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?
- Interactive Tour du Mont Blanc map
- How long is the Tour du Mont Blanc?
- What is the elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc?
- Which maps should I carry?
- Tour du Mont Blanc GPS/GPX
- Apps and offline mapping
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- Guide to Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc
- TMB Packing List
- Check out our Tour du Mont Blanc Store
- 10 Essentials for the Tour du Mont Blanc
- How to navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc
- How to find all of your campgrounds on the TMB
- How to train for the Tour of Mont Blanc
- How to hike the TMB for (nearly) free
- TMB Trip Report
- TMB Photo Gallery
- Tour du Mont Blanc Logistics
- How Much it Cost us to Hike the TMB