We invite you to take part in this spectacular circuit around Mont Blanc which is one of the world's classic hikes. From the massif of Mont Blanc (15,771 feet or 4807 metres), seven valleys extend into France, Italy and Switzerland. Each retains its own unique culture, architecture and landscape.
Each day you will hike up to the ridges and descend into the valleys below, with time to enjoy views of glaciers, green mountain meadows, lakes and peaks (Bionnassay, Peuterey, Grandes Jorasses, Dolent, Aiguille Verte....).
Lodging is provided in mountain lodges ('refuges' in French). Generally, these are modest stone buildings offering dormitory-style accommodation. All meals (generally wonderful, mountain Savoyarde cuisine) are prepared by staff living at the refuge.
In Chamonix you will stay in a Collineige chalet; this adds a luxurious touch to the beginning and end of your trip.
Hikes vary from five to seven hours each day. Picnic lunches are carried and dinners are served at the refuges.
GRADE: Strenuous hiking, moderate elevations, 7 days' hiking.
DAY 1: We meet you at Geneva airport and take you to Chamonix. Here you will receive a warm welcome at your Collineige chalet, dinner and breakfast are included. You will have some time to relax and explore this delightful mountain town. Also to get acquainted with your travelling companions and guides, and to prepare and check equipment!
DAY 2: We'll drive you the short distance from Chamonix to Les Houches. There you take the cable car to Bellevue (5906 ft) and begin hiking below the snout of the tumbling Bionnassay glacier. Then hike down through the thickly wooded hillside to Les Contamines (3829 ft). Cast your mind back to a bygone era as you follow an old Roman road to the Balme refuge (6100 ft).
5 hours hiking.
DAY 3: A long ascent through some spectacular and varied terrain to Col du Bonhomme (7641 ft) and Croix du Bonhomme (8100 ft) in the natural park of Les Contamines. Weather permitting, there can be a detour to the scenic Col des Fours (8600 ft). Then a gentle hike downhill on a grassy trail to the Mottets refuge.
6 - 7 hours hiking.
DAY 4: A relatively easy hike over the Col de la Seigne (8245 ft) and down into Italy for to the beautiful Lac Combal. Continue hiking up to l'Arp Sup Vieille (7550 ft), with a scenic traverse on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, or Monte Bianco as we should call it over there! Overnight you will stay at the Maison Vieille refuge.
7 hours hiking.
DAY 5: You hike down to the attractive medieval town of Courmayeur (4014 ft) and spend a few hours exploring. And then in the afternoon a hike up to the Bertone refuge (6300 ft) where you can enjoy a magnificent sunset on the Mont Blanc range.
7 hours hiking.
DAY 6: A hike down to Val Ferret followed by a transfer to the road's end (5906 ft) and walk up a nice trail past the spectacular Prť de Bar glacier. You then cross the Grand Col Ferret (8300 ft) and reach Switzerland, to descend to Ferret for a transfer to Champex (4808 ft). Then a romantic trail to Relais d'Arpette for your overnight stay. 6 hours hiking.
DAY 7: A long but magical ascent. Hike up to the FenÍtre d'Arpette (8743 ft) a rocky 'window' on a mountainous ridge. This is followed by a spectacular descent along the edge of the Trient glacier. An alternative trail, following the normal route by Bovine (6800 ft) is possible. You will spend the night at the Relais du Mont-Blanc du Trient.
DAY 8: And finally, you hike back into France on a moderate trail via the Col de Balme (7188 ft). Here the Chamonix valley comes back into view along with the entire Mont Blanc massif and the Tour glacier. Truly spectacular. You then descend to Trelechamp (4649 ft) to complete your tour. After lunch you are transferred back to your chalet in Chamonix for a bit of pampering and a well earned farewell dinner.
Refuge accommodation (6 nights): These refuges are often located in spectacular mountain settings. They offer dormitory style lodging with four or more persons per room, there is not much privacy and generally few showers. Toilets are usually outhouses. They always have dining rooms for dinner and breakfast. You can purchase wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks.
Leadership: English speaking guides are members of the prestigious 'Compagnie des Guides', a professional and certified service, which was founded in 1821.
Ability of participants: The Tour du Mont Blanc circuit is designed for fit, energetic people who have a healthy dose of curiosity and enthusiasm for the world and who like to be active. The most important prerequisites are a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude!
You should be an experienced hiker in good physical condition. This trip is a challenging trek; you must be prepared and capable of walking an average of 5 to 7 hours per day on trails with steep ascents and descents (averaging 3000 to 4000 feet up and 2000 to 3000 feet down each day).