Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) The 105-mile is Europe’s most popular long-distance hiking trail and is considered one of the best walks in the world. More than 10,000 people make this trip every year. You will find a lot of information in this article, to help you understand what it takes, as well as to prepare for the Mont Blanc trek.
Adventure and Trekking in Mont Blanc
For hikers, Tour du Mont Blanc is the ultimate summer adventure. A 10-day loop that starts and ends in France, and passes through Italy and Switzerland along the way. It has covered 11 mountain passes, about 32,000 hikes.
Tour du Mont Blanc: King of the Alps
At 15,771 feet, it would be easy to attribute Mont Blanc’s nickname, Monarch of the Alps, to its size alone. The magic is as much about the rugged alpine landscape of about 400 peaks, 40 glaciers, seven valleys, and three countries as well as the height of the highest peak in Western Europe.
Although TMB stretches through three countries, it is the French alpine culture that dominates the circuit. French is the unofficial language of this trip. At the mountain hut, dinner is a casual, family-style event with a full table, soup and meat, and a raucous chant usually in French, like this: “Oui! Oui! Oui! “Screamed at one side of the dining room, and “Non! Non! Non!” Another scream. And so it went on and on and on until late into the night. Every night.
Trekking in Mont Blanc
The traditional approach to the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit is a counterclockwise hike that begins near the French mountaineering resort town of Chamonix. Most hikers go it alone and guided groups alike congregate in Chamonix before embarking on a real hike of about four miles in the valley in the village of Les Houches. From there you get a hiking trail. Col de Voza is your first high view of the Mont Blanc range.
Over the next 10 to 14 days, the journey will be challenging, mesmerizing, and enthralling in equal parts. It’s not easy by any measure, but almost anyone with a moderate level of fitness can do it. Fitness level, being the biggest factor in determining whether you are ready to travel in Mont Blanc.
If you’re worried about being in bad shape, getting lost, or carrying a backpack for nearly two weeks, the way to ease it all is to enlist the services of a clothing salesman as your travel guide.
Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures’ 10-day trip, $2,800 from July 7 to 16.
14-day REI Adventures trip, $3,150 with eight departure dates from June to September.
Mountain Travel Sobek 13-day, $3,490 trip with six departure dates from June to September.
Backroads’ nine-day, $3,498 ride with departures in July, August, and September respectively.
It’s important to look at what you’re getting, as opposed to what you want or need from your trip. Backroads, for example, targets travelers who want upscale accommodation and a relatively catered experience (there are more free days and leisurely walks built into the itinerary).
Mountain Travel Sobek includes day trips to and from Geneva as part of its “13-day” trip. Alpine hikers and Ryder-Walker take a more rugged approach to basic accommodation, all-day hikes, and simple but authentic food while providing a quality experience that will satisfy most experienced hikers.
Tour du Mont Blanc: The Right Time to Explore
The high season in the Alps is largely determined by the previous winter’s snow. This affects not only how much snow is on the ground at the highest altitudes, but also the strength of glacier runoff each summer.
Most guided outfitters start their trip around late June or early July, and this is when most do it yourself go as well. French summer holidays usually fall between July 15 and August 31. This is the busiest time on the trail and can make finding accommodation more difficult. So, the “best” times for the smallest crowds and the best weather are early July and early September.
The nearest international airport is Geneva. Transatlantic airfare always skyrockets in the summer months, so expect to pay around $600 to $1,000 round-trip from the East Coast for July or August departures. Chamonix is also accessible from anywhere on the Continent by train.
However you get there and whenever you leave, the Tour du Mont Blanc is an enjoyable experience.