- Hike through alpine peaks and meadows
- Cross the Fenêtre d’Arpette high mountain notch
- See the summits of Mt. Blanc de Courmayeur and the Grandes Jorasses
- Watch the reflections in the Cheserys Lakes
|Day 1||Arrive in Geneva & Transfer to Chamonix||Chamonix|
|Day 2||Chamonix - Brévent - Les Houches||Les Houches|
|Day 3||Les Houches - Bellevue - Col du Tricot Pass - Les Contamines-Montjoie||Les Contamines Montjoie|
|Day 4||Les Contamines-Montjoie - Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge - Les Chapieux||Les Chapieux|
|Day 5||Les Chapieux - Col de la Seigne Pass - Val Veny - Courmayeur||Courmayeur|
|Day 6||Courmayeur - Rifugio Bertone - Rifugio Bonatti||Rifugio Bonatti|
|Day 7||Rifugio Bonatti - Grand Col Ferret Pass - La Fouly||La Fouly|
|Day 8||La Fouly - Champex||Champex|
|Day 9||Champex - Bovine/Fenêtre d’Arpette - Trient||Trient|
|Day 10||Trient - Col de Balme Pass - Argentière||Argentiere|
|Day 11||Argentière - Col des Montets Pass - Lac Blanc - Chamonix||Chamonix|
|Day 12||Depart Chamonix|
Day 1: Arrive in Geneva & Transfer to Chamonix
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 - Brévent - Les Houches
Hop on the gondola just behind Chamonix up to Planpraz to start your hike. You'll head to the Col du Brevent Pass and all the way up to the summit of Brevent Peak to take in views of Mont Blanc and the major glaciers of the range. Go down to the Bellachat hut for a break, then keep going up the short ascent to the summit of Aiguillette des Houches for a different view of the Mont Blanc summit.
Descend down to Merlet, a local fauna park that you can choose to visit, and all the way into Les Houches village. This is the first town in the Chamonix valley and a popular winter ski resort, with plenty of shops and restaurants to peruse.
Elevation change: +2,297 feet (700 m), -5,741 feet (1,750 m)
Hiking time: 6 hours
Day 3: Les Houches - Bellevue - Col du Tricot Pass - Les Contamines-Montjoie
Start your morning on 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 4: Les Contamines-Montjoie - Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge - Les Chapieux
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 5: Les Chapieux - Col de la Seigne Pass - Val Veny - 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 6: Courmayeur - Rifugio Bertone - Rifugio Bonatti
Make sure you have your camera battery charged for today's scenery. You'll start hiking from the Courmayeur city center up to the Rifugio Bertone hut on a trail through an alpine wood. Cross a ridge nearby to get one of the best panoramas of the south faces of the Mont Blanc range, particularly of the famous Grandes Jorasses.
Continue on a balcony trail that will take you to the Rifugio Bonatti in time for sunset. This isolated rifugio sits in the mountains with nothing else around, just you and your view of the south faces shining in the sunset light.
Elevation change: +3,445 feet (1,050 m), -820 feet (250 m)
Hiking time: 6-7 hours
Day 7: Rifugio Bonatti - Grand Col Ferret Pass - La Fouly
Take an easy day today. You'll start with a short morning transfer to Val Ferret at the foot of Pré-de-Bar Glacier, then ascend to Grand Col Ferret Pass to cross from Italy into Switzerland.
Descend through gentle Swiss alpine meadows down to the small hamlet of Ferret. From there, it's only a little over a mile (2 km) walk or short bus ride to La Fouly. You'll spend the night in this petite village, with just two shops and wooded Swiss-style houses.
Elevation change: +2,625 feet (800 m), -3,117 feet (950 m)
Hiking time: 5 hours
Day 8: La Fouly - Champex
Start with a leisurely hike from La Fouly to Praz le Fort, then follow Ferret River to the hamlet of Issert. Then continue up through the forest to Champex Lake, where you can take a break to relax on the lakeshore.
Champex is a small, pleasant Swiss village, with a lake surrounded by the mountains. Keep up your heart rate with a hike around the lake, or just enjoy a beer on a terrace.
Elevation change: +1,476 feet (450 m), -1,804 feet (550 m)
Hiking time: 4 hours
Day 9: Champex - Bovine/Fenêtre d’Arpette - Trient
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 spend the night in Trient, a valley village known for its pink church.
Day 10: Trient - Col de Balme Pass - Argentière
From Trient, hike up to Col de Balme Pass to cross the French-Swiss border. The top of the pass offers one of the best panorama views of the Mont Blanc summit, Chamonix, and Mer de Glace and Argentière glaciers.
Hike down to dirt roads and trails through the meadows and pastures to Le Tour. A leisurely walk will take you to Montroc and up to Argentière town. Argentière is one of the main villages of the Chamonix valley, seated at the foot of the Aiguilles Rouges range and facing the Mont-Blanc range and Argentière glacier. Wander the shops and eateries of the main street before you retire for the evening.
Elevation change: +2,953-3,772 feet (900-1,150 m), -2,789-3,281 feet (850-1,000 m)
Hiking time: 5-6 hours
Day 11: Argentière - Col des Montets Pass - Lac Blanc - Chamonix
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 12: Depart Chamonix
Enjoy one more alpine breakfast before you catch your transfer to the airport. Bon voyage!