. This will allow you to maximize the freedom and flexibility that camping provides, and it will make it much less complicated to check-in at the campgrounds.

I waited until the last minute…Am I doomed?

Certainly not! You can still have an amazing TMB trek, but you may need to be a bit more flexible and creative when it comes to finding places to stay. The first thing you should do is contact all of the places you would like to stay to check if they still have availability. If some key stops are sold out, it’s always possible to make some tweaks to your itinerary.

I’m more of the spontaneous type…Can I do the TMB without booking ahead?

Yes you can, and we admire your free spirit! The easiest way to hike the TMB without a set itinerary is to camp. For those who prefer to stay indoors, if you plan your trek for mid-week in June or September and you arrive at your accommodation early in the day, you will likely be just fine. If you’re hiking during peak times, get familiar with the transportation options and nearby villages so you have back-ups if your first choice of accommodation is full.

View of Chamonix on stage 1 of the TMB
The view back towards Chamonix on Stage One of the TMB.

TMB Accommodation Cost

Prices vary greatly from place to place, but generally speaking, here’s what you can expect to pay for accommodation along the Tour du Mont Blanc.

  • B&B/Guesthouse/Hotel: €65+ (per person/per night)
  • Gite d’Etape/Auberge: €50 (per person/per night w/half pension)
  • Mountain Refuge: €45 (per person/per night w/half pension)
  • Camping: €12 (per person/per night)

In our accommodation directory, we’ve provided our recommendations for high-end, mid-range, and budget options at all of the typical TMB stops. We’ve defined those categories as follows:

  • High-End: €85+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: €40-85(per person/per night)
  • Budget: <€40 (per person/per night)

Read more: How Much it Cost Us to Hike the TMB

Hikers sitting in chairs and enjoying the views outside Refuge de la Flegere
No wifi? No problem! The views and camaraderie provide more than enough entertainment along the TMB.

TMB Refuges: What You Need to Know

What to Expect

Mountain refuges on the TMB are rustic and communal at heart. Many are set in remote locations that can only be reached by foot or pack mule; some actually get supplies dropped in by helicopter!

Due to their off-the-grid nature, they are relatively basic. Luxuries like hot water and electronics charging will be limited and will likely come at an additional cost. Wifi and cell service are virtually non-existent at mountain refuges. Most refuges are cash-only, so make sure you bring enough!

While a few refuges have a small number of private rooms available, by and large you will be sleeping in a dormitory with anywhere from 4-16 beds (mostly bunk beds stacked two or three high). You’ll be provided with a mattress, pillow, and blanket, but you will need you bring or rent your own sleep sheet.

Bathrooms are also shared and typically (but not always) separated by gender.

Staying in a mountain refuge is a magical and memorable experience. There is nothing like swapping stories with fellow hikers over a shared meal and taking in the sunset in some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery. Mountain refuges truly are one of the very best parts of the TMB!

A bunkroom inside a TMB refuge
A typical bunkroom in a TMB refuge.

What’s Included

Most TMB refuges provide half-pension (AKA demi-pension or half board). This includes your bed for the night, as well as dinner and breakfast. Dinner is often a lavish, multi-course affair. They can typically cater to vegetarians (notify them in advance), although other special diets might not fare as well. Breakfast is very simple and typically consists of cold cereal, bread, jam, and tea/coffee.

Alcohol and snacks can be purchased a-la-carte, and a packed lunch can usually be ordered for the next day (additional fee).

Expect to pay extra for a shower and if you’d like to rent a sleep sheet. Some refuges ask a small fee for electronics charging.

What to Pack

Most TMB refuges require you to use a sleep sheet or sleeping bag liner. While you can rent one in some places, if you plan on staying in several refuges, it is a good idea to bring your own. Additionally, if you want to shower, you will need to bring your own towel.

In our opinion, good earplugs and an eye mask are essential for dormitory sleeping. There’s nothing more frustrating than being kept up by a loud snorer when you’re exhausted from a big day on the trail!

Boots are not allowed inside the refuges, so many provide slippers for you to wear while indoors. If you’d prefer to wear your own pair, make sure to pack them.

For a complete list of refuge-specific gear, be sure to check out our TMB Packing List.

Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges
TMB refuges may be basic, but they still have all of the essentials!

How to Book

This video will walk you through every step of the process for making reservations at TMB refuges.

Notable Exceptions:

There are still a number of accommodation providers that do not accept online bookings. For these, you’ll need to make a reservation by email or phone. We’ve included contact information for some of the most popular ones along the route:

Rifugio Elisabetta
info@rifugioelisabetta.com
+39 0165844080  

Rifugio Elena
info@rifugioelena.it
+39 328919794

Hotel de la Forclaz
colforclazhotel@bluewin.ch
+27 7222688

Refuge du Col de Balme
+33 (0)607061630

Refuge la Flegere
bellay.catherine@wanadoo.fr

Refuge Bellachat
refuge.bellachat@gmail.com
+33 (0)450534323

What to include in your booking email:

When you send an email to make a reservation request, make sure to include the following information:

  • Number of people
  • Room type (private, shared bathroom, dorm, etc)
  • Check-in and check-out dates
  • If you would like half board, full board, picnic lunch, or bed only
  • Special dietary requests, if reserving half board (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free)
TMB Accommodation Guide
When it comes to accommodation on the TMB, there’s plenty of charm to go around!

TMB Accommodation Directory

This directory is organized to follow a counterclockwise itinerary with all of the typical stops. For each place, we’ve provided our most highly recommended options, sorted by budget category. We’ve also included key details and contact information.

Our budget categories are as follows:

  • High-End: €85+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: €40-85(per person/per night)
  • Budget: <€40 (per person/per night)

The directory includes recommendations for these places:

The Chamonix train station - the official start of the Haute Route
The Chamonix train station

Be sure to check out our TMB Logistics article for helpful advice when planning your trek!

Chamonix

Note: While the TMB technically does not pass through Chamonix at any point, many hikers like to stay here before and/or after their trek, and so we included it in the directory.

High-End: Hotel le Morgane

Just minutes from shops, restaurants, and the bus terminal, Hotel le Morgane’s location is perfect for those starting or finishing the TMB. Furthermore, the rooms are spacious and well-equipped, the staff is friendly, and they have great amenities like free luggage storage and a heated pool and spa.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None, breakfast for an additional fee

Mid-Range: Chamonix Lodge

This hotel isn’t fancy, but it is an excellent value for your money. There are a variety of room types available, many with ensuite bathrooms. A good breakfast, luggage storage, and access to the communal kitchen and hot tub are all included with your stay. The hotel is located about a mile from the city center, but they loan out bikes for you to use during your stay.

Room type(s): Private twins and doubles(some ensuite), dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Le Chamoniard Volent

Le Chamoniard is the best place to find a cheap bed in pricey Chamonix. It’s not luxurious, but this well-run hostel is consistently clean and friendly to TMB walkers. Guests have access to a communal kitchen and lounge area, plenty of bathrooms and showers, and free wifi. The hostel is located a little over a mile from the city center, but it is also conveniently near a bus stop.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, and/or evening meal available for an extra fee

Les Houches

High-End: Chalet Hotel du Bois

Guests love the friendly service and incredible views at this hotel. Located just a few minutes’ walk from the start of the TMB, this is a great place to stay on either end of your trek. Treat yourself with their luxurious beds and on site sauna before you rough it on the trail!

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None, breakfast for an additional fee

Mid-Range: RockyPop Hotel

This eclectic and funky hotel is a great option in Les Houches. The hotel features unique 80’s-style decor, an excellent restaurant, and a convenient location. Rooms are basic, but they are clean and many have good views. Luggage storage and an airport shuttle are available.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite (sizes range from 1-12 adults)
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None, breakfast for an additional fee

Budget: Gite Michel Fagot

Your stay at Michel Fagot includes a fabulous dinner, incredibly helpful and friendly service, and a dorm bed with linens provided- all for a very reasonable fee. The facilities are well-kept and feature a self-catering kitchen and a cozy living room. The gite is located just steps from the bus stop and the start of the TMB.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash or check only
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner (packed lunches available for an extra fee)
Breakfast on a balcony in in Les Houches
Breakfast in Les Houches

Les Contamines

High-End: Chalet-Hotel la Chemenaz

This traditional chalet-style hotel is a welcome respite for tired hikers! It is located just a short distance from the trail and features a heated pool, jacuzzi, and sauna for soothing aching muscles. The rooms are cozy and many have great views. There is a good restaurant on the premises.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast included, half board option

Mid-Range: Hotel le Christiania

This hotel consistently gets rave reviews for its clean rooms, excellent service, and cozy decor. It is located near the TMB, as well as near shops, restaurants, and other services. The on site restaurant serves up delicious local fare, and many rooms have spectacular views.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None

Budget: Chalet des Contamines

Given that it is operated by CAF, the French Alpine Club, this chalet has the feel of a true mountain refuge while still being conveniently located in the heart of the village. The accommodation entails simple dorm beds and shared bathrooms, but the friendly hosts and delicious food make for an outstanding experience.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash or check only
Meals included: Half-board

Les Chapieux

Mid-Range: Chambres de Soleil

This guesthouse is one of two great options in the beautiful hamlet of Les Chapieux. There are a variety of room types available, most with private bathrooms. Dinner and breakfast are included with your stay, and the unique food offerings are a definite highlight.

Room type(s): Private, some ensuite
Payment: Cash or check only
Meals included: Half-board

Budget/Mid-Range: Auberge de la Nova

This cozy and welcoming auberge is the other good option in Les Chapieux. Budget-minded travelers will appreciate the dormitory option, while those seeking a bit more comfort can stay in one of the six private rooms (shared bathrooms). There is a lovely outdoor terrace, and dinner and breakfast are included with your stay. Keep in mind, like many accommodations on the TMB, Auberge de la Nova does not accept credit cards.

Room type(s): Private, dormitory
Payment: Cash or check only
Meals included: Half-board, picnic lunch can be purchased
Auberge de la Nova, Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation
Auberge de la Nova

Rifugio Elisabetta

Mid-Range: Rifugio Elisabetta

A large majority of TMB hikers stop at Rifugio Elisabetta, due to the fact that it is the only accommodation in the area for many miles (4.5 miles from the previous stop and 6 miles from the next one). Perhaps another reason why so many TMB hikers make a point to stay at Elisabetta is because it is so wonderful! This historic refuge boasts tons of quintessential Alpine charm, an absolutely stunning location, and plentiful opportunities to enjoy the company of fellow hikers. There are dorms and private rooms available. Advance bookings are essential, and only cash payments are accepted.

Room type(s): Private, Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board, picnic lunch can be purchased
Rifugio Elisabetta, Tour du Mont Blanc Accommodation
Rifugio Elisabetta

Courmayeur

High-End: Maison La Saxe

This cozy hotel offers top-notch service in a peaceful setting. It is located in the tiny town of La Saxe, which is a short walk to the center of Courmayeur. They also serve up a delicious complimentary breakfast made with all local, high-quality ingredients.  Book Suite #2 for a private roof terrace and breathtaking views of the entire valley.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite 
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel de la Telecabine

This affordable hotel is located in the town of Dolonne, just across the river from Courmayeur (hikers traveling counterclockwise will pass through Dolonne before reaching Courmayeur). The rooms are basic, but guests will appreciate the friendly service, clean facilities, and good breakfast.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite 
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Rifugio Bertone

Rifugio Bertone is a good option for hearty hikers on a tight budget. To reach the refuge, you’ll need to pass through Courmayeur and continue up a very steep section of the trail for about two more hours. Your efforts will be rewarded with great views and an atmospheric mountain experience at Rifugio Bertone-plus a head start for the day ahead!

Room type(s): Private, Dormitory 
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half board optional, picnic lunch can be purchased for an additional fee
Image of Courmayeur, Italy
Courmayeur is a classic Italian mountaineering town.

Rifugio Bonatti

Budget: Rifugio Bonatti

This is arguably one of the most memorable accommodations on the entire TMB. Its remote location boasts incredible views of Val Ferret and the jagged peaks surrounding it. The cozy interior and convivial atmosphere lend themselves to a true mountain experience.

Room type(s): Dormitory 
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board 
Rifugio Bonatti TMB accommodation
Rifugio Bonatti is one of the most magical refuges on the entire TMB.

La Fouly

High-End: Hotel Edelweiss

This smart hotel balances traditional mountain charm with fresh and modern updates, all while maintaining a high level of excellence. Enjoy the lavish breakfast spread and relax sore muscles in the sauna. There are also posh dormitories for those looking for a more upscale budget option.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite, Dormitory 
Payment: Credit card, cash 
Meals included: Half-board 

Mid-Range: Auberge des Glaciers

While some rooms are a bit outdated and cramped, this auberge offers a convenient location and great food at a very reasonable price. There are a variety of room types to suite groups of all sizes.

Room type(s): Private, some ensuite, Dormitory 
Payment: Credit card, cash 
Meals included: Breakfast 

Budget: Chalet le Dolent

Outside of camping, this is the cheapest accommodation you’ll find in La Fouly. This very rustic chalet is located on the edge of town and offers dorm beds, free wifi, and complimentary hot showers. There is a self-catering kitchen, but no meals are served on-site.

Room type(s): Dormitory 
Payment: Cash only 
Meals included: None

Read more: Tour du Mont Blanc Maps

Champex

High-End: Hotel Spendide

Hotel Spendide has a lot going for it, like the rich breakfast spread and gorgeous vintage furnishings, but all of that pales in comparison to its million-dollar views! Soak in the phenomenal Alpine vistas from the sweeping terrace or from the comfort of your own room (book a south-facing room for the best views).

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel Ptarmigan

This lovely B&B is a scenic and relaxing option for TMB walkers. There are just three rooms, two of which have balconies and lake views. All of the rooms share a bathroom. There’s a lovely terrace that makes the most of the B&B’s superb lakefront location.

Room type(s): Private, shared bathroom
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Pension en Plein Air

Champex, like most Swiss resort towns, is very expensive. Budget accommodation in Champex is very limited, and Pension en Plein Air is your best bet for cheap lodging. Don’t expect anything beyond the basics and you won’t be disappointed.

Room type(s): Private, Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-Board
Red boats on the edge of Lac Champex, Tour du Mont Blanc
Lac Champex.

Col de la Forclaz/Le Peuty/Trient

Hikers trekking in the counterclockwise direction will reach Col de la Forclaz first, and then will arrive in Le Peuty after another 40 minutes downhill. Trient is about 20 minutes from Le Peuty, just off the main TMB route.

High-End/Mid-Range: Hotel de la Forclaz

This historic hotel sits by itself on the Col de la Forclaz above Le Peuty and Trient. It is a convenient TMB stop, offering a range of private rooms, dorm beds, and camping to suit every budget. Breakfast is included with private room bookings, and it can be added on for the others. There’s also a small shop next to the hotel that sells souvenirs and snacks.

Room type(s): Private,some ensuite, Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast or Half-Board avilable (extra fee may apply)

High-End/Mid-Range: Auberge du Mont Blanc

For those wishing to stay down in the valley, the Auberge du Mont Blanc is a great value. There are private rooms and dorm beds available, and many of the rooms have lovely views. The auberge also offers a spacious sauna and cozy lounge for guests to enjoy. The bus stop is just steps away, convenient for those who may need to detour or exit the trail early.

Room type(s): Private w/shared bathrooms, Dormitory, studio apartments
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast or Half-Board avilable (extra fee may apply)

Budget: Refuge du Le Peuty

The low-maintenance types will love this rustic bunkhouse with bohemian vibes. The refuge is located directly on the TMB route and offers a good, affordable option with plenty of opportunities to get to know fellow hikers. There are shared unisex bathrooms and snacks and drinks can be purchased in the yurt lounge next door.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board
Trient's iconic pink church
Trient’s iconic pink church

Tré le Champ/Les Frasserands/Argentiere

The TMB route passes directly through the village of Tré le Champ, but the only accommodation there is Auberge la Boerne. There are a few additional places a bit further down the trail in the town of Les Frasserands. Alternatively, you can take the 25-minute detour to the larger town of Argentiere, where there are more services and options available.

High-End: Les Grands Montets

While getting to this hotel will require the extra walk or bus ride to Argentiere, many walkers will find this to be a worthwhile endeavor for the luxury they’ll enjoy in return for their efforts. Pamper yourself in the pool, jacuzzi, and spa, or take in the views while relaxing on the wonderful terrace. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up to get you through your final days on the trail, this is the hotel for you.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast available for an extra fee

Budget/Mid-Range: Auberge la Boerne

This inviting guesthouse is conveniently located along the TMB route in the tiny hamlet of Tre la Champ. While the accommodation is rather basic (dormitories and shared bathrooms), the traditional mountain charm makes it a memorable stay for many TMB walkers. There is a communal kitchenette available if you choose to self-cater.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board optional

Budget/Mid-Range: Gîte Le Moulin

If you continue a bit past Tre la Champ, you’ll reach the town of Les Frasserands, which is also quite convenient to the TMB route (albeit a short walk from the trail). This cozy gite offers simple dorm-style accommodation with a nice lounge area and good showers. The real highlight of Gite le Moulin, however, is the fantastic food. Don’t miss the fresh croissants at breakfast!

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash 
Meals included: Half-board optional

Refuge la Flégère/Refuge du Lac Blanc

While Refuge la Flégère is the traditional stop along the main TMB route, many walkers opt instead for the variant to Refuge du Lac Blanc. Both refuges are cozy and comfortable. If you’re looking for convenience and an easier hike, Flégère is your best bet. If you’re looking for spectacular scenery, it may be worth the extra climb to Refuge du Lac Blanc.

Mid-Range: Refuge la Flégère

Refuge la Flégère can be a bit off-putting at first glance, given its position next to a giant cablecar station and ski area. However, once you settle into the charming and recently-renovated building, take in the panoramic views from the terrace, and enjoy some of their delicious food, you’ll surely warm up to it. It’s important to note that potable water is not available at the refuge. You can fill up inside the cable car station during its opening hours, and you can also buy bottled water at the refuge.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board 

Mid-Range: Refuge du Lac Blanc

To reach Refuge du Lac Blanc, you’ll need to follow the signed detour from the main TMB route which leads up a very steep path to the lake. Your efforts will be richly rewarded with the stunning views across tranquil Lac Blanc to the region’s most majestic sights: Mer de Glace, the Aiguilles Vert and Charmoz, and the Grandes Jorasses. This is a basic refuge set in the remote wilderness. There’s no potable water (bottles are available for purchase or you can bring a lightweight filter like this one), no wifi, and only three outlets for the 43 beds. You’ll also need to pack out all of your trash.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board
Hikers take in the view from Refuge la Flegere, TMB accommodation
Refuge La Flegere.

Additional Resources

  • Autour du Mont Blanc: This official TMB website has tons of excellent information, including a nearly-complete accommodation listing of all of the lodgings along the route and a booking portal that can be used for many refuges and smaller guesthouses.
  • Cicerone Guide Book: This guidebook is an indispensable resource that we recommend to all TMB hikers. It has a handy accommodation index in the back, as well as practical information for all aspects of the hike. Lightweight trekkers can download an e-book version on their phone or tablet.

What’s Next?

If you’ve read our Guide above, you’re well on your way to having an incredible experience on the Tour du Mont Blanc. However, you still have lots of preparation before you’re truly ready! Be sure to read our entire series on the TMB to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip and don’t hesitate to comment with your questions below!

No Comments on Tour du Mont Blanc Accommodation and Refuge Guide

The Ultimate Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the world’s most iconic treks. Frequently referred to as the ‘TMB’ for short, the Tour du Mont Blanc circumnavigates the Mont Blanc…

The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the world’s most iconic treks. Frequently referred to as the ‘TMB’ for short, the Tour du Mont Blanc circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif and takes trekkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland over the course of 11 stages. Along the way you’ll experience stunning valleys, high-mountain passes, incredible cuisine, and some of the best hiking in the world.

This guide is designed to be the perfect planning companion for your own Tour du Mont Blanc adventure. We’ve included everything you need to know to have a spectacular trip in one place, so you can be sure you’ve thought of everything.

Read it through in a single go or jump to a specific section below, but rest assured knowing you’ve found the best resource on the internet for planning your Tour du Mont Blanc trek.

Let’s get started!

Mont Blanc as seen from the TMB

The Tour du Mont Blanc beckons to hikers with its stunning views and quaint villages.

 

In this Tour du Mont Blanc Guide

About the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a 170-km trek that circles the Mont Blanc massif. The route is traditionally walked in the anti-clockwise direction over 11-stages. The TMB starts and finishes in the French village of Les Houches, which sits adjacent to the popular mountain town of Chamonix. Along the way the trail passes through seven unique and beautiful valleys, where charming hamlets and regional delicacies abound. Between the valleys, the route traverses a rugged mountain landscape and stunning high alpine scenery.

Map of the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif. (Click to enlarge)

 

The TMB is one of the most popular long-distance treks in Europe, with over 10,000 hikers per year embarking on their own walk around Mont Blanc. It is easy to understand why when considering the ease of access to the trek, plentiful accommodation options, and the fact that the route is achievable by most walker’s with decent fitness.

The closest major city to the TMB is Geneva, Switzerland, located just a few hours north by train or bus.  The route passes through seven mountain valleys (Val d’Arve, Val d’Montjoie, Vallee des Glaciers, Val Veny, Italian Val Ferret, Swiss Val Ferret, and Vallee du Trient) and visits charming alpine hamlets as it winds its way around Mont Blanc.

Contrary to what many believe, the TMB does not go through the iconic French mountain town of Chamonix, instead taking a trail high-above this famed destination.

Map showing the location of the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc is located at the intersection of France, Italy, and Switzerland. (Click to enlarge)

 

How long is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The short answer: it depends!

The Tour du Mont Blanc has many variations and route options as it makes its way around Mont Blanc. These variations include options to tackle challenging mountain passes (see the Fenetre d’Arpette), visit crystal clear mountain lakes (such as Lac Blanc), or to simply avoid some of the more challenging sections of the hike.

However, the traditional route of the TMB is approximately 170-kilometers long.

Of course, many trekkers will opt to take several of the alternate routes, which will lengthen or shorten the total distance, depending on the routes chosen. You’ll have the option to walk less or more depending on the weather, your preferences, and the conditions encountered on the trail.

Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc covers approximately 170 kilometers.

 

How difficult is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

If you are reasonably fit and have some backpacking experience, you should be well-suited to the physical challenges of the TMB. It is a tough trek that involves long, steep ascents and descents on nearly every stage, but it isn’t too technically demanding. Remember, the Tour du Mont Blanc is a hike not a climb!

Trekkers should be prepared for long days hiking with plenty of elevation change, but frequent services along the route make it more approachable. Weather can add to the challenge, and hikers should be prepared to encounter rain and even snow at any time.

Many of the stages of the TMB are structured such that you’ll begin your hike from the valley floor, trek up and over a mountain pass, and then descend into the next valley to finish the day. This provides a nice rhythm to the Tour du Mont Blanc but can also make for some difficult days.

Make sure you have healthy knees, as the downhill sections can take their toll!

All that being said we truly believe that most walkers who invest a bit of time in training and preparation can complete the Tour du Mont Blanc with no problems and have a great time doing it! Our best advice is to be sure you are in good physical condition and also make sound decisions when you encounter bad weather or snow.

A hiker on the trail to Col du Balme on the TMB.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a difficult trek, but most reasonably fit hikers should have no problem completing it.

 

Planning Your Perfect Tour du Mont Blanc

Now that you have a bit of background on the TMB let’s get into the heart of what this guide is all about: helping you plan your perfect Tour du Mont Blanc!

There are lots of things to think about so we’ve organized this guide into several sections. First, we’ll start with some basics such as which direction you should hike in and what time of year will be best for you to tackle the TMB. Then we’ll dive into some more in-depth considerations such as designing your perfect itinerary and selecting your accommodation.

Let’s get started!

Refuge des Mottets on the Tour du Mont Blanc

A little planning goes a long way to ensuring you have a great TMB!

 

Which direction should I hike the TMB?

The TMB is traditionally hiked in an anti-clockwise direction beginning in the French town of Les Houches, adjacent to Chamonix. It is also possible to walk the route in a clockwise direction, and trekkers headed this way typically start in the Swiss town of Champex-Lac.

Below we’ve outlined some pros and cons of hiking in each direction.

A hiker climbs the trail on the Tour du Mont Blanc

 

Anti-clockwise (starting in Les Houches, France)

Pros:

  • Follows the classic route, good if you’re a sucker for tradition.
  • Begins near Chamonix, which is easier to get to from the Geneva Airport than Champex.
  • Rewards hikers with jaw-dropping views of Mont Blanc on the final stage.

Cons:

  • More people hike in this direction, so the trail could feel more crowded throughout the day.

Clockwise (starting in Champex, Switzerland)

Pros:

  • Fewer hikers walking in the same direction as you.
  • The first few stages are a bit mellower, allowing you to get acclimated before tackling the tougher sections.
  • You’ll meet different people at each stop along the way.

Cons:

  • You’ll pass a large wave of people walking in the opposite direction each day, which can get tight on narrow trails.
  • Champex (your starting point) has fewer amenities and is less conveniently connected by public transport than Les Houches. If you want to start in Les Houches and hike clockwise, be warned that the first day involves a doozy of a climb, which could be a major shock to the system.

All things considered, you will be sure to have a great time on the TMB regardless of which direction you choose to hike in. Think through your options and make the best decision for yourself!

Champex, Switzerland

Champex, Switzerland.

 

When should I hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The hiking season for the TMB generally lasts from late June through mid-September. July and August are the busiest months, and accommodation (with the exception of camping) must be booked in advance. There’s a chance you could get away without advance bookings in June and September, but we still wouldn’t recommend it.

Trail leading down from the Col de Balme

No matter which month you hike the TMB always be prepared for bad weather.

 

June
Early in the season, you are likely to encounter snow on the trail. Depending on the snow levels, there could be sections that will be impassible and you may need to reroute. Otherwise, expect cool evenings, bright sunny days, and less crowded trails. Keep in mind that most mountain refuges don’t open until late June.

July
Hikers could still encounter some snow along the trail, but chances of significant snow will diminish as the month wears on. Expect beautiful warm days and abundant wildflowers. This is a popular month to hike.

August
Another busy month on the trail, hikers can expect snow-free paths and warm, sunny weather. The end of August brings the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc trail race. While the race is very cool, due to crowds and logistics, we recommend you try to avoid hiking during the UTMB.

September
Expect shorter days and increasingly chilly weather. This is a beautiful time to be on the trail and less crowded, although some accommodation providers may be closed for the season.

The bottom line: The best (and safest) time to hike the TMB is from late-June through early September. You’ll need to make advance bookings if you plan to hike during this time frame.

View from Lac Blanc on the TMB

 

Designing your TMB Itinerary

Now that you have a sense of which direction you’ll plan to hike in as well as which month you’ll embark of your trip it’s time to start thinking about your specific itinerary!

As we’ve mentioned, the Tour du Mont Blanc in traditionally hiked over the course of 11 days, which will be a great pace for many hikers. However, there are certainly those who will want to tackle the trail in fewer days or savor their time in the Alps and extend their hike over the course of two weeks or more!

Chamonix, France

 

Whatever you choose be sure to consider your personal abilities, how much time you’ll have, and what you want your typical days on the TMB to look like. Given the amount of accommodation options on the TMB your itinerary possibilities are nearly endless!

Checkout our general guidelines below as well as our stage-by-stage itinerary for the traditional 11-day Tour du Mont Blanc itinerary to get some ideas of your own.

Here are our general guidelines for thinking about how many days to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in:

  • 8-10 days: Fast pace (8 – 10 hours of hiking each day)
  • 10-11 days: Average pace (without a rest day) (6-8 hours of hiking each day)
  • 11-12 days: Average pace (with a rest day) (6 – 8 hours of hiking each day)
  • 12-14 days: Leisurely pace (6 – 7 hours of hiking each day)

A section of the Tour du Mont Blanc overlooking Val Veni, Italy.

Shortcuts, detours, and rest days on the TMB

One of the great things about trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc is the ability to alter your route based on the conditions encountered. Bad weather, injuries, fatigue, burnout, limited time… there are countless reasons why you may need to use alternative means of transportation to get from one point of the TMB to another.

Fortunately, the trail rarely strays too far from civilization, meaning you have tons of options along the way for when you need them. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common detours and shortcuts used on the TMB, as well as a few great resources for problem-solving your unique situation.

Cable cars

Bellvue Cable Car: This option allows you to eliminate the lion’s share of the climb out of Les Houches on the traditional (anti-clockwise) first stage of the trek. Once you get to the top, follow the signs a short way to rejoin the main trail.

La Maison Vielle Cable Car (and chairlift): If you’d like to avoid the knee-wrenching descent into Courmayeur (Stage 4), you can take a chairlift from La Maison Vieille down to Plan Chécrouit, where there’s a cable car that terminates in the town of Dolonne, across the river from Courmayeur. If needed, you can take a bus from Dolonne to Courmayeur, otherwise it’s just a short walk.

La Flegere Cable Car: This gondola departs directly next to Refuge la Flegere and ends in the village of Les Praz. From there, it’s possible to take a bus or taxi back to Chamonix. This is a good option if you need to cut out the final day of the TMB, or if you want to hike in reverse and avoid the long, long climb out of Les Houches. You could also take the cable car down into Les Praz for more accommodation and services at this stage, and then take it back up the next morning to continue your trek.

A cable car descends into the Chamonix valley

Cable cars offer a convenient way to cut out long downhill sections on the TMB.

 

Bus/Train

La Chapelle to Notre Dame de la Gorge Navette: This free shuttle bus, or “navette,” runs from La Chapelle (a short walk from the trail on the outskirts of Les Contamines) to Notre Dame de la Gorge (at the beginning of Stage 2). This means you can pick it up at the end of Stage 1 to cut out the last hour or so of walking before reaching Les Contamines, and you can also take it from Les Contamines to Notre Dame de la Gorge on the next day to get a bit of a head start (30-60 minutes, depending on where you stay in Les Contamines).

Les Chapieux to Refuge des Mottets Navette: This shuttle allows you to avoid about 2 hours of road walking at the beginning of Stage 3. It only costs a few euros to ride, and you can pick it up at the tourist information office in Les Chapieux. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance (do so the previous day, at the tourist office), as the shuttle fills up quickly in the mornings!

Savda Bus-In and around Courmayeur: This is the bus network you’ll use if you need to take any alternative transportation in Val Ferret or Val Veny (the two valleys in the surrounding area). You can take a bus from La Visaille to Courmayeur to cut out the final hour of walking on Stage 4.

This bus can also be used to reach campgrounds that are not located directly on the TMB route. Additionally, you can use the Savda bus to get to either La Fouly or Champex (although you will need to transfer in Orsières and take a Post Bus the remainder of the journey).

Post bus to La Fouly or Champex: If you are not able to walk between Courmayeur and La Fouly or from La Fouly to Champex, you can use the Swiss Post Bus to get from town to town. Service is relatively frequent and easy to navigate.

SBB Train from Champex to Trient: It’s relatively easy and straightforward to take the Swiss SBB train from Champex to Trient, effectively cutting out all of Stage 8. You need to utilize the local bus in Champex and may need to transfer a few times on the way, but Swiss trains really do live up to their reputation for being timely and efficient.

A train arrives at the main station in Chamonix, France.

 

Keep in mind that there are many more transportation options along the TMB!

We’ve simply listed a few of the most common and straightforward ones. If you need to find a specific detour, we recommend using Rome2Rio or Google Maps as a starting point. Post Bus and SBB also have excellent apps that can be used to plan trips and buy tickets.

NOTE: Many of the buses and cable cars only run during the peak months of the hiking season (July and August). Make sure that you check the websites and timetables before planning to use any of the options listed above.

Stage-by-stage Itinerary for the Tour du Mont Blanc

We recommend most hikers take between 10-12 days to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc, depending on their hiking ability, pace preferences, and weather conditions. The classic itinerary described below takes 11 days to complete and will be the best option for the majority of hikers.

Below, we’ve given you a brief overview of each of the classic eleven stages, as hiked in the anti-clockwise direction. While your specific itinerary may look different, it’s still helpful to look over these stage descriptions to get an idea of what you can expect on the trail.

Be sure to check out our interactive map and elevation profile for the route to get a comprehensive understanding of all of your options!

Stage 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines

Distance & Elevation: 17 km // +1,112 m, -902 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 – 6 hours
Where to stay: Chalet-Hôtel La Chemenaz
Description:

This stage is a perfect introduction to the TMB. It’s not too technical or demanding, yet it still gives walkers a decent challenge. You’ll start by climbing fairly steeply up out of Les Houches and past a ski area before topping out at Col de Voza.

From the Col, you’ll descend along dirt then paved roads while enjoying incredible views of the surrounding glaciers and aiguilles. Continue along the road through some very quaint hamlets, before veering off onto a trail (pay attention-this is easy to miss). You’ll end this stage by walking along a mellow riverside path all the way to Les Contamines.

Map of Stage 1 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 1 – Les Houches to Les Contamines (click to enlarge)

 

View from the TMB looking towards Les Houches

Looking back towards Les Houches on the first stage of the TMB.

 

Stage 2: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux

Distance & Elevation: 19 km // +1,440 m, -1,024 m
Estimated hiking time:
7 – 8 hours
Where to stay: Auberge de la Nova
Description:

Start this stage by passing by the Baroque chapel of Notre Dame de la Gorge. From there, you’ll follow an old Roman road steadily uphill before getting a break when the trail levels out and passes through open meadowland. After that, prepare for another steep climb, much of it on stony steps and scree, up first to the saddle of Col du Bonhomme, and then even higher to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. Here you’ll find the Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme, which makes a great spot to enjoy a break and small meal.

Early in the season, it’s common to encounter snow on this section. Upon reaching the summit of Col de la Croix du Bonhomme, begin your descent towards Les Chapieux. The trail on the way down begins as a steep footpath, eases to join a jeep road for a bit, and then finishes with steep zigzags through a pasture above Les Chapieux.

Map of Stage 2 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 2 – Les Contamines to Les Chapieux (click to enlarge)

 

Cows flank the Tour du Mont Blanc on Stage 3

 

Stage 3: Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta

Distance & Elevation: 14 km // +1,079 m, -480 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 – 6 hours
Where to stay: Rifugio Elisabetta
Description:

Choose to begin this stage with either a couple of miles of road walking, or by short-cutting it on a bus to Refuge des Mottets. From the refuge, you’ll begin a relatively short and easy climb to the Col de la Seigne.

Reaching the Col is special for a few reasons. First it marks the first of three international borders that you’ll cross on your trek. Standing at the top of the Col, you can look back towards France while also gazing ahead into Italy. Additionally, the wide-open views here are downright marvelous. From Col de la Seigne, enjoy a mellow descent to Rifugio Elisabetta.

Map of Stage 3 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 3 – Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta (click to enlarge)

 

Rifugio Elisabetta

Rifugio Elisabetta beckons at the end of Stage 3.

 

Stage 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur

Distance & Elevation: 16 km // +603 m, -1,536 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 – 6 hours
Where to stay: Maison La Saxe
Description:

As indicated by the elevation statistics, this stage is dominated by a very long and steep descent into Courmayeur. Before beginning that section, however, you’ll cross through the expansive Vallon de la Lee Blanche, where Lac Combal reflects the magnificent surrounding peaks. From there, you’ll climb for awhile on an undulating path to reach Col Checrouit, where the path begins its long downhill trajectory.

After passing a few ski areas (options to take the cable car down may be available), you’ll complete numerous switchbacks through the woods until you reach the quaint town of Dolonne. Walk through the town of Dolonne and cross the river to enter Courmayeur. Enjoy a wide arrange of excellent food and luxurious accommodation in Courmayeur. This is also a great place to take a rest day.

Map of Stage 4 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 4 – Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur (click to enlarge)

 

Rooftops of Courmayeur, Italy

The charming rooftops of Courmayeur welcome you at the end of Stage 4 of the TMB.

 

Stage 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

Distance & Elevation: 12 km // +1,225 m, -415 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 hours
Where to stay: Rifugio Bonatti
Description:

The views along this stage are some of the most spectacular of the entire walk, but you have to earn them with a very steep climb at the outset. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of watching Courmayeur grow ever smaller down below you as you zigzag your way up the hillside to Rifugio Bertone. From the Rifugio, you’ll enjoy an undulating, mellow walk with unparalleled views of Col de la Seigne, Aiguille Noire, Mont Blanc and the Grandes Jorasses.

It’s an incredible experience to look back and see Col de la Seigne far in the distance, knowing you’ve traversed such an expanse in just a few days with your own two feet. The beautiful views continue to abound all the way until you reach Rifugio Bonatti, an atmospheric and memorable place to spend the night.

Map of Stage 5 of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Stage 5 – Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti (click to enlarge)

 

Rifugio Bonatti with Mont Blanc in the background

Rifugio Bonatti is a spectacular place to spend the night on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

Stage 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly

Distance & Elevation: 19 km // +1,032 m, -1,456 m
Estimated hiking time:
6 – 7 hours
Where to stay: Hotel Edelweiss
Description:

This stage rewards hikers with another border crossing and more tremendous views. The walk begins with a relatively flat path that crosses a lovely hillside. Eventually, you’ll descend into Val Ferret (the Ferret Valley) before beginning a steep climb past Rifugio Elena and up further until you finally reach the Grand Col Ferret.

At the top of the pass, you’ll enjoy your first views of Switzerland as well as phenomenal views of majestic peaks in every direction. It’s all downhill from there, much of which is pretty manageable, save for a few steep sections. There’s a rather uninspiring stretch of road walking at the very end of the day, but the charming town of La Fouly makes it all worth it.

Map of Stage 6 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 6 – Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly (click to enlarge)

 

Hiker on the Tour du Mont Blanc enjoy views from the Grand Col Ferret

Taking in the views from the Grand Col Ferret.

 

Stage 7: La Fouly to Champex

Distance & Elevation: 15 km // +729 m, -860 m
Estimated hiking time:
4 – 5 hours
Where to stay: Au Vieux Champex
Description:

All of the guidebooks will tell you that this is the easiest day of the TMB (which is technically true), but don’t expect this stage to be completely effortless. Sometimes the “easiest” days can end up feeling really tough if we go into them with too cavalier a mindset. The first two thirds of this stage are quite mellow indeed; you’ll wind your way gently downhill through a quintessential Swiss valley filled with small farms and picturesque hamlets.

A substantial climb to Champex waits for you at the end of the stage, however. Even though it really is much less strenuous than the ascents of previous stages, it can be a shock to the body at the end of the day. Fortunately, the trail stays in the shade of the trees for much of the way up, and you’ll also get to experience the many wooden sculptures that are interspersed throughout the woods.

Map of Stage 7 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 7 – La Fouly to Champex (click to enlarge)

 

Champex-Lac on the TMB

Champex, Switzerland is a lovely stop on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

Stage 8: Champex to Col de la Forclaz

Distance & Elevation: 14 km // +1,125 m, -1,066 m
Estimated hiking time:
4 – 5 hours
Where to stay: Hotel de la Forclaz
Description:

On stage 8, the main TMB route follows an undulating path up to the Alp Bovine and then descends to Col de la Forclaz, but there are quite a few options to consider here.

The Fenetre d’Arpette route is a popular variant for those seeking challenge and adventure. With either route, you’ll also have a few options to choose from when it comes to your stopping point.

For a shorter day, you can stop at Hotel de la Forclaz or you can continue on further to either Le Puety or Trient. There isn’t a clear “best” choice for what to do on stage 8, but it is important to think about what is best for you in terms of challenge, distance, and accommodation.

Map of Stage 8 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 8 – Champex to Col de la Forclaz (click to enlarge)

 

Fenetre d'Arpette

The Fenetre d’Arpette provides a challenging alternate route on Stage 8 of the TMB.

 

Stage 9: Col de la Forclaz to Tre-le-Champ

Distance & Elevation: 14 km // +1,112 m, -1,229 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 – 6 hours
Where to stay: Auberge la Boerne
Description:

This stage isn’t without physical demands, gaining and losing quite a bit of elevation in a relatively short distance. While most of the climb maintains a grade that isn’t crazy steep, the descent is another story. Even if you don’t love the arduous nature of stage 9, you’ll almost certainly be smitten by the scenery.

Not only does summiting Col de Balme mean you’ll celebrate your third and final border crossing (back into France), but you’ll also get incredible views of Mont Blanc, back in sight for the first time in several days. Seeing Mont Blanc again and being back on French soil will likely remind you that your trek is nearing its end. Make sure to savor the final two stages of this incredible experience!

Map of Stage 9 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 9 – Col de la Forclaz to Tre-le-Champ (click to enlarge)

 

Refuge du Col de Balme on the TMB

Approaching the top of the Col de Balme on stage 9 of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

Stage 10: Tre-le-Champ to La Flegere

Distance & Elevation: 7 km // +892 m, -446 m
Estimated hiking time:
4 hours
Where to stay: Refuge de la Flegere
Description:

Allow yourself to sleep in on this stage, as you’ll have just a short walk ahead of you. Better yet, get to Refuge la Flegere early and enjoy a walk to the nearby Lac Blanc and a meal or beverage at the refuge. The final two days of the TMB follow the Grand Balcon Sud, a balcony trail with unrivaled views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks. In other words, you’re in for a real treat.

Instead of being famous for this fact, however, stage 10 is perhaps better known as the “ladder stage,” and I’m betting you can guess why. To reach the high point, you’ll need to climb a series of ladders, catwalks, and platforms that go on for longer than you might expect. If you don’t have experience with this kind of thing and you also have a fear of heights, we recommend taking the Col des Montets variante.

This route takes about the same amount of time and still has great views. If you choose to conquer the ladders, make sure you do so in good weather conditions, use caution and common sense, and you’ll be just fine. Heck, you might even find the ladders to be pretty fun! Upon reaching Refuge la Flegere, join in the festive revelry of your fellow hikers marking their final night on the trail.

Map of Stage 10 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 10 – Tre-le-Champ to La Flegere (click to enlarge)

 

Refuge La Flegere on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Savoring the views from La Flegere.

 

Stage 11: La Flegere to Les Houches

Distance & Elevation: 17 km // +969 m, -1,821 m
Estimated hiking time:
6 – 7 hours
Where to stay: Hotel Le Morgane (Chamonix)
Description:

The final stage of the TMB is a big one in every way. Even though it’s dominated by downhill walking, the physical demands shouldn’t be overlooked. Start the walk on a very mellow uphill grade, before beginning a steeper climb past a ski area until reaching Col du Brevent. Take in the scenery (and catch your breath) here, but keep in mind that the best is yet to come. Climb further on more rugged terrain until you reach the almost-summit of Le Brevent (you can take a 5-minute detour to get to the actual top if you’d like).

At this point, get ready to be completely overwhelmed by the views. From Le Brevent you’ll have an unobstructed and totally breathtaking vantage point from which to take in the entire Mont Blanc range. Take time to study every intricate glacier and craggy spire before finally tearing yourself away to make your way down towards Les Houches.

Fortunately, you’ll continue to enjoy the scenery for awhile as you descend on a very long and very steep path. As you near Les Houches, the trail enters the woods where it passes a zoo and the large Christ Roi statue. Finally, the path spits you out onto the road and perhaps the least scenic part of Les Houches. Keep walking to reach the more charming part of town, then stop and toast to your remarkable accomplishment!

Map of Stage 11 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 11 – La Flegere to Les Houches (click to enlarge)

 

View of Mont Blanc from the Tour du Mont Blanc.

The final day of the TMB brings stunning views of Mont Blanc.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc Accommodation

There are accommodation options along the TMB to suit every budget and travel style. While not all of these options are available at every stage of the route, you can certainly customize your itinerary to fit your needs.

It’s nearly inevitable that you’ll need to stay in a mountain refuge on at least one stage of your trek. Be prepared for basic, communal facilities, but don’t fear! These special places often yield the most memorable stays of the entire trip.

We’ve provided a brief explanation of each of the options below:

Hotels on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Typically small and independently owned, the hotels along the TMB serve up a dose of luxury to the weary hiker. Unless otherwise noted by the hotel, expect all of the usual amenities (hot shower, private bathroom, breakfast offered, linens and towels provided, etc). Hotels typically cost upwards of €60 per person. For an additional fee, many hotels offer half-pension (AKA half-board or demi-pension) which includes dinner and breakfast. A few hotels along the route have dortoirs in addition to private rooms. Dortoirs are dormitories that offer a good budget option.

Hotel in Chamonix, France

 

Read More: TMB Accommodation and Refuge Guide

Refuges on the Tour du Mont Blanc

We consider a stay in a mountain hut to be a highlight of any TMB trek. Set in stunning and remote locations, the ambiance at the refuges (or rifugios in Italian) can’t be beat. Half-pension gets you a bed in a dorm (linens not provided), a delicious communal dinner, and a basic breakfast. Some refuges also offer private rooms (with shared bathrooms). Expect to pay around €45 per person for half-board in a dorm.

Rifugio Bonatti on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Spending a night in one of the many refuges along the route is a classic TMB experience.

 

Gites d’Etape and Auberges

These are simple guest houses offering basic, dorm-style accommodation. Half-pension (dinner and breakfast) is typically included in the price. There are shared bathroom facilities with hot showers. Bed linens are usually provided. These are a good option for those who want to stick to a smaller budget, but don’t want to carry camping gear. Expect to pay around €50 per person for half-pension.

Auberge de la Nova, Les Chapieux

The Auberge de la Nova in Les Chapieux.

 

Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Although they are the cheapest accommodation option along the TMB, the campgrounds on the route are quite luxurious. All provide sinks and toilets, and many offer hot showers and even WiFi! Expect to pay around €12 per person to camp. Note: you cannot camp on every stage of the TMB.

Be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc for a full camping itinerary.

Tent at Le Peuty on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Camping at Le Peuty on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

Do I need to book my accommodation in advance for the TMB?

This is a question that creates stress and anxiety for many hikers as they are planning for their TMB adventure. The short answer is that you should try to book your accommodation as early as possible, but the longer answer is a bit more nuanced.

We’ve broken it down for you here, so you can plan with more confidence and less worry.

  • Mountain refuges are the most important to book ahead of time. Many of these huts are quite small, so they fill up quickly. Many refuges accept reservations year-round, typically allowing you to book up to 12 months in advance. Some, however, do not respond to reservation requests during the winter months (September-March, typically). You should still try to email or call the refuge to reserve your spot as soon as you know your itinerary, even if it’s prior to March.
  • Gites, auberges, and guesthouses should be your next priority when it comes to advance bookings. This is especially true in the smaller villages where accommodation options are limited, and/or if you have specific preferences for your lodging (ex; private room, linens provided, etc). As soon as you’ve made your travel plans, reach out to the gite/guesthouse (or book online). For peak summer months, it’s optimal to have these bookings made by the end of March.
  • For larger hotels, you have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to making reservations. You should definitely still try to do it as early as possible, but they have more rooms and are often located in places with greater availability of lodging options.

Refuge de la Flegere

 

You do not need to make advance reservations for any of the campgrounds on the TMB. In fact, we recommend that you don’t. This will allow you to maximize the freedom and flexibility that camping provides, and it will make it much less complicated to check in at the campgrounds.

Booking your accommodation for the Tour du Mont Blanc

When it comes to booking your TMB accommodation, there’s good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. There’s no single, streamlined booking platform for all of the refuges and/or accommodation providers along the route. In fact, the way you book will vary greatly from place to place.

Many refuges, hotels, and gites have their own websites with easy online booking platforms. Some require that you send an email or complete a contact form on their website. There are still a few refuges and gites that may require you to book over the phone, but that is becoming increasingly rare.

The good news?

The Autour du Mont Blanc website has a comprehensive list of TMB accommodation with links to booking websites and phone numbers for a majority of the refuges, gites, and hotels along the route. This website makes it very quick and easy to find and book most of your accommodation.

You can always send your request in English. If the accommodation provider doesn’t speak English, they will often use Google Translate to send the reply. For those booking by phone, make sure to ask at the beginning of the call if English is okay. If not, send your request via email.

Hikers stand next to Lac Blanc on the TMB

 

Getting to and from the Tour du Mont Blanc

The TMB is relatively easy to get to given its close proximity to Geneva, Switzerland. Flight connections from the rest of Europe, the US, and other international destinations are frequent. Travel by train to Geneva is also straightforward, if not a bit more time consuming than air travel. We recommend booking you flights as soon as you are able, as fares during the peak summer season can be quite high.

Getting to Chamonix/Les Houches from Geneva

The vast majority of walkers will get to the start of the Tour du Mont Blanc by first flying into the Geneva Airport (GVA). There are frequent flights to Geneva from the rest of Europe as well as a good number of flights from the U.S.

Once you’ve landed in Geneva, you’ll have several options for getting to Chamonix/Les Houches:

  • BlaBlaBus (formerly OuiBus) – We found this to be the cheapest option and would highly recommend BlaBlaBus. The service departs directly from the Geneva Airport and will take you to the Chamonix Sud bus station, in the heart of Chamonix. Expect the journey to take about two hours.
  • AlpyBus – AlpyBus runs a door to door transfer service from the Geneva Airport to hotels in the Chamonix Valley. It is more costly than BlaBlaBus, but also more convenient since they’ll drop you directly at your hotel (or campground!).
  • Mountain Drop-offs – Similar to AlpyBus, Mountain Drop-offs runs a door to door transfer service for walkers arriving in Geneva. Very highly rated.

All of the options above will also be able to transport you back to the Geneva Airport at the end of the TMB. Many also offer discounts for booking a return ticket.

A church steeple in Les Houches

Getting to Les Houches from Geneva couldn’t be easier.

 

Getting to Champex from Geneva (for clockwise TMB hikers)

If you plan on walking the Tour du Mont Blanc in the clockwise direction, you’ll be starting in the Swiss town of Champex. You’ll likely begin your travel by first flying into the Geneva Airport (GVA).  Once you’ve landed in Geneva, you’ll need to connect via train and local bus to reach Champex.

Unlike Chamonix, you have few options other than public transportation to reach Champex. However, Swiss trains are renowned for being on time and generally pleasant. Here are the instructions for reaching Champex from the Geneva Airport:

  • Step One – Train to Martigny: Upon exiting the airport in Geneva you’ll need to catch a train to the Swiss town of Martigny. Most of these trains will be signed in the direction of Brig, so be sure to inquire that the train you are boarding stops in Martigny. The journey should take around 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Step Two – Train to Sembrancher: From Martigny you’ll take a 15-minute train ride to the town of Sembrancher.
  • Step Three – Train to Orsières: From Sembrancher, you’ll catch another train to the town of Orsieres. This is a short, 10-minute ride from Sembrancher.
  • Step Four – Local bus to Champex: Unfortunately, Champex is not on a train line so you’ll have to complete the final leg of your journey via the local bus. From outside the Orsieres train station, you’ll need to catch bus #271 to Champex. The ride takes approximately 30 minutes and will drop you conveniently in the center of Champex.

The Swiss train provider, SBB, has an excellent website to help you plan your journey. We also recommend downloading the SBB app to your phone, which is very helpful for viewing timetables while traveling. Rome2Rio is also an excellent resource for mapping out your specific trip.

Train in the moutains

 

Luggage storage and transfer on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Many walkers will be traveling with more luggage than they might want to carry for the entire TMB. Storing extra luggage or having it transferred to your next stop is a great way to avoid carrying excess weight on your trek, while still allowing you to have everything you need for the remainder of your trip. This is especially true if you plan on traveling elsewhere on your holiday.

Luggage Storage on the TMB

Unfortunately, there are no luggage storage facilities at the train station in Chamonix.

Insider tip: Walkers can store their extra luggage at the Auberge du Manoir, which charges just €10 per day (free if you stay there before and after your hike).

Other hotels and accommodation may store your baggage if you have a reservation before and after you walk, but you’ll want to confirm this ahead of time.

Luggage Transfer on the TMB

If you’re concerned about the difficulty of the TMB and have room in your budget, using a luggage transfer service can be an excellent way to reduce your effort on the trail and make your trek more enjoyable. Both of the companies we’ve recommended below come highly rated and allow you to customize services to your itinerary and preferences.

Each morning of your trek, you’ll simply leave your bag in the designated storage location to be picked up by 8:00am. Your luggage carrier will deliver your bags to the next stop on your itinerary by 6:00pm each evening.

Keep in mind that they will not be able to deliver your luggage to any of the mountain refuges that are inaccessible by road (including Rifugio Bonatti and Rifugio Elisabetta). Additionally, they will not drop your luggage at private residences or AirBnBs.

  • Besson Taxi Mont Blanc: This carrier typically charges between €150-€300 for transfers, depending on how many days you use their services and how many people are in your group. They charge per bag and have a strict policy that bags may not exceed 15kg. This company also can provide shuttle services between stops on the TMB, if needed.
  • Mont Blanc Bags: Mont Blanc Bags specializes entirely in luggage transfer on the TMB, meaning they are organized and have the capacity to service over 160 locations. Prices start at €199.00 for one bag and up to 15 days. Bags may not exceed 18kg. Unfortunately, they only provide services to those hiking in the traditional anticlockwise direction, and not those who choose to trek in the clockwise direction.

Hiker with backpack on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Worried about carrying your big backpack on the TMB? A luggage transfer service might be the perfect solution.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc Weather

Mountain weather is always volatile, and what you’ll experience on the Tour du Mont Blanc is no different. Conditions can change very rapidly in the Alps, meaning that you can find yourself in the middle of a whiteout blizzard or on an exposed ridge during a thunderstorm without much warning.

However, for the most part the weather during the hiking season is ridiculously lovely. Expect warm, sunny days, cool evenings, and not too much rain. You should also need to be prepared for very hot temperatures, very cold temperatures, rain, and storms (and you could even see all of these in the same day!) Getting caught high up in the mountains during a storm or without the right gear is extremely dangerous, but you can greatly minimize your risk by taking a few important precautions:

  • The Meteoblue App is arguably the best resource for predicting the weather. It allows you to see the forecast for specific peaks or coordinates, plus it has excellent radar displays and wind predictions. Check it every time you have cell service. Chamonix-meteo also gives detailed and (mostly) accurate forecasts for the Mont Blanc region.
  • If you’re ever unsure about whether you should hike in the current conditions, it can be helpful to ask the warden at the nearest mountain refuge. When in doubt, it’s usually better to air on the side of caution and give the mountains the respect they deserve. You can almost always find a detour or shortcut to get back on track the following day.
  • Start hiking early in the day! Not only will you enjoy gorgeous sunrises, get to your refuge or campground before the crowds, and avoid the worst of the heat, but you’ll also greatly reduce your risk of getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms.

Rain clouds move over the TMB

 

Food & Drink on the TMB

One of the many wonderful things about the Tour du Mont Blanc is that you don’t need to worry about carrying (and eating) eleven days’ worth of underwhelming freeze-dried backpacker meals. Due to the fact that the trail passes through many towns and villages, you will be able to resupply every few days. 

For budget travelers, it is possible to self-cater and keep your food and drink costs quite reasonable. You’ll need to bring your own camp stove and cooking equipment if you plan on fixing most of your own meals along the TMB. You can purchase baguettes, good local cheese and charcuterie, fresh fruit, and delicious pastries for very reasonable prices.

Most of the shops along the route have convenient foods like instant noodles and canned soups, as well as dried fruits, nuts, energy bars, and other snacks so you should have no problem putting together quick and delicious meals and snacks along the route. Some hikers choose to use some backpacker meals and supplement with foods they purchase along the way.

Cheese wheels on a table

 

Additionally (for those with slightly deeper pockets), nearly all of the hotels, gites, and refuges offer the option of purchasing meals. You can just show up for lunch or a snack, but you’ll need to order ahead of time for dinner. Most refuges and many hotels and gites offer the option of half-board (demi pension), which includes dinner and breakfast.

Dinners at the mountain refuges are typically indulgent, multi-course affairs. Expect a soup or salad as a starter, a hearty pasta dish as the main, and either a cheese course or dessert to finish. Breakfast is much simpler, typically consisting of a selection of breads, cold cereals, juice, and coffee or tea.

Whichever way you approach your food and drink strategy, we think you’ll find that trekking in the Alps is every bit as much a culinary delight as a natural one!

Cheese and wine on a table.

 

Dietary Restrictions
The restaurants and accommodation providers along the TMB are generally quite willing to provide a vegetarian option. Those who are vegan, gluten-free, or have a specialized diet will have a harder time finding suitable meals. While certain places will be able to accommodate your needs, that will be the exception and not the norm. Make sure to inform all of your lodging providers of your dietary needs in advance, as they will be much more likely to accommodate you. That being said, we’d recommend bringing along plenty of your own food as a back up.

Water
All of the hotels, gites, and campgrounds provide potable water (eau potable). You will pass through many villages with public drinking fountains, but make sure to plan ahead and carry 1-2 liters of water each day. Due to the presence of agricultural activity near large swaths of the trail, we do not recommend drinking any water from natural streams without filtering it first.

Stove Fuel
If you need to purchase fuel for a camp stove, your best bet is to get this in Chamonix or Les Houches. Both towns have outdoor retailers that sell a few different kinds of fuel, and will be able to accommodate most standard stove types. It is unlikely that you’ll be able to find it at most of the stops you’ll pass through along the TMB, so plan on getting enough fuel to last your entire trek.

Maps & Guidebooks for the Tour du Mont Blanc

Carrying a good map is essential on the Tour du Mont Blanc. While the trail is generally well-marked and easy to follow, there are countless trail junctions, detours, and confusing sections that require some form of navigation.

A GPS map for the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc in Gaia GPS. The perfect way to navigate!

 

When we hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc we did not rely on traditional, paper maps that are available for the route. Instead, we preferred utilizing GPS maps on our phones to ensure we knew where the trail was as well as where we were in relation to it. Cell phone service is very limited along the TMB, so it is critical to have a good offline mapping app such as Gaia GPS to ensure you’ll be able to view the map at any point along the route.

You can learn more about how to navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc here. 

With all this considered, we still recommend carrying a paper map. While technology has done a tremendous amount to make navigating while hiking easier, there is simply no replacement for carrying a physical map with you.

We recommend bringing the IGN 3630 OT Chamonix and IGN 3531 ET St-Gervais with you, as they provide a detailed view of the TMB route. A weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Find everything you need to know about Tour du Mont Blanc maps here.

As for guidebooks, you’ll have several excellent options to choose from. The first, and the one we recommend, is Kev Reynolds excellent Tour of Mont Blanc: Complete two-way trekking guide published by the renowned guidebook company, Cicerone.

Another good option is the Trailblazer Guides Tour du Mont Blanc guidebook. Trail Blazer guides are known for their excellent maps and exhaustive list of accommodation options.

Trail signs on the Tour du Mont Blanc

 

Budgeting & Money on the Tour du Mont Blanc

At first glance, the Tour du Mont Blanc might seem physically daunting, but many might find it even more financially intimidating.

The beautiful thing about the TMB, however, is that it’s pretty much up to you how expensive you want to make it. There are hikers who choose to spend more to take guided tours, stay in private rooms at upscale hotels and huts, and buy all of their meals at restaurants along the way. Others take the extremely frugal route, camping as much as possible, cooking their own meals, and minimizing expenses wherever they can.

Euros on a table.

 

Regardless of your budget and travel style, it’s important to get an idea of what to expect in terms of expenses so you can plan accordingly and avoid any stressful situations when it comes to money.

Additionally, you might find that an experience like the TMB is more within reach than you originally thought, if you just make a few intentional decisions when planning your travel.

In this section, we’ve broken down the typical costs for things like transportation, accommodation, and food. Obviously, prices will vary from place to place, but this should give you a good starting point.

  • Accommodation
    • Average Hut Price: €54 (per person)
    • Average Campsite Price: €12 (per person)
    • Hotel in Chamonix for before and after the hike: €85 (per night)
    • Hotel in Courmayeur for rest day: €132 (per night)
  • Transit
    • Bus from Geneva to Chamonix: €43 (round trip)
    • Bus from Chamonix to Les Houches: €3 (each way)
    • Shuttle Bus from Les Chapieux to Refuge Des Mottets: €3
    • Average one-way cable car ticket: €20
  • Food & Drink
    • Beer: €6
    • Bottle of Wine: €10
    • Baguette: €2
    • Breakfast/Lunch Mountain Hut: €15
    • Dinner at Mountain Hut: €25
    • Coffee/Tea: €3
    • Sandwich: €10
  • Miscellaneous
    • Stove Fuel: €7
    • Laundry: €4 for wash and dry
    • Maps: €40

Find more detail on how to budget for the Tour du Mont Blanc here. 

Cash or Credit?

While an increasing number of accommodation providers, shops, and other services are beginning to accept credit cards, cash is still the primary payment method used along the TMB. It is important to carry enough cash to cover all of your expenses for several days, as  ATMs are infrequent along the trail.

Below we’ve provided a list of stops along the TMB that have ATMs:

  • Chamonix*
  • Les Houches
  • Les Contamines
  • Courmayeur
  • La Fouly
  • Champex
  • Argentiere*

*These stops require a short detour from the main TMB route.

Currency on the TMB

The TMB crosses the borders of three different countries, meaning that you’ll need to switch from using Euros in France to Swiss Francs in Switzerland then back to Euros upon entering Italy. While most places in Switzerland will accept Euros, you’ll be better off using Francs if you can.

What to pack for the Tour du Mont Blanc

Making smart choices about what to pack (and what to leave behind) is a vital part of setting yourself up for a successful and enjoyable Tour du Mont Blanc experience. It’s simple- the heavier your pack, the harder your effort. However, with a little thoughtful planning, you can keep your pack weight manageable while still ensuring you have everything you need to be comfortable on the trail and while relaxing at the refuges, campgrounds, and villages along the way.

Find our complete Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List here. 

Our best advice for packing for the Tour du Mont Blanc is to adopt the mantra less is more. Here’s a few tips for ensuring you pack weight is manageable:

  • You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. You’ll have plenty of time and sunshine to wash and dry laundry Second, clothes are heavy, so cutting out everything but the absolute essentials will make a huge difference.
  • Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need. This is especially true for those camping along the route.
  • Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.

Hiking equipment laid out on the floor.

 

A few of our must-brings for the Tour du Mont Blanc are outlined below:

  • Trekking poles: You (and your knees) will be so glad to have them on steep sections, and this is especially true for campers who are carrying heavier loads
  • A good backpack: Backpacks need to be broken in through use, and your body needs to get used to the feeling of wearing it for extended periods of time. In terms of size, most campers will need between 45 and 65 liters. Those staying in refuges will find that 30-40L is perfect
  • Down jacket: We’ve found this to be a perfect piece of gear for the Tour du Mont Blanc. It can be quite chilly in the Alps in the early morning and evenings, but a heavy fleece or bulky jacket can really sabotage a lightweight pack.
  • Ear plugs: A must for sleeping in mountain refuges!
  • Good base layers: A good base layer is an essential part of any complete TMB gear list. We always bring a high-quality merino wool base layer and recommend all TMB hikers do the same.

How to train for the Tour du Mont Blanc

With just a bit of advance work and preparation, you can make sure you’re physically ready to have your best experience on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Because of its relatively low elevation and minimal technicality, the TMB is a pretty approachable long-distance trek for the casual hiker. That being said, it’s still a serious physical challenge that will push your body to new limits.

You will enjoy your trip infinitely more if you train ahead of time. This is even more true if you plan on camping (and carrying the heavier backpack that goes with it).

Here is a rough outline of a training plan to get you in shape for the TMB:

  • Six Months Before Your Trip: Build the Base
    Obviously, everyone will approach the TMB with varying levels of fitness, past injuries, and overall health needs. You’ll know your individual situation best, but you should generally focus on building your aerobic endurance in the months leading up to your trip. Start to incorporate longer bouts of walking or running into your regular fitness routine.
  • Three Months Before Your Trip: Go Uphill
    Ideally, at this point in your training you should increase the frequency and intensity of your hiking. If possible, try to hit the trails once a week and select hikes that would take two hours or longer with at least 1,500 feet of elevation gain.
  • Two Months Before Your Trip: Put on Your Pack
    In the eight weeks or so before your trip, try get in as many longer hikes (or walks) with your gear as possible. Think of it as a “dress rehearsal” for your trek. The benefits of breaking in your gear at this point are twofold. First, you’ll be able to test your boots, backpack, socks, and so on to ensure that they fit well during longer hikes. Second, you’ll begin training your body to hike while wearing a heavy backpack.
  • One Month Before Your Trip: Time for a Test Run
    If at all possible, try to take a 1-2 night backpacking trip in your local woods. If you aren’t planning on camping along the TMB you don’t need to take an overnight trip, but you should still try to fit in two back-to-back days of long, hard hiking. This important step allows you to try out different ways of packing your backpack for maximum fit and comfort, practice setting up camp, and get your body used to hiking for consecutive days in a row.

Follow our outline above and you will be able to enjoy every moment of your incredible trip so much more. Plus, the time and effort you spend working towards your goal will make the real thing that much sweeter!

For more details on how to train for the Tour du Mont Blanc check out our comprehensive guide here. 

Mont Blanc as seen from the Italian section of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

What’s Next?

If you’ve read our Guide above, you’re well on your way to having an incredible experience on the Tour du Mont Blanc. However, you still have lots of preparation before you’re truly ready! Be sure to read our entire series on the TMB to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip and don’t hesitate to comment with your questions below!

No Comments on The Ultimate Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc

Get Your FREE TMB Starter Kit!

This 10-page booklet will help you jumpstart the planning process for your Tour du Mont Blanc adventure. Our printable guide covers all of the need-to-know basics about the trek, including…

This 10-page booklet will help you jumpstart the planning process for your Tour du Mont Blanc adventure. Our printable guide covers all of the need-to-know basics about the trek, including accommodation, when to hike, food and drink, typical costs, packing lists, and more!

Enter your email address to receive our awesome starter kit.

No Comments on Get Your FREE TMB Starter Kit!

Guide to Camping on the Tour of Mont Blanc

Have you ever wanted to spend 11 days in the world’s most majestic mountains, walking on rugged trails by day, indulging in artisanal cheese and plentiful wine by night, and…

Have you ever wanted to spend 11 days in the world’s most majestic mountains, walking on rugged trails by day, indulging in artisanal cheese and plentiful wine by night, and capping it all off by cozying up in your tent  under the stars as the crisp evening chill sets in? Maybe you’ve never considered it before. We didn’t know we wanted such a thing either…and then we learned about the TMB and that all changed.

Water and steep mountains on stage 4 of the TMB

We’re not exaggerating when we say this is one of the prettiest trails in the world!

 

We first hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc in July 2017. We camped most nights and stayed in a few huts. Even after experiencing several more incredible thru-hikes across Europe, the TMB still stands out as the most unique and rewarding.  We created this guide in hopes that it will inspire more people to camp along the route, which was one of our favorite parts of the entire trip. Ever since completing our own trek, we’ve spent the past few years researching the best campsites and most essential information to share with our fellow tent-dwellers. We even hiked much of the trek again in 2019 to ensure that our guide is accurate and up-to-date (and because we couldn’t help but return to one of the most beautiful trails in the world!)

Thanks for using our guide and we wish you a wonderful trip! As always, we’d love to answer your questions and hear your feedback in the comments below.

Happy Trails,

Emily & Ian

Everything you need to to plan your TMB – all in one place.

Whether you prefer mountain huts or tents, fastpacking or meandering, luxury, dirtbag or something in between, we’ve got you covered. From custom itineraries to maps created specifically for campers we can help you plan your perfect TMB adventure! Our downloadable Guide to Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc is ultimate resource to help you plan your perfect trip. Pick your digital guide below:

LEARN MORE
The 50+ page guide contains resources you won’t find anywhere else, including:

  • Custom GPS files for the entire trek
  • Stage-by-stage itineraries
  • Complete packing list for campers
  • Detailed information on getting to/from the Tour du Mont Blanc
  • A 15-week training plan to ensure you’re prepared for your hike

We truly believe this is the best guide available for the camping on the TMB.  Pick up your guide below and if your not satisfied for any reason we’ll give you a full refund!

BUY NOW

What’s in This Guide:

About the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) takes trekkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland on one of the most spectacular trails in the world. Typically completed in 11 stages, the route circumnavigates  Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe. The trail passes through seven unique and beautiful valleys, where charming hamlets and regional delicacies abound. Between the valleys, the route traverses rugged mountain landscapes and stunning high alpine scenery. The TMB is one of the most popular long-distance treks in Europe and is considered to be a classic walk that belongs on any passionate hiker’s bucket list.

The Mont Blanc massif covered in glaciers and seen from stage 11 on the TMB

The Mont Blanc Massif in all of its glacier-covered glory.

 

How long is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Distance: 170 kilometers (105 miles)

Elevation Gain: 10,000 meters (32,800 feet)

 Check out our extensive collection of TMB Maps to get a better sense of distance, stages, elevation, and more! 

How long does it take to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?

It typically takes walkers between 8-11 days to complete the TMB. One of the great things about the hike is that there’s a lot of room for customization when it comes to creating your itinerary. Camping will allow you a lot more flexibility in terms of not needing advance reservations, but you will be a bit more restricted in other ways since camping is not permitted on every stage of the TMB. We’ve structured this camping guide for the classic 11-stage version of the trek, but we’ve noted places where you can adapt your itinerary to combine or reduce stages.

A few other considerations to keep in mind when deciding how many days you need to hike the TMB:

  • If you plan on camping, you’ll need to carry a heavier pack and therefore may hike slower than usual.
  • Do you enjoy spending 8+ hours on steep trails every day? If not, you shouldn’t double-up on stages.
  • Fastpacking the TMB is possible in 7 days or less, but you’ll need to be very fit and experienced.
  • Do you want to take a rest day? If so, don’t forget to factor that into your itinerary.
  • Are you determined to exclusively camp along the trail? If so, you’ll need to adjust your itinerary to avoid stopping in places without camping options. See our stage-by-stage guide for more details on this.
  • Are you interested in taking shortcuts or cutting out sections of the trail? This can be a good option for those who don’t have enough time to realistically complete the entire route or want to tailor it for their ability level.

Signpost with several yellow trail signs pointing in two different directions.

There are lots of variants and shortcuts that can be used to customize your trek.

 

When to hike

The general season for hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc lasts from mid-June through mid-September, although this window is subject to great variability due to snow conditions on the higher passes.

June can be lovely, but you will likely have to negotiate large sections of the trail that are covered in snow. In some cases, you may need to reroute to avoid unsafe areas. Those hiking in June should bring crampons. You can expect an explosion of wildflowers in June and July.

LEARN MORE
July and August are typically the best times to be on the trail, but these are also the most busy months on the TMB. Be sure to check when the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc is happening. This trail-race of the entire circuit typically occurs at the end of August and brings out thousands of spectators – not the best time to be trekking!

Expect increasingly cooler weather and fewer crowds in September; this can be a wonderful time to hike. However, it’s important to note that many campgrounds and other services along the route may already be closed for the season.

Crossing a snow field on the TMB

An easy snow crossing in July.

 

How difficult is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

If you are reasonably fit and have some backpacking experience, you should be well-suited to the physical challenges of the TMB. It is a tough trek that involves long, steep ascents and descents on nearly every stage, but it isn’t too technically demanding. Make sure you have healthy knees, as the downhill sections can take their toll! Keep in mind that carrying a heavier pack will greatly increase the physical demands of a trek like the Tour du Mont Blanc. If camping, some extra weight is inevitable, but if you’re strategic you can avoid carrying too big of a backpack.

Read More: How to Train for the TMB

Everything you need to plan your perfect TMB – all in one place.

LEARN MORE
 

Which Direction?

The TMB is traditionally hiked in a counterclockwise direction beginning in the French town of Les Houches, adjacent to Chamonix. It is also possible to walk the route in a clockwise direction, and trekkers headed this way typically start in the Swiss town of Champex. Below we’ve outlined some pros and cons of hiking in each direction:

Counterclockwise

PROS:

  • Follows the classic route, good if you’re a sucker for tradition.
  • Begins in Chamonix, which is easier to get to from the Geneva Airport than Champex.
  • Rewards hikers with jaw-dropping views of Mont Blanc on the final stage.

CONS:

  • More people hike in this direction, so the trail could feel more crowded throughout the day.

Clockwise

PROS:

  • Fewer hikers walking in the same direction as you.
  • The first few stages are a bit mellower, allowing you to get acclimated before tackling the tougher sections.

CONS:

  • You’ll pass a large wave of people walking in the opposite direction each day, which can get tight on narrow trails.
  • Champex (your starting point) has less amenities and is less conveniently connected by public transport than Chamonix. If you want to start in Chamonix and hike clockwise, be warned that the first day involves a doozy of a climb, which could be a major shock to the system.

Our stage-by-stage guide is organized for hikers walking the circuit in the traditional counterclockwise direction, but would be just as useful for those hiking in the clockwise direction.

Red boats on the shore of Lac Champex

Those who choose to hike clockwise will start in the pretty town on Champex.

Weather

Mountain weather is always volatile, and the Tour du Mont Blanc is no different. Conditions can change very rapidly in the Alps, meaning that you can find yourself in the middle of a whiteout blizzard or on an exposed ridge during a thunderstorm without much warning. For the most part, the weather during the hiking season is ridiculously lovely. Expect warm, sunny days, cool evenings, and not too much rain. However, you also need to be prepared for very hot temperatures, very cold temperatures, rain, and storms (and you could even see all of these in the same day!)  Getting caught high up in the mountains during a storm or without the right gear is extremely dangerous, but you can greatly minimize your risk by taking a few important precautions:

  1. The Meteoblue App is arguably the best resource for predicting the weather. It allows you to see the forecast for specific peaks or coordinates, plus it has excellent radar displays and wind predictions. Check it every time you have cell service.
  2. Start hiking early in the day! Not only will you enjoy gorgeous sunrises, get to the campground before the crowds, and avoid the heat, but you’ll also greatly reduce your risk of getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms.

Gray clouds partially obscure the mountains on the TMB.

Weather can change quickly on the trail!

 

Food and Drink

One of the many wonderful things about the TMB is that you don’t need to worry about carrying (and eating) eleven days’ worth of underwhelming freeze-dried backpacker meals. Due to the fact that the trail passes through many towns and villages, you will be able to resupply every few days. We’ve noted the availability of shops and restaurants at every stop along the route in our stage-by-stage camping guide below. Make sure you plan accordingly, as there are not shops at every stage.

For budget travelers, it is possible to self-cater and keep your food and drink costs quite reasonable. You’ll need to bring your own camp stove and cooking equipment if you plan on fixing most of your own meals along the TMB. 

Additionally (for those with deeper pockets), many of the hotels, gites, and refuges sell meals and offer the option of purchasing meals. You can just show up for lunch, but you’ll need to order ahead of time for dinner.

Whichever way you approach your food and drink strategy, we think you’ll find that trekking in the Alps is every bit as much a culinary delight as a natural one! 

Dietary Restrictions

The restaurants and accommodation providers along the TMB are generally quite willing to provide a vegetarian option. Those who are vegan, gluten-free, or have a specialized diet will have a harder time finding suitable meals. While certain places will be able to accommodate your needs, that will be the exception and not the norm. We’d recommend bringing plenty of your own food as insurance.  

Water

All of the hotels, gites, and campgrounds provide potable water. You will pass through many villages with public drinking fountains, but make sure to plan ahead and carry 1-2 liters of water each day. Due to the presence of agricultural activity near large swaths of the trail, we do not recommend drinking any water from natural streams without filtering it first.

Bread, cheese, fruit, and a bottle of wine.

Who says self-catering can’t be delicious?

 

Ready to start planning? Let us create your custom itinerary!

LEARN MORE

Getting to and from the TMB

The circular nature of the Tour du Mont Blanc keeps logistical puzzles to a minimum, as you’ll start and end your hike in the same place. This makes it easier to store extra baggage and book round-trip transport to and from the trail. If you are travelling from further afield to reach the TMB, you will likely fly into the Geneva Airport (GVA). Depending on where you plan on starting your hike, you’ll either take a bus from GVA to Chamonix or a train/bus combination  from GVA to Champex.

We wrote an entire article with the sole purpose of providing you with in-depth information on TMB logistics. Check it out here! 

The bus stop in Les Houches, surrounded by pink flowers.

The worlds prettiest bus stop? This one in Les Houches has got to be a top contender!

 

Wayfinding

For the most part, the TMB is an extremely well-marked trail. You’ll see a variety of trail markers along various sections of the route, ranging from the iconic yellow and black diamond to the more modern bright green TMB logo. Generally speaking, if you go more than twenty minutes without seeing a trail marker, you’ve probably wandered off the trail. Despite its helpful paint flashes and signage, it is still surprisingly easy to get lost on the TMB if you’re not careful. The scenery is so darn pretty that it will often draw your eyes away from the path and cause you to miss a turn. That’s why carrying a map and (preferably) a GPS device is of the utmost importance. This is even more true if you plan on camping, as many of the campgrounds require you to leave the trail to access them.

No fancy GPS device? No problem! In this post we’ll walk you through exactly how to turn your regular old smartphone into a bonafide GPS– and you don’t need to use your precious data to do so!

Additionally, check out this post on how to find all of your campgrounds on the TMB and this one if you want to see our range of helpful maps and/or download the GPS waypoints for the hike.

Screenshot of GPS locations on a smartphone

You can easily turn your smartphone into a handy GPS device for the trail!

 

Budgeting and Money

Cash or Credit?

While an increasing number of accommodation providers, shops, and other services are beginning to accept credit cards, cash is still the primary payment method used along the TMB. It is important to carry enough cash to cover all of your expenses for several days, as  ATMs are infrequent along the trail. Check out our stage-by-stage guide (later in this post) for availability of ATMs on specific stages. 

Currency

The TMB crosses the borders of three different countries, meaning that you’ll need to switch from using Euros in France to Swiss Francs in Switzerland then back to Euros upon entering Italy. While most places in Switzerland will accept Euros, you’ll be better off using Francs if you can. 

Typical Costs

Although it has the reputation for being one of the more expensive and luxurious thru-hikes, it is still very possible to hike the TMB on a tight budget (camping helps tremendously with this!) Furthermore, you can even eat delicious foods and drink some tasty beverages without breaking the bank.

The two keys to saving money on the TMB? Lodging and food.

Since you’ve found this camping guide, you’re well on your way to having the first one covered. Camping will save you boatloads of money, and you’ll have a better experience too!

In terms of food, the best thing you can do is to avoid eating meals at restaurants and refuges. Sure, stop for a coffee and a pastry, enjoy a post-hike beer, and definitely pick up some local cheese, but if you cook your own meals you will greatly, greatly reduce your overall spending.

Check out this thorough post in which we break down exactly what you can expect to pay for food, accommodation, transportation, and more. 

Hikers take in the views from the top of a pass on the TMB

Fortunately, the best parts of the TMB-like the sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching the top of a pass- are completely free!

What to Pack

Packing for the TMB is balancing act between ensuring you have everything you need and ensuring you don’t feel like you’re giving a piggyback ride to a small elephant for 100+ miles. This is especially true for campers, as you’ll have a more extensive packing list and the stakes are a bit higher if you neglect to bring something essential.

For a complete packing list, check out this article.

How much should my pack weigh?

This isn’t easy to answer, since there are a ton of factors that influence how much is too much for any individual hiker. Some things to think about…

  • How fast are you hoping to hike? Generally speaking, lighter=faster
  • Have you completed a multi-day through hike with this specific backpack and this amount of weight before? If not, you should really try to keep it below 25lbs (including water!) 
  • Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues? If so, you need to make sure that backpack is below 20lbs!

Did you know we can help you create the perfect packing list? Learn more here!

LEARN MORE
Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for preventing baby-elephant piggyback syndrome:

  1. You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Before you write us off as total dirtbags, hear us out. First, you’ll have plenty of time and sunshine to wash and dry laundry (and we actually find it to be quite a fun camp chore). Second, clothes are heavy, so cutting out everything but the absolute essentials will make a huge difference.
  2. Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need.
  3. Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.

If you have other travel destinations before or after the TMB, you can store your extra luggage in Chamonix. See our logistics article for more on this. 

Caution sign showing a person falling off a cliff.

This poor fellow didnt follow our packing advice….

 

TMB MVG (Most Valuable Gear)

Footwear on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Traditional hiking boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners will all work for the trail conditions on the TMB, but you need to make sure they will work for you too. This means that you should bring a pair of boots or shoes that you know from experience don’t cause problems for your feet. Ideally, you should put at least 30 miles on them in various terrain and weather conditions to reduce the chance of running into issues on the trail. A nasty blister can be catastrophic on a multi-day trek like the TMB! That being said, you also don’t want your boots/shoes to be too broken in, as you need them to hold up faithfully for many miles of gnarly terrain. I know we’re asking you to work some Goldilocks magic here, but it’s definitely worth it!

In terms of other specifications, we feel that the only other must-have is a good, grippy vibrum (or similar material) sole for steep descents and loose paths. Otherwise it’s up to personal preference when it comes to how much ankle support you need, waterproof versus quick-dry, sturdy versus lightweight, and so on.

You’ll also want to make sure you have some good socks. Socks are one of those rare things in life where you really do get what you pay for, and high quality socks can be a game changer. Once again, try to do some hiking in a few different types to figure out how what you like in terms of thickness, cushion, and height. We love merino wool for its quick-drying and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister prone, consider trying sock liners. Many hikers swear by them. Other tried-and-true blister prevention tactics include putting bodyglide on potential hotspots or wearing toesocks.

Trekking Poles

BRING THEM. Enough said. Seriously, these are a total game-changer on a tough trek like the TMB. You (and your knees) will be so glad to have them on steep sections, and this is especially true for campers who are carrying heavier loads.

Hikers making their way down to the Vallee de l'Arve.

Big shout out to our trekking poles and pack covers!

 

Backpack

The same rule for shoes applies to backpacks: make sure you complete several hikes with your bag packed the same way (and same weight) you’ll carry on the TMB. Also similar to shoes, backpacks need to be broken in through use, and your body needs to get used to the feeling of wearing it for extended periods of time. In terms of size, most campers will need between 45 and 65 liters. If you’re purchasing a new one, most good outdoors stores have experienced staff that will help you find the right fit and style for your needs.

Don’t forget to bring a pack cover (included with many newer backpacks) to protect against rain. This is an absolute must-have.

Battery Backup

If you plan on using your phone as a GPS to navigate along the TMB (which we highly recommend!), it’s imperative that it stays charged. Many campgrounds will allow you to charge electronics, but this isn’t a guarantee everywhere. Carrying a small battery backup or one of these nifty portable solar panels will give you a little more freedom and peace of mind. In our guide, we’ve noted the availability of electronics charging along every stage.

A few other MVG honorable mentions…

Puffy down jacket: Lightweight, warm, packable and all you need (it’s not necessary to bring a heavy fleece, too).

Kev Reynolds’ Ciccerone Guide to the TMB: An excellent resource.

Don’t forget to check out our complete packing list for the TMB here.  Additionally, if you’re on a tight budget, be sure to take a look at this article for backpacking gear hacks to save you money.

Electronics

Charging

Many campgrounds and other accommodation along the route will allow you to charge your devices for free, although there is some variation in terms of availability from place to place. See our guide for specific information on each stage. We recommend using a multi-port USB adapter, as outlets can be in high demand. If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll need a travel adapter. Thankfully, you’ll use the same adapter in all three countries along the route.

Cell Service

Cell phone service is pretty widespread along the Tour du Mont Blanc, but it isn’t always reliable or predictable. Expect to get service in all of the larger towns, but less so as you go further from civilization. You might be able to pick up a few bars at high points and unobstructed areas (like the top of a mountain pass), but definitely don’t count on it.

Wifi

For better or worse, many of the campgrounds along the TMB now offer Wifi. It’s typically free to use, although some places may require an additional fee. You’ll usually have to move close to the reception building in order to connect to it. The mountain refuges (and most gites) along the TMB do not offer wifi, but it is commonplace at all hotels.

Hikers sitting in chairs and enjoying the views outside Refuge de la Flegere

No wifi? No problem! The views and camaraderie provide more than enough entertainment along the TMB.

 

Wild Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Wild camping along the TMB is complicated and discouraged (and often illegal). The trail passes through three countries and several local municipalities, each with their own specific rules and regulations. Generally speaking, wild camping may be allowed in France at high altitudes between sunset and sunrise, it may be permitted above 2,500 meters (from dusk until dawn) in Italy, and it is strictly forbidden in Switzerland. This website has helpful information on the specific legal codes for each country.

The good news is that there are many official campsites that are easily accessible along the TMB. While not entirely cheap, we feel it is important to use these facilities whenever they are available in order to give respect to the local communities and the fragile natural environment. Furthermore, there are quite a few opportunities to pitch your tent in free sanctioned wild and semi-wild camp spots along the TMB (see the guide below for specific details). If you choose to wild camp outside of these areas, set up after dusk, pack up at dawn, and utilize leave no trace practices.

Wildflowers on stage 4 of the TMB

This might look like an ideal place to camp, but it’s definitely not legal!

40 Comments on Guide to Camping on the Tour of Mont Blanc

How to navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc | GPS Maps

We often get questions from readers asking how we navigated during our TMB trip. Did you buy maps? Was the trail hard to find? What about finding all the various…

We often get questions from readers asking how we navigated during our TMB trip. Did you buy maps? Was the trail hard to find? What about finding all the various campgrounds that you stayed at? This post will explain exactly how we navigated on the TMB, show you how to use some of the awesome tools that we employed on our trip, and even provide some custom resources for those using our Guide to Camping on the Tour of Mont Blanc as well as anyone looking for a custom Tour du Mont Blanc map solution. Let’s get started.

Tour du Mont Blanc Map with alternate routes shown.
The Tour du Mont Blanc circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif.

7 Comments on How to navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc | GPS Maps

Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List

Making smart choices about what to pack (and what to leave behind) is a vital part of setting yourself up for a successful and enjoyable Tour du Mont Blanc experience….

Making smart choices about what to pack (and what to leave behind) is a vital part of setting yourself up for a successful and enjoyable Tour du Mont Blanc experience. It’s simple- the heavier your pack, the harder your effort. However, with a little thoughtful planning, you can keep your pack weight manageable while still ensuring you have everything you need to be comfortable on the trail and while relaxing at the refuges, campgrounds, and villages along the way.  

Crossing a snow field on the TMB

You’ll need to be prepared for everything from sunshine to snow fields!

 

Below you’ll find a detailed Tour du Mont Blanc packing list that will provide you with great, trail-tested gear that won’t weigh down your backpack too much. This list reflects our personal packing list which will vary for each individual’s specific needs. However, this should serve as a great starting point for planning your own TMB adventure!

LEARN MORE
 

 

Tour du Mont Blanc Packing Basics

There are limitless ways to hike the TMB; you can customize the length of your trek, your accommodation preferences, your meal options, and so much more. Your Tour du Mont Blanc packing list will need to be tailored to your individual itinerary and needs. Someone who is using a luggage transfer service and staying in refuges will have a significantly different kit than someone who is carrying all of their own camping gear and cooking their own meals. Despite all of this variability, there are a few basic truths about packing for the Tour du Mont Blanc that apply to everyone. These include:

  1. Keep your backpack as light as possible! (see the next section for more on this)
  2. It is essential to dial in your footwear.
  3. Bring hiking poles and learn how to use them prior to your TMB trek.

Hiker on the TMB.

Don’t forget to bring a good pack cover for stormy days like this one.

 

How much should my pack weigh?

This isn’t easy to answer, since there are a ton of factors that influence how much is too much for any individual hiker. Some things to think about…

  • How fast are you hoping to hike? Generally speaking, lighter=faster
  • Have you completed a multi-day through hike with this specific backpack and this amount of weight before? 
  • Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues? 

As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying in refuges should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 18kg, and your daypack shouldn’t exceed 4kg. If you are backpacking for the first time or have a chronic injury, the weight of your pack should be significantly less than these guidelines.

Need help with your itinerary? We’ll create a custom trip plan just for you!

Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for lightening your load:

  1. You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Before you write us off as total dirtbags, hear us out. First, you’ll have plenty of time and sunshine to wash and dry laundry. Second, clothes are heavy, so cutting out everything but the absolute essentials will make a huge difference.
  2. Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need.
  3. Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.

Hiking boots

Your trusty boots are one of your most important pieces of gear.

 

Footwear on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Traditional hiking boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners will all work for the trail conditions on the TMB, but you need to make sure they will work for you too. This means that you should bring a pair of boots or shoes that you know from experience don’t cause problems for your feet. Ideally, you should put at least 30 miles on them in various terrain and weather conditions to reduce the chance of running into issues on the trail. A nasty blister can be catastrophic on a multi-day trek like the TMB! That being said, you also don’t want your boots/shoes to be too broken in, as you need them to hold up faithfully for many miles of gnarly terrain. I know we’re asking you to work some Goldilocks magic here, but it’s definitely worth it!

In terms of other specifications, we feel that the only other must-have is a good, grippy vibrum (or similar material) sole for steep descents and loose paths. Otherwise it’s up to personal preference when it comes to how much ankle support you need, waterproof versus quick-dry, sturdy versus lightweight, and so on.

You’ll also want to make sure you have some good socks. Socks are one of those rare things in life where you really do get what you pay for, and high quality socks can be a game changer. Once again, try to do some hiking in a few different types to figure out how what you like in terms of thickness, cushion, and height. We love merino wool for its quick-drying and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister prone, consider trying sock liners. Many hikers swear by them. Other tried-and-true blister prevention tactics include putting bodyglide on potential hotspots or wearing toesocks.

Trekking Poles

BRING THEM. Enough said. Seriously, these are a total game-changer on a tough trek like the TMB. You (and your knees) will be so glad to have them on steep sections, and this is especially true for campers who are carrying heavier loads.

Backpacking backpack

The type of pack you’ll need for the TMB will depend on your individual itinerary.

 

Backpack

The same rule for shoes applies to backpacks: make sure you complete several hikes with your bag packed the same way (and with the same weight) you’ll carry on the TMB. Also similar to shoes, backpacks need to be broken in through use, and your body needs to get used to the feeling of wearing it for extended periods of time. In terms of size, most campers will need between 45 and 65 liters. Those staying in refuges will find that 30-40L is perfect. If you’re purchasing a new one, most good outdoors stores have experienced staff that will help you find the right fit and style for your needs.

Don’t forget to bring a pack cover (included with many newer backpacks) to protect against rain. This is an absolute must-have.

Battery Backup

If you plan on using your phone as a GPS to navigate along the TMB (which we highly recommend!), it’s imperative that it stays charged. Most accommodation providers will allow you to charge electronics, but this isn’t a guarantee everywhere. Carrying a small battery backup or one of these nifty portable solar panels will give you a little more freedom and peace of mind.

Cell phones charging

Charging electronics can get a little crazy on the TMB.

 

Puffy down jacket

We’ve found this to be a perfect piece of gear for the Tour du Mont Blanc. It can be quite chilly in the Alps in the early morning and evenings, but a heavy fleece or bulky jacket can really sabotage a lightweight pack. Down jackets are warm, super packable, and very lightweight. Besides a light waterproof rain jacket, this is the only outer layer you should need.

Guidebook

The Ciccerone Guide to the TMB is an excellent resource for anyone planning a TMB trek. This thorough guide covers everything from the history of the hike to interesting sights you’ll see along the way, and of course provides a comprehensive breakdown of every stage. It is also available as an e-book, meaning you can download it to your phone to really optimize your packing!

We also love Trailblazer’s Tour du Mont Blanc Guide. It is incredibly detailed and has great resources for finding accommodation and other services at every point along the trail. Plus, it was just updated in 2019, so it’s the most current guidebook on the market right now. In our opinion, the Ciccerone guide feels more organized and easy-to-navigate, while the Trailblazer guide has more in-depth and comprehensive information. The bottom line? You can’t go wrong with either, and you’ll be glad to have at least one of these great resources!

Camping-Specific Gear

If you plan on camping along the TMB, there’s a lot more gear you need to think about than just your hiking basics. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered! 

Use this camping gear list in conjunction with the personal items list, miscellaneous list, and men’s or women’s clothing list to put together your perfect Tour du Mont Blanc packing list. 

Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. We love the flexibility and independence it gives us, and many of the campgrounds are downright luxurious. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the TMB with your own tent. 

 

Tent at Le Peuty Campground

Camping ensures you’ll always get a room with a view!

 

Most valuable piece of camping gear: Nemo Astro Sleeping Pad

Confession: This was the third sleeping pad I purchased in a three year quest to find the right fit. Until I got the Nemo, I just assumed it wasn’t possible to get a good night’s sleep while camping. Not only do I sleep warm (thanks to its 20 degree insulation) and comfortably, but this is also one of the most compact and lightweight options out there. It’s relatively quick to inflate and a breeze to pack away. A good night’s rest and extra space in my backpack make this my favorite piece of camping gear. Check it out here:

ItemOur recommended gear 
TentSierra Designs - Clip Flashlight 2
or
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
The Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 is the best budget tent on the market, while the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 is the best overall tent you can buy.
Sleeping bagMarmot Trestle 30A 30° F or 0° C sleeping bag should keep you plenty warm on the TMB.
Sleeping pad Nemo Astro Insulated Sleeping PadIf you are a side sleeper this is a must! Even if you're not, this is one of the most lightweight and comfortable sleeping pads out there.
PillowTherm-a-Rest pillowA camping pillow can be great when you're spending 10+ nights sleeping in a tent, but this is an optional item for those looking to save weight.
StoveMSR Pocket Rocket StoveIan has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking potGSI HaluliteFor those planning to cook their own meals this pot will serve you well.
UtensilsMSR Deep Dish plate , MSR Stainless Steel mugHumangear Spork Best $4 you will ever spend!
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-person mess kitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.

 

Want more info on trekking the TMB with a tent? Be sure to check out our amazing Camping Guide!

GET YOUR CAMPING GUIDE NOW!
 

Refuge-Specific Gear

If you’re planning on sleeping in mountain refuges and hotels along the TMB, you can enjoy the benefit of a shorter packing list! This list has a few items you’ll need specifically for sleeping in gites and refuges. While you don’t need much, there are some essentials that you’ll be glad to have for these communal accommodation situations. Use this list in conjunction with the other lists (except for the camping gear list) to ensure that you’re well prepared for your TMB adventure. 

Note: there are some repeats on this list that we’ve also included on the other lists. However, we wanted to highlight items on this list that are especially important for anyone who is staying primarily in refuges. 

Read more: TMB Accommodation and Refuge Guide

Rifugio Bonatti

 

Most valuable item for Refuges: Mack’s Earplugs

Getting quality sleep is so important for your body to feel recovered and fresh on a long-distance trek. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to sleep well in the dorm-style sleeping arrangements commonly found in TMB refuges. Being packed like sardines into a room full of Olympic level snorers doesn’t have to ruin your night though! It’s amazing what a difference some good earplugs can make. We find that we sleep much more soundly with these comfortable, effective earplugs. They’re a huge step up from those cheap foam ones- these stay in place and block out way more noise. Sometimes the little things can make the biggest difference! Check them out here:

ItemOur recommended gear 
EarplugsMack's EarplugsThe perfect defense for that snorer next door!
Sleeping maskAlaska Bear Sleeping MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in refuges.
Sleep sheetVumos Sleep SheetRequired in most of the refuges along the TMB.
Sandals/SlippersCrocsWhile not the most stylish, Crocs make the perfect refuge shoes!

 

Now that you know what to pack, do you know where to go? Let us help you design your perfect trip! LEARN MORE

 

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for the TMB. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this hike, we’ve left it up to you to determine your personal list of additional self care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc). 

Use this list in conjunction with the camping gear list OR refuge list, and the miscellaneous and clothing lists to build your perfect kit. 

Most valuable personal item: Black Diamond Trekking Poles 

We absolutely love our Black Diamond poles for their lightweight design and durability. I can’t imagine tackling some of the steep, loose sections of the TMB without my trusty poles! The make a significant different in our perceived effort on tough climbs and descents, and they’ve saved me (a serious klutz) from falling countless times! Their telescoping feature makes them easy to pack away for international flights. Check them out here:

ItemOur recommended gear 
Multi-toolGerber Suspension Multi-PlierPerfect for cutting cheese and bread!
First-aid kitAdventure Medical KitsA good backpacking first aid kit is essential. You hope to never have to use it, but will be glad you have it when you need it.
Camel BakPlatypus 3L Hydration BladderWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3 liter version.
Small day-packCotopaxi Luzon 18L DaypackOptional item that is great for walking around town and hiking up to Lac Blanc!
Pack-coverSea to Summit Pack coverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the TMB! The best pack-cover we've ever used.
Men's backpackOsprey Atmos 65LWhile backpacks are a very personal item, we find Osprey to make by far the most comfortable packs on the market.
Women's backpackOsprey Aura 65LOne of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the 'anti-gravity' mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking polesBlack Diamond Trail Trekking PolesEssential for long downhills!
Travel towelSea to Summit Drylite TowelGreat to have in huts and campsite showers.
HeadlampBlack Diamond Storm HeadlampGreat headlamp with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry bagsSea to Summit Ultra-Sil dry bagsKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour!
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Toilet paperAs any hiker will tell you, it's always better to be prepared! Plus, not all of the bathrooms you'll find along the TMB provide toilet paper.

 

Interested in camping on the TMB? Our in-depth guide makes it easy!

LEARN MORE

 

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heros of the TMB packing list. From getting your stinky shirt clean to keeping your phone charged, these items help your trek run smoothly. Make sure to use this list in addition to the other categories to complete your personal Tour du Mont Blanc packing list. 

Most valuable miscellaneous gear: Anker Powercore 10000.

Chances are, you’re getting out on the trail to get a break from the constant demands of screens and technology and that’s wonderful. However, don’t underestimate the importance of having a charged cell phone on the TMB. Your phone can be your navigational device, your camera, your guidebook, and your notepad all in one. Charging opportunities can be unreliable along the route, so a battery backup can be an absolute lifesaver. This one is dependable, relatively small, and can fully charge your phone 1.5-2 times. Check it out here:

ItemOur recommended gear 
GuidebookThe Tour of Mont Blanc: Complete two-way trekking guideA must-have resource
EarplugsMack's EarplugsEssential for sleeping in huts!
Sleeping maskAlaska Bear Sleeping MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in refuges or campgrounds.
Travel adapterAll-in-one Travel AdapterGreat for all of your travels.
Digital watchCasio digital watchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times.
CameraSony a5100 mirrorless cameraOptional item for the photography lovers. Consider using your phone to save weight.
Battery backupAnker PowerCore 10000Great for charging electronics when you don't have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable soapSierra Dawn Campsuds Outdoor SoapPerfect for doing the dishes or washing a few clothing items.
Plastic Bags- quart, gallon, and garbage bags. We used these constantly for everything from storing trail mix to keeping our sleeping bags dry. A must-have for backpacking.

 

Courmayeur

It’s an added bonus if you can pack clothes that will work both on the trail and in town.

 

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for nearly two weeks in various weather conditions and while doing some serious trekking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring. This list is also a handy (and experience-backed) guideline for quantities of items such as shirts and socks. 

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Ex officio underwear

Perhaps this may seem like a strange choice for my favorite piece of gear, but it truly was a game changer for me on the TMB. As a woman, I’ve found it to be so annoyingly difficult to find good quality, comfortable underwear designed for outdoor sports and travel. And not that it should matter, but most of the ones that do exist are extremely ugly. Ex officio changed all that for me. I love the “hipkini” variety because they provide full coverage and stay in place while still being low profile under shorts, pants and even leggings. What’s even more amazing is that you can rinse them out at the end of each day and they’ll be totally fresh and dry by morning. This makes it so you can get away with packing just a few pairs. Check them out here:

ItemOur recommended gear 
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Women's UnderwearVery packable and easy to wash on the go!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Micro Crew SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports BraBrooks Women's Rebound Racer Sports BraThis is the most versatile, comfortable, and high-quality sports bra that Emily has found on the market.
Long sleeve base layer (1)Smartwool Women's NTS Mid 250 CrewA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings.
Short sleeve hiking shirt (3)Smartwool Women's Merino Short SleeveMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pantsprAna - Women's Halle Roll-upStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Running shorts (1 pair)Lululemon Run Speed ShortsThese shorts are so comfortable, packable, and quick-drying, that Emily didn't even feel the need to buy hiking-specific shorts.
Down jacketPatagonia Down SweaterLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain jacketOutdoor Research Helium II JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Rain pantsColumbia Storm Surge pantsFor those heavy downpours!
Hiking bootsKeen Targhee II Mid Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSuncloud Loveseat Polarized SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you're in the mountains all day. And these are stylish too!
Basic black dressColumbia Women's PG Freezer III DressFor the nights we went out to dinner in town, it was nice to have one non-hiking outfit. This comfortable, versatile dress was easy to pack and worked great.
Underwire/standard braAfter a long day of hiking in a sweaty sports bra this can be a welcome relief to change into.
GlovesSmartwool Liner GlovesPerfect for cold evenings and mountain passes.
HatHeadsweats Performance Trucker HatHelps keep the alpine sun off your face.
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco Z1Super comfortable around camp with great support.
BandanaIs everything from a towel to extra sun protection.

 

Men’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for nearly two weeks in various weather conditions and while doing some serious trekking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials.

Ian’s most valuable clothing item: Smart wool T-shirt. 

After years of hiking and traveling in synthetic tech tees, switching to Merino wool was a major upgrade. Like synthetic materials, Merino is quick-drying and moisture-wicking, but unlike the synthetic materials I can hike in it for days without any funky smells. Plus, I find it to be more comfortable and stylish, since it looks just like a normal t-shirt. This was convenient for times when I wanted to wear it off the trail. Smart wool makes an all around great shirt that is well worth the price. Check it out here:

ItemOur recommended gear 
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long sleeve base layer (1)Smartwool Men's NTS Mid 250 CrewVery versatile mid-weight base layer
Short sleeve hiking shirt (1)SmartSmartwool Men's Merino Short Sleeve shirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking pants (1)Prana Brion pantsThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking shorts (1)Prana Brion Hiking ShortsAwesome shorts that are great for hiking.
Down jacketPatagonia Down Sweater HoodySuper warm, and super packable
Rain jacketOutdoor Research Men's Helium II JacketA good rain jacket is a must!
GlovesSmartwool Merino Wool Liner Gloves Perfect for cold evenings and mountain passes.
Rain pantsMarmot Precip PantsFor those heavy downpours!
HatHeadsweats Performance Trucker HatHelps keep the alpine sun off your face.
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco Z1 sandalsSuper comfortable around camp with great support.
Hiking bootsSalomon Men's X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking BootSuper comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSuncloud Mayor Polarized SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you're in the mountains all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaIs everything from a towel to extra sun protection.

 

LEARN MORE
 

Like this post? Pin it for later!

Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List

 

Keep Reading

Be sure to check out all of our Tour du Mont Blanc posts below.

If you’re looking for one-on-one support in preparing for the Tour du Mont Blanc, we can help! Learn more about our personalized TMB coaching services. 

 

6 Comments on Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List

Personalized TMB Coaching

  If you’re looking for one-on-one support in preparing for the Tour du Mont Blanc, we can help! We use our passion, experience, and knowledge of the TMB to assist…

 

If you’re looking for one-on-one support in preparing for the Tour du Mont Blanc, we can help! We use our passion, experience, and knowledge of the TMB to assist fellow hikers who want to have their best possible trek.

Who’s it For?

There is a TON of information out there about the Tour du Mont Blanc, so it isn’t absolutely necessary to work with a coach. However, if you don’t want to spend hours combing through books and online resources, a coach can provide you with all of the targeted, individualized information you’ll need while saving you tons of time. Additionally, if you feel anxious about the uncertainties that come with an undertaking like the TMB, working with a coach can help you feel more mentally prepared. Finally, if you have any specific needs, in terms of fitness, diet, budget, or travel logistics, a coach can provide customized advice and solutions.

What We Offer:

While all coaching packages can be customized to fit your individual needs, our basic package includes the following:

  • 30-minute Skype Consultation: Getting to know you, your goals for the trip, what you’d like to get out of working with a coach, and answering any trip-related questions.
  • Itinerary Planning Assistance: We’ll work with you to put together the best itinerary based on how many days you plan on hiking, how much distance you want to cover each day, incorporating a rest day, information on camping, etc.
  • Gear Consultation: We’ll work with to create a custom packing list that minimizes the weight you’ll need to carry, while meeting your specific needs and incorporating the gear you already own.
  • Custom Training Plan: We’ll help you develop a comprehensive and individualized approach to build your fitness and reduce the risk of injury so you can enjoy your trek to the fullest. We will also provide local hike recommendations in your area and give you a breakdown of how they compare to various stages of the TMB.

Price: $100 USD

Why Choose Us?

Both Emily and Ian have many years of backpacking and hiking experience on some of the world’s most iconic trails. We’ve tackled long and short treks in New Zealand, Europe, Namibia, as well as countless adventures in our own Rocky Mountain backyard. Additionally, Emily is a seasoned marathon runner and track coach and Ian is an avid mountain biker, which means we have a good understanding of how to train for endurance events.  As spreadsheet nerds, we have a knack for detailed planning and logistics. Being  stewards of TMBtent.com has allowed us to become very well-versed in all things TMB, and we are continually engaged in deepening our knowledge base. Finally, we truly believe that hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc is a life-changing experience, and we want to help as many people get on the trail and share in that joy.  We work with people from all backgrounds, ages, and ability levels, and we will meet you wherever you’re at with no judgement, only excitement and support.

If you’re ready to get started, fill out the form below and you’ll hear from us soon!

TMB Coaching Inquiry

No Comments on Personalized TMB Coaching

How Much It Cost Us to Hike the Tour du Mont Blanc

At first glance, the Tour du Mont Blanc might seem physically daunting, but many might find it even more financially intimidating. Traversing three Western European countries and staying in the…

At first glance, the Tour du Mont Blanc might seem physically daunting, but many might find it even more financially intimidating. Traversing three Western European countries and staying in the many “quaint” (read: pricey) resort towns along the way? Buying enough food to fuel yourself through day after day of long miles on the trail? Doesn’t seem cheap, does it?

The beautiful thing about the TMB, however, is that it’s pretty much up to you how expensive you want to make it. There are hikers who choose to spend more to take guided tours, stay in private rooms at upscale hotels and huts, and buy all of their meals at restaurants along the way. Others take the extremely frugal route, camping as much as possible, cooking their own meals, and minimizing expenses wherever they can.

We tend to travel on the frugal side, as we enjoy the simplicity and authentic experiences that go hand in hand with this type of travel. That being said, we’re not claiming the most hardcore budget travelers out there; we certainly allow ourselves to indulge in things that bring value to our experience, such as a post-hike beer or a hotel room on our rest day.

Looking to plan your perfect TMB? See how we can help!

LEARN MORE

Below we’ve outlined what we spent on our Tour du Mont Blanc adventure. We hope that by sharing this information, our fellow hikers will be able to plan and budget more accurately for their own trip. Additionally, you might find that an experience like the TMB is more within reach than you originally thought, if you just make a few intentional decisions when planning your travel. So grab your tent and get out there!

Refuge du Col de Balme.

Accommodation

We chose to camp as much as possible along the Tour du Mont Blanc and we highly recommend it to others for a number of reasons. First, many of the campgrounds were quite luxurious, with amenities such as hot showers and wifi. We also preferred the privacy of our tent versus the dorm-style sleeping arrangements of the huts. Sleeping outdoors in such spectacular alpine surroundings became a highlight of our trip. And of course, the price of camping can’t be beat! There are a few places along the TMB where there are no official campgrounds and wild camping is not permitted. For those situations, we opted to stay in the mountain huts, which offered amazing ambiance and delicious meals for a reasonable price. We also stayed in a hotel for our rest day in Courmayeur, which proved to be a wonderful treat after roughing it for so many days. Here’s a breakdown of our accommodation spending:

  • Average Hut Price: €54 (per person)
  • Average Campsite Price: €12 (per person)
  • Hotel in Chamonix for before and after the hike: €85 (per night)
  • Hotel in Courmayeur for rest day: €132 (per night)

Read more: TMB Accommodation and Refuge Guide

 

Interested in finding the best places to stay on the TMB? We can help by creating a custom itinerary for your trip!
LEARN MORE

Transit

  • Bus from Geneva to Chamonix: €43 (round trip)
  • Bus from Chamonix to Les Houches: €3 (each way)
  • Shuttle Bus from Les Chapieux to Refuge Des Mottets: €3

Flights:

We strategically used credit card points and miles in order to fly from Denver to Geneva for nearly free. Read more about how we did it here.

Airline Taxes and Fees: $98.63 + 60,000 United Airlines miles (per person)

Food and Drink

You may be backpacking through rugged mountains, but that doesn’t necessitate spending a small fortune on fancy freeze-dried meals. We preferred to stock up on lightweight, nutritious, and tasty dry goods from the local grocery stores to fuel us along the TMB. We tended to eat ramen noodles or local cheese, sausage, and bread for most dinners. For lunches, we snacked on a trail mix blend that we made from salted peanuts and raisins, which we purchased copious amounts of whenever we found them at reasonable prices along the route. For breakfast, we ate muesli with powdered milk and instant coffee. Occasionally, we’d pick up some fresh fruit from a local shop. These foods kept us feeling full throughout long days of hiking, and we found them to be more enjoyable than those space-age style backpacker meals. Plus, they were a fraction of the price!

On average, we spent about €8-€12 per person, per day on our food and drink.

Of course, we allowed ourselves a few treats along the way, too. Here’s what you can expect to pay, on average, for the following indulgences:

  • Beer: €6
  • Bottle of Wine: €10
  • Baguette: €2
  • Breakfast/Lunch Mountain Hut: €15
  • Dinner at Mountain Hut: €25
  • Coffee/Tea: €3
  • Sandwich: €10

Miscellaneous

As you can see, we happily teetered between dirtbag and deluxe on our TMB holiday. While there’s no escaping the high costs of some essentials, in general, one can experience the Tour du Mont Blanc on a modest budget (and enjoy some excellent wine and cheese while doing so). Obviously, you’ll also want to factor in the cost of hiking gear that you’ll need to purchase prior to setting off on your trek. Check out our packing list to get an idea of what you might need to purchase ahead of time. Also, our Backpacking Gear on a Budget article has some helpful ideas for keeping your costs low when putting together your backpacking kit. Whether you choose to splurge or keep it simple, we feel confident you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime.

What’s Next?

Ready to keep planning your TMB adventure? Be sure to read our entire series on the Tour du Mont Blanc to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for this incredible adventure!

If you’re looking for one-on-one support in preparing for the Tour du Mont Blanc, we can help! Learn more about what we offer. 

LEARN MORE

9 Comments on How Much It Cost Us to Hike the Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Logistics

Many of the small details of planning the Tour du Mont Blanc can end up being the biggest challenges. You probably know that crossing the Col du Bonhomme will be…

Many of the small details of planning the Tour du Mont Blanc can end up being the biggest challenges. You probably know that crossing the Col du Bonhomme will be difficult, but you might not be thinking as much about how you’ll get from the airport in Geneva to your hotel in Chamonix. We’ve put together the following post to help you tackle all of those tricky logistical items that are sure to arise when you’re planning your own TMB adventure.

What’s in this post?

 

Whether you prefer mountain huts or tents, fastpacking or meandering, luxury, dirtbag or something in between, we’ve got you covered.From custom itineraries to maps created specifically for campers we can help you plan your perfect TMB adventure! Learn more below:

LEARN MORE

Getting to Chamonix from the Geneva Airport

The vast majority of walkers will get to the start of the Tour du Mont Blanc by first flying into the Geneva Airport (GVA). There are frequent flights to Geneva from the rest of Europe as well as a good number of flights from the U.S. Most U.S. flights arrive early in the morning, leaving you with ample time to get to Chamonix that same day. Once you’ve landed in Geneva, you’ll have several options for getting to Chamonix, outlined below:

  • OuiBus – We found this to be the cheapest option and would highly recommend OuiBus. The service departs directly from the Geneva Airport and will take you to the Chamonix Sud bus station, in the heart of Chamonix.
  • AlpyBus – AlpyBus runs a door to door transfer service from the Geneva Airport to hotels in the Chamonix Valley. It is more costly than OuiBus, but also more convenient since they’ll drop you directly at your hotel (or campground!).
  • Mountain Drop-offs – Similar to AlpyBus, Mountain Drop-offs runs a door to door transfer service for walkers arriving in Geneva. Very highly rated.

All of the options above will also be able to transport you back to the Geneva Airport at the end of the TMB. Many also offer discounts for booking a return ticket.

Getting from Chamonix to Les Houches

Many walkers will opt to stay at least one night in Chamonix before and after hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc. While Les Houches is a lovely town, there is no denying that Chamonix has more services and certainly more accommodation options. Luckily, the Chamonix Valley has excellent public transportation linking the various villages, and it is a breeze to get to Les Houches and the start of the TMB from just about anywhere in the valley.

If you’re staying in Chamonix, you’ll want to make your way to the Chamonix Sud bus station. Busses depart from the Chamonix Sud bus station every 30 minutes for Les Houches. You can find updated service schedules on the Chamonix Bus website. Once in Les Houches, we recommend getting off at the ‘Les Houches Mairie’ stop located in the center of the village. The stop, located on the Rue de l’Essert, is directly on the TMB. To start you’ll just begin walking along the road through Les Houches!

After you’ve finished the TMB you’ll utilize the same bus to return to Chamonix (after a well-deserved beer, of course). Make sure to save enough cash to pay the bus fare on the way back, as there isn’t a ticket office near the bus stop.

Beautiful flowers adjacent to the ‘Les Houches Mairie’ stop

Where to stay before and after the TMB

If you’re using our Guide to Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc, you’ve surely got your tent packed up and ready to go. While you’ll be doing plenty of camping during your hike, you may enjoy sleeping in a hotel both before and after the TMB. There is nothing quite like a soft mattress and hot shower after 10 days of trekking! Below are some of the best accommodation options in the Chamonix Valley for before and after the TMB:

Chamonix

Hotel Le Morgaine – We stayed at this highly-reviewed hotel both before and after the TMB. We found the rooms to be spacious, the staff very friendly, and the location to be excellent. Room rates are also quite reasonable.

Auberge du Manoir – Known for their friendly staff, beautiful rooms, and great location, the Auberge du Manoir is a great option in Chamonix.

Hôtel Le Refuge des Aiglons – The Hotel Le Refuge des Aiglons is located adjacent to the Chamonix Sud bus station, making it an ideal location for the night you arrive in or before you depart Chamonix.

You can check out all the options in the Chamonix Valley here:



Booking.com

Les Houches

Hotel Les Campanules – Located just across the river from the town center of Les Houches, Hotel Les Campanules gets great reviews for its tremendous views and excellent food. It’s also a great budget option.

Rocky Pop Hotel – Located just outside of Les Houches, the Rocky Pop hotel has stellar reviews for its funky style and friendly staff.

Camping Bellevue – Of course we’d be remiss to not include the well-located campground in Les Houches, Camping Bellevue.

Airbnb

There are many different accommodation options available in the Chamonix Valley on Airbnb. You’ll find everything from luxurious chalets to rooms in a shared house. Airbnb’s often provide a kitchen and laundry facilities, which can be a welcome feature after hiking in the same two smelly outfits for the past 10 days! You can get $40 off your first Airbnb stay by registering here.

There are many stunning Airbnbs in the Chamonix Valley!

 

Read More: TMB Accommodation and Refuge Guide

Luggage storage

Many walkers will be traveling with more luggage than they might want to carry for the entire TMB. Unfortunately, there are no luggage storage facilities at the train station in Chamonix. The best option for walkers on the TMB is to store your extra baggage at the Gite le Chamoniard, which charges between 4-6 euros per day depending on the size of your bag. Other hotels and accommodation may store your baggage if you have a reservation before and after you walk, but you’ll want to inquire ahead of time.

The best option of course is to only pack what you need and avoid having to store anything extra!

Rest day options

Many walkers will split up the TMB by taking a rest day along the way. If you have the time, we highly recommend this option as it will give your body a break and also let you explore one of the wonderful villages or towns along the route. Here are your best options:

Courmayeur

Courmayeur is understandably the most popular place for a rest day on the TMB. While it isn’t exactly the halfway point, you’ll have already crossed several major passes and your feet may be begging for a break. Courmayeur is also the largest town you’ll encounter on the TMB, making for an easy place to stock up on supplies and enjoy a shower and bed. Our lodging recommendations for Courmayeur are below:

Hotel Maison La Saxe – One of the best hotels we’ve EVER stayed at, you can’t find a much better spot for a rest day than Maison La Saxe. Located just up the valley from Courmayeur, this small hotel offers an incredible breakfast spread and beautiful rooms. Book early as they only have six rooms!

Cresta Et Duc Hotel – Centrally located with free breakfast. What’s not to love?!

You can check out all the options in Courmayeur here:



Booking.com

La Fouly

La Fouly is past the halfway mark of the TMB, so naturally it makes a good rest day spot. The town is small so there won’t be as much to do as in Courmayeur, but it is a beautiful location nevertheless. Check out our favorite spot in La Fouly:

Maya Joie – A highly rated auberge with a variety of room types and free wi-fi.

Champex

Champex is a lovely Swiss town located on a pristine mountain lake. Most walkers will arrive in Champex at the end of their seventh day, and will be very ready for a break! Champex offers many services, accommodation options, and more to do than La Fouly. Our lodging recommendation for Chamex:

Hôtel du Glacier – Get a room with a balcony to enjoy the stunning views!

But wait…there’s more!

If you’re looking for one-on-one support in preparing for the Tour du Mont Blanc, we can help!

LEARN MORE
Be sure to check out our entire series on the Tour du Mont Blanc to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for this incredible adventure!

No Comments on Tour du Mont Blanc Logistics

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search