Trip Difficulty: Difficult
Circumnavigation of Mont Blanc Range
10 Days, 8 Days of Hiking
Price per person: CAD $3450
Single supplement: CAD $150 - Only available in hotels.
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Day 1: Chamonix / Les Houches
Meet in Les Houches, a small, typically Savoyarde town 6 kilometers south of Chamonix in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Welcome dinner and drinks, overnight in a small hotel.
Day 2: Refuge Chalet de Miage
A short walk to the Bellevue cable car and a scenic ride up to the ridge overlooking Les Houches with incredible views from the top.
Mont Blanc and its satellite peaks tower above, as the river Arve rushes below. A gentle walk allows us to ease into the rhythm of multi-day hiking as we make our way to the family run Chalet de Miage for the evening.
Day 3: Refuge Nant Borrant
The day starts with a short climb before reaching a plateau and our traverse under the dramatic peaks of the Aiguille du Glacier and of Tre-la-Tete. Our home for the night is a privately run inn, one of the oldest in the region.
Day 4: Les Chapieux
One of our longest hikes begins easily enough with a gentle climb along a wide jeep trail. On both sides of the path, the chime of cow’s bells can be heard and marmot’s strident whistling echos all around. Our climb continues until we reach the Col du Bonhomme and then on to a French Alpine Club hut of the same name. A steep descent brings us to the miniscule hamlet of Les Chapieux.
Day 5: Courmayeur
We begin the day with a short mini-bus transfer to Villes-des-Glaciers where we will tour a small cheese factory producing one of the most complex cheeses in the French Alps, the Beaufort. Crossing the Col de la Seigne we can actually have one foot in each country. A long, gentle descent leads to the medieval town of Courmayeur, a former Roman military garrison with a pedestrian only core.
Day 6: Rifugio Bonatti
After a hearty breakfast, we begin along the cobble stone streets of the old town before heading steeply up to the Mont de la Saxe, an imposing lateral moraine, which towers above the town of Courmayeur.
Our evening’s destination is the Bonatti hut, more of a hotel than mountain refuge.
Day 7: Champex-Lac
Continuing along the ridge for a short time, we descend to the Val Ferret only to climb again to the Rifugio Elena and possibly the best hot chocolate in the world!
Today’s climb is short and sweet with the last views of this side of the range.
Once at the pass, we say ciao to Italy and bonjour to Switzerland as we make our way to Champex-Lac.
Day 8: Col de Forclaz / Trient
Leaving Champex-Lac, our trail takes us through forests and meadows on the Bovine trail, where herds of fighting cows from the Val Herens graze lazily.
Lunch will be taken in a small hut overlooking the Rhone Valley where Romans introduced vineyards over 2000 years ago. After lunch, a two-hour stroll will be needed to reach the Col de la Forclaz and our hotel.
Day 9: Chamonix
On our final day, the Massif du Mont Blanc awaits and the last obstacle is the Col de Balme and the gentle descent into the village of Le Tour back on French soil.
Farewell dinner in our hotel in the Chamonix valley.
Walking time: 5 hours
Day 10: Departure day
Trip ends after breakfast.