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Tour de Mont Blanc - France, Italy, Switzerland

Europe is known for valuing time together as a family, including engaging in many outdoor activities. With the Alps as a backyard there are exceptional opportunities to enjoy nature’s playground. In the winter, of course, they ski and in the warmth of summer, they hike. The beauty and grandeur of the Alps is evident in every quaint town that lies at its feet. The magnificence increases tenfold when viewed from their shoulders. The Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB) is a circuit hike of the Mont Blanc Massif. Covering 170 km / 106 miles, it can be completed in 7 to 10 days. Despite only reaching a high point of 2,665m / 8,743’ at the Col des Fours in France and Fenetre d’Arpette in Switzerland, the moderate altitude is deceiving. In lieu of extreme elevation there is an objectionable gain and loss of altitude almost every day. In total, the circuit climbs and descends almost 10 km / 6.2 miles.

You can begin the TMB in many towns and hike in either direction, although counter-clockwise is more popular. Be prepared to face hordes of hikers everywhere as many seek to circumnavigate Mont Blanc. Tenting is not easy in the alpine zone as appropriate areas to camp are rare. The huts pack guests in like sardines. People not reserving space in advance find themselves sleeping on the floor in the kitchen, hallway or any available flat surface. Hut cuisine is expensive, but good by trail standards. Still, it pales in comparison to the famous haute cuisine of the region. You can pack your food with you, but it would be a sin to miss experiencing some of the local tastes along the way. It doesn’t get any fresher than buying the product right where it was made, from the gentle folk who made it! Speaking French while useful and appreciated by the locals is not necessary. This hike is accessible and scenic during the entire summer season but if you plan your hike to coincide with the peak of the wildflowers in July, you won’t be sorry.


Days Trekking: 12-14 days
Distance: 167 km / 104 miles
Max Elelvation: 2,665m / 8,743’
Starting Elevation: 1,007m / 3,304’
Approximate Elevation Change: 1,658m / 5,440’
Price Range Independent: Highly variable depending on where you stay and what you eat. You can easily do it for less than $100 per day.
Price Range Outfitter: $1,750 - $4,000
Challenge Level: Moderate



  • True high Alpine experience
  • Multitudes of wildflowers


When to Go

If you like good weather, the season is fairly short with the best weather from July to mid September. While there is always a risk of snowfall, it is far less during this time frame. Also, if you go too early, you risk deep snow on the passes.


Guided vs Independent Treks

The difference in price between independent and guided walking along the Haute Route can be considerable. However, the trail is easy to lose and with many high passes it's easy to get in trouble if you are not experienced. Therefore, if you having hiked at altitude consider a guided trip carefully before embarking on and independent walk.



The trek is moderately difficult, but given that you only need to carry a few days’ supply of food and no need for a tent, your pack can be relatively light. Unlike many other treks, there are multitudes of options for breaking the trek up into smaller segments if you need easier days. The ability to sleep at not just refugios, but hotels also makes it easier on your body.


Tour de Mont Blanc Map
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Tour de Mont Blanc Elevation Map
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Access / Local Information

There are many places to start the circuit. We flew into Geneva and took a bus to Les Houches, but you could just as easily start from Chamonix.



The Tour de Mont Blanc circumnavigates the Mount Blanc massif as well as some of the neighboring mountains as you walk through France, Italy and Switzerland.



Day to Day Account - Jeff Salvage - Tour de Mont Blanc - France, Italy, Switzerland

This trip was different than the previous Great Treks as my companion was no longer the “Mighty” Kirk or a friend, but instead my beautiful, new wife Jennifer. She is veteran of the trail, thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and the International Appalachian Trail by herself. Both were far longer than the hikes we planned for the summer, although they were not at the altitude or with the massive elevation gains and losses of the Alps. While I used to joke about the “Nepali Flat,” the many ups and downs along the trail, the Alps are also brutal in terms of daily gains and losses in elevation. In one day alone we would climb a vertical mile only to give it back the following day. In all, we gained and lost almost 9,450m / 31,000’ without climbing much over 2,600m / 8,600’. The story continues...