Circle the highest summit in Western Europe in just seven days of trekking with this summer itinerary. Start in the Chamonix Valley and hike through France, Italy, and Switzerland with iconic Alpine vistas throughout. Hike over high mountain passes and quiet meadows, see the Alps reflected in mirror-like Swiss lakes, visit the classic resort towns of Courmayeur and Chamonix, and spend each night sleeping comfortably in charming mountain huts and lodges.

Highlights

  • Hike through high alpine scenery of France, Italy, and Switzerland 
  • Take in panoramic views from Col de la Seigne and Croix-du-Bonhomme
  • See the Swiss Alps reflected in the mirror-like surface of Lac Blanc
  • Visit the classic resort towns of Courmayeur and Chamonix
  • Stay in charming and comfortable mountain huts and lodges

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Chamonix Valley Les Houches
Day 2 Les Houches - Les Contamines-Montjoie Les Contamines Montjoie
Day 3 Les Contamines - Vallée des Glaciers Les Chapieux
Day 4 Vallée des Glaciers - Courmayeur Courmayeur
Day 5 Courmayeur - La Fouly / Champex Champex
Day 6 Champex - Bovines (Fenêtre d’Arpette in option) - Trient Trient
Day 7 Trient - Argentière Argentiere
Day 8 Argentière / Le Tour - Chamonix  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Geneva & Transfer to Chamonix

Inside the Mer de Glace glacier
Inside the Mer de Glace glacier

Welcome to France! You'll arrive in Chamonix to check in to your hotel and receive your travel details. The closest airport is Geneva, with shuttles running regularly from the airport to the city center.

The town of Chamonix sits at the foot of some of France's highest mountains, giving it its nickname of the French capital of alpinism. If you've got time to explore, take a ride on the Aiguille du Midi, France's highest gondola, to take in the peaks. You can also head to the Mer de Glace, riding a red cog train up to a glacier and its ice cave.

Wander the city center in the evening to shop and find a cozy restaurant for dinner.

Day 2: Chamonix - Les Houches - Les Contamines - Montjoie

Ibex in front of Glacier du Bionnassay
Ibex in front of Glacier du Bionnassay

From anywhere in Chamonix, take a free local bus to the Bellevue cable car that will take you to the trailhead at the foot of the climb to Mont Blanc. You'll begin with a traverse to the Bionnassay Glacier, followed by a "Nepali hanging bridge crossing." Make your way through alpine pastures up to the Col de Tricot Pass, where you'll break to check out the views of Contamines-Montjoie Valley. If you aren't feeling up to it, you can potentially bypass the ascent to Col du Tricot Pass.

Continue down a steep trail to the rural chalets of Miage, then up to Chalets du Truc and a contour around Mount Truc. Descend down into the town of Contamines-Montjoie, where you will spend the night.

Elevation change: +2,133 feet (650 m), 0-4,265 feet (1,300 m)
Hiking time: 5 hours

Day 3: Les Contamines-Montjoie - Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge - Les Chapieux

Ville des Glaciers with Les Chapieux in the background
Ville des Glaciers with Les Chapieux in the background

Take a short morning transfer to Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge and visit the Baroque church that marks the start of the Roman road, a historic trade route used to travel from one mountain valley to another. Then hit the trail with a  steady climb to Col du Bonhomme Pass along the southern end of the range, along the boundary between the Mont Blanc range and the Beaufortain Mountains.

The ascent continues to Col de la Croix-du-Bonhomme Pass, with spectacular views of Mount Pourri. On the descent, you'll hike through alpine pastures to the small hamlet of Les Chapieux to spend the night. The town is home to more cows than humans, along with a local ham and cheese shop and houses traditionally used as summer homes.

Elevation change: +4,265 feet (1,300 m), -3,117 feet (950 m)
Hiking time: 6-7 hours

Day 4: Les Chapieux - Col de la Seigne Pass - Val Veny - Courmayeur

Mont Blanc in Aosta Valley, Courmayeur
Mont Blanc in Aosta Valley, Courmayeur

Start from Ville des Glaciers today, with a detour to a local farm to learn how Beaufort cheese is made. Then continue your ascent through alpine pastures to Col de la Seigne Pass and the Italian border. You'll see the jagged side of the Mont Blanc range, with summits like Mt. Blanc de Courmayeur, Noire de Peuterey Spire, and the Grandes Jorasses looking close enough to touch. 

A descent will take you through Val Veny to the foot of the Miage Glacier, with a peaceful lake and unique alpine flora. Then transfer to Courmayeur, the capital of the Italian Alps. Stroll through the town and its main street, and leave time for a stop at the Alpine Guide Society museum.

Elevation change: +2,461 feet (750 m), -2,953 feet (900 m)
Hiking time: 5 hours

Day 5: Courmayeur - Arnuva – Champex

Valley of La Fouly
Valley of La Fouly

From Courmayeur, take a local bus to the end of the Val Ferret (Arnuva). From here, head uphill to the Elena Hut, which sits at the upper end of the Val Ferret below the mighty Mt. Dolent. This towering mountain sits on the borders of Italy, Switzerland, and France. 

From here, hike up to the border from Italy into Switzerland at Grand Col Ferret Pass. Turn around to take one last look at Italy before starting the descent through the gentle alpine meadows of the Swiss Alps to the small hamlet of Ferret. From there, catch a bus to Champex, a peaceful village on a small lake. 

Elevation change: +2,625  feet (800 m), -3,117 feet (950 m)
Hiking time: 5 hours

Day 6: Champex - Bovine/Fenêtre d’Arpette - Trient - Argentière

Trient town
Trient town

You have two options to get you to Trient today,  so choose based on your feelings and the weather.

Option one is the classic Tour du Mont-Blanc Trail via Col de la Forclaz Pass. Follow a scenic mountain road through small hamlets and Swiss chalets, then head through forests and meadows past Bovine. This area is known for producing some of the region's most famous cheeses, with cows grazing alongside views of the Rhône River Valley.

Elevation change: +2,297 feet (700 m)
Hiking time: 5.5 hours

If you'd prefer the more strenuous route, take an alpine hike over Fenêtre d’Arpette, a high-mountain notch that offers a passage from one side of the granite-spire ridgeline to the other. Ascend through the lush alpine meadows of the Arpette Valley, up to the Fenêtre d’Arpette notch. Then follow Bisse Creek down to Trient. This trail should only be attempted during dry weather when the notch is free of snow.

Elevation change: +3,937 feet (1,200 m), -4,593 feet (1,400 m),
Hiking time: 8 hours

Regardless of which trail you choose, you'll end the hike in Trient, a valley village known for its pink church. From here get a private transfer to cross the Swiss-French border. You'll head for the village of Argentière, the first town in the Chamonix Valley, to spend the night. 

Day 7: Argentière - Col des Montets Pass - Lac Blanc - Chamonix

Chesery Lake
Chesery Lake

Today's scramble through the Aiguilles Rouges presents views of the many glaciers and summits above Chamonix, with the Mont Blanc range just across the valley.

From Col des Montets Pass, follow the balcony trail to the Cheserys Lakes, known for their clear blue waters and reflections of the surrounding peaks. Continue to Lac Blanc, watching for alpine ibex along the way, and onto La Flégère. A gondola will take you down the valley floor in the hamlet of Les Praz, where you can choose to either hike back via the Bois du Bouchet forest or take the bus back to the Chamonix city center for the evening.

Elevation change: +2,953 feet (900 m), -1,969 feet (600 m)
Hiking time: 5 hours

Day 8: Depart Chamonix

Bosson Glacier above Chamonix
Bosson Glacier above Chamonix

Enjoy one more alpine breakfast before you catch your transfer to the airport. Bon voyage!

Map

Map of Tour du Mont Blanc Self-Guided Trek - 8 days
Map of Tour du Mont Blanc Self-Guided Trek - 8 days