Location: France and Italy
Elevation: 4,808 meters
Mont Blanc, a French name for White Mountain, is considered the highest mountain in Europe and is eleventh in the world. The mountain’s summit is coated with thick perennial snow domes, while its base boasts four habitat zones that support rich biodiversity. Sitting between the border of France and Italy, the mountain also has the mile-long Mont Blanc highway tunnel connecting Chamonix, France, to Courmayeur, Italy.
The Mont Blanc massif sports popular classic outdoor activities like climbing and hiking, and claimed the fame to modern mountaineering in trail running, skiing and snowboarding. Its tourism attracts over six million visitors per year. The most popular trek is the Tour du Mont Blanc, covering 170 kilometers in the distance and 10,000 meters of ascent.
Get ready to hike through countries and get up close to one of the world’s most impressive ranges.
About the trek
The Tour de Mont Blanc trek is perfect for beginners who are reasonably fit. A comfortable pace would complete the trek for about ten days, but options for an adjustable route or length are also available. Trekkers will be crossing 17 towns, exploring different food and culture from various villages. You can also witness breathtaking views of glaciers, lakes, meadows, mountains, and diverse wildlife. Please note the high points like Fenêtred’Arpette and the Col des Fours as they allow you to see these views in all directions.
The trek is easy to navigate because signs are marked all over the trail. A particularly challenging part is to climb a series of ladders at the steep mountainside. Generally, you would not have to pack more than the essentials as nearby towns and villages sell everyday hiking necessities.
There are two accommodations you can choose from: Base Camps and Camping Out. Base Camps include full-service hotels, shared apartments, and dorm-style rooms with shared bathrooms along the trail. Camping out is a cheaper option, allowing you to bring your tent and pay a minimal fee.
When is the best time for the climb
The best time to climb using this route is in June or September. In these months, the weather is slightly cooler, and the towns are less crowded. The temperature would range from 8 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees celsius. If you do not mind hiking with more people in hotter weather, July and August are good months to go. During summer, Mont Blanc’s temperature can reach up to 22 degrees celsius and may have nasty thunderstorms in the afternoon. On the bright side, this season is attributed to the full bloom of the mountain flowers.
How long is the Tour du Mont Blanc
A guided tour is usually divided into four parts. Day one to day three will be in France, days four to five in Italy, and days six to seven in Switzerland, and the remaining days will be returning to France.
The trek will start at Les Houches, France. If you have extra time, take a side trip to the village’s nature spots or try ski. The second day will be your first experience of trekking to the Alps. Visitors will begin with a cable car ride to the mountains and a hike through the conifer forest and alpine hamlets after it. Two iconic mountain peaks – Aiguille de Bionnassay and the Dôme du Goûter – with massive glaciers between them highlight the place. Visitors will stay at the ancient village of Les Contamines for the rest of the night. This village is known for Patrice Dominguez Park, a popular place for swimming, tennis, horseback riding, and archery. The next leg of the trip begins with a shuttle ride to Notre Dame de la Gorge, then a route near Aiguille des Glaciers’ ice-covered peak. The day ends with a trip down the Chapieux Valley towards Bourg Saint Maurice, where visitors spend the night.
On day four, a shuttle from Bourg Saint Maurice to Ville des Glaciers will bring you to Italy. You will descend the lush alpine valley of Val Ferret situated at the country’s border. There is a bus ride from La Cantine de la Visaille to Courmayeur, the last stop for the day. Courmayeur is home to the best ski resorts in Italy and the best boutiques along the trail. You can shop for designer Italian brands as a classy souvenir to bring home.
Meanwhile, the Switzerland trek highlights the Swiss best-tasting wine in Champex village and the world-famous museum of Musée de La Fondation Pierre Giannada. You will reach the end of the trek at the Fenetred’Arpette, with an altitude of 2750 meters. Depending on the pace, you can circle back to France at the end of the day.
How much does the hike cost
A self-guided hike is cheaper and ranges around USD 50-70$ per day or about USD 1500$ for the whole tour. You will have to prepare an additional amount if you want to buy food from the villages. Guided tours cost $2000-$3000 USD but include meals, luggage transfers, and accommodation.