Follow the classic Tour de Mont Blanc trail on this six-day itinerary, with a twist: you'll be running between villages and alpine passes, maximizing your time in the region. This adventurous trail running trip is perfect for active travelers who want to experience classic Alps views. You'll run between 19 and 28 miles per day as you wind your way around the Mont Blanc Massif, taking in the views of glaciers and spotted alpine cows before relaxing in mountain villages at night. 

Highlights

  • Run through the meadows and forests of Val Ferret
  • Explore the alpine towns of Courmayeur & Champex
  • Cross high mountain passes as you traverse 3 countries
  • See the Bionnassay Glacier
  • Spot local wildlife, like ibex and eagles

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Geneva & Transfer to Chamonix Chamonix
Day 2 Run from Chamonix to Les Contamines-Montjoie Les Contamines Montjoie
Day 3 Run from Les Contamines-Montjoie to Courmayeur Courmayeur
Day 4 Run from Courmayeur to Champex Champex
Day 5 Run from Champex to Chamonix Chamonix
Day 6 Depart Chamonix  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Geneva & Transfer to Chamonix

Aiguille du Dru in the Mont Blanc massif
Aiguille du Dru in the Mont Blanc massif

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 regularly making the 1-hour trip from the airport to the Chamonix 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 a traditional mountain dinner.

Day 2: Run from Chamonix to Les Contamines-Montjoie

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

Meet your luggage transfer service at 10 am at the Chamonix Train Station, then hit the trails for a full day of running. You'll start the day with an easy and flat start in the valley en route to Les Houches, then head southwest into the mountains towards Bellevue and the Col de Voza Pass, which sits at 5,423 ft (1,653 m). 

Pretty soon, you'll reach the Bionnassay Glacier, followed by a Nepali hanging bridge crossing. Make your way through alpine pastures up to the Col de Tricot Pass (6,955 ft/ 2,120 m), where you can take a break to check out the views of Contamines-Montjoie Valley

Continue down a steep trail to the rural chalets of Miage, then up to Chalets du Truc and a contour around Mount Truc. Descend into the town of Contamines-Montjoie, where you'll find comfortable amenities and several restaurant options. 

Distance: 19.3 miles (31 km) 
Vertical gain: 4,757 ft (1450 m)
Vertical drop: 4,429 ft (1350 m)
Running time: 7 hours

Day 3: Run from Les Contamines-Montjoie to Courmayeur

Mountains near Courmayeur
Mountains near Courmayeur

Today is the most demanding day of the tour, with the highest vertical gains and drops. You'll cross four passes, as well as the highest pass of the trip. 

Start your day heading south to the long Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (7,641 ft/ 2,329 m), with an option to climb the Col des Fours (8,743 ft/ 2,665 m) before descending east into the Vallée des Glaciers. From here, you'll climb another high pass—Col de la Seigne, an 8,254 ft (2,516 m) high pass that lies to the northeast, directly on top of the French-Italian border. 

Your last climb of the day will be Chécroui (6,407 ft/ 1953 m), which you'll reach after running a balcony trail that parallels the glaciated face of Mont Blanc to the north-west. Your last downhill will bring you to Courmayeur, a lively mountain town with plenty of gear shops and restaurant options for dinner on your own. If there's time in the evening, it's worth it to pay a visit to the Alpine Museum (open in June until 6:30 and 7:30 in July/ August, closed on Mondays in June). 

Distance: 27 miles (43 km) 
Vertical gain: 9,350 ft (2850 m) 
Vertical drop: 9,022 ft (2750 m) 
Running time: 10 hours

Day 4: Run from Courmayeur to Champex

Valley of la Fouly
Valley of la Fouly

Today is the longest day distance-wise, but with less vertical gain/loss than the previous days. Start the run by heading up the trail to the Bertone Hut, where you'll follow a balcony trail to Bonatti Hut and Arnuva. This section of the trail has some of the easiest running, and you'll follow Val Ferret between mountain ridges as you head north-east. 

Once you reach the northeastern end of the valley, climb the Grand Col Ferret (8,323 ft/ 2,537 m), which sits on the border between Italy and Switzerland. From here, you'll get views of Mont Dolent, which marks the intersection of three country borders: France, Italy, and Switzerland. You can also see the south faces of the highest summits in the Italian Alps. 

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 La Fouly. From here, you'll wind through an easy and flat trail along the north-south valley until you reach the final climb to Champex. This section of the trail is the lowest in elevation, with no high passes to navigate. You'll spend the day passing by dark-timbered barns, running through thick forests, and enjoying the peace and quiet. 

Once you reach the village of Champex, give your legs a rest with a beer on a terrace overlooking the lake. Shopping is available nearby, but most stores close early in the evening. 

Distance: 28 miles (45 km)
Vertical gain: 7,709 ft (2350 m)
Vertical drop: 6,889 ft (2,100 m)
Running time: 10 hours

Day 5: Run from Champex to Chamonix

View of Mont Blanc from Aiguilles Rouges
View of Mont Blanc from Aiguilles Rouges

Today is your last day in the mountains. Cross the hamlet of Champex, then hit your first uphill climb heading northwest to the town of Bovine (6,519 ft/ 1,987 m). From here, you'll take the classic Tour du Mont-Blanc Trail west via Col de la Forclaz Pass (5,006 ft/ 1,526 m). Follow a scenic mountain road through small hamlets and Swiss chalets, then head through forests and meadows. This area is known for producing some of the region's most famous cheeses, with cows grazing alongside views of the Rhône River Valley.

Then it's another high pass to climb to the Swiss-French border, at Col de Balme (7,288 ft/2,191 m), with more views of the north face of Mont Blanc. 

Make the last push to the Aiguilles Rouges (Red Needles) Range, which faces the main Mont Blanc massif. The photos from here are especially beautiful. The Petit-Balcon trail leads you back to Chamonix, where you'll spend your last night. 

Dinner tonight is on your own, with lots of restaurant options in town. 

Distance: 25 miles (40 km)
Vertical gain: 6,726 ft (2050 m)
Vertical drop: 8,038 ft (2450 m) 
Running time: 9 hours

Day 6: 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 Trail Run  - 6 Days
Map of Tour du Mont Blanc: Self-Guided Trail Run - 6 Days