Tour du Mont Blanc: 10 Day Itinerary (TMB Part 1 of 3)

Hey folks, I’m back from my hike on the TMB! The hike was fantastic–a little hot at the beginning but it got cooler during the second half of the trip. Overall I loved the trails in France and Italy. The section in Switzerland was completely underwhelming, so if I were to do it again I’d consider taking a bus to skip parts of the trail in Switzerland.

Some quick thoughts before the nitty gritty:

  • Basic conversational French skills add a ton of value because you’re able to speak to way more people on the trail. I befriended a ton of French people and a Québécois couple along the way–meeting people was my favorite part of the trip
  • Would highly recommend for solo travelers! It’s such a well-traveled route with all the traditional mountain camaraderie, which makes it extremely easy to talk to new pals

Below is the itinerary that I walked and further down is the route I would take if I were to walk the TMB again.

  • Day 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines
    • A nice introduction to the TMB; hiked with two new pals I met at Les Houches who were a bit slow, so the day was longer than I anticipated
  • Day 2: Les Contamines to Croix du Bonhomme
    • Short day for me because I stayed overnight at Croix du Bonhomme. Since I arrived around 12:30, I took an afternoon hike sans backpack to Tete Nord des Fours, which did not disappoint.
  • Day 3: Croix du Bonhomme to Rifugio Elisabetta via Col des Fours
    • My favorite day on the TMB! Stopped by Refuge des Mottets for a snack along the way with my French Grandpa #1 and ate gnocchi at Rifugtio Elisabetta for lunch!
  • Day 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur
    • Short hike–got into Courmayeur around 1 pm
  • Day 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti via Mont de la Saxe
    • This hike could’ve been much, much shorter had I not gotten lost on the trail. Thank goodness for my Italian and Japanese guardian angels.
    • Rifugio Bonatti was objectively a very nice mountain hut, but the atmosphere wasn’t the same as other mountain huts because there were a ton of day hikers as opposed to just TMB hikers
  • Day 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly
    • Would’ve been a beautiful hike had the views not been completely obstructed by the clouds. I enjoyed hiking in the cloud though.
    • Hiked this day with my French Grandpa #2, who shared a ton of fun facts about different alpine plants.
  • Day 7: La Fouly to Champex
    • Wow, what a boring (and short) day…nothing much of interest on the hike.
  • Day 8: Champex to Trient (just past Col de la Forclaz) via Bovine alp
    • Another short hiking day (arrived in Trient around 1 pm); highlight of the day was enjoying a mid-morning snack (tarte aux cerises) at Alp Bovine
  • Day 9: Trient to Argentière
    • The huts in Tré le Champ were completely full, so I went on to Argentière. I think the huts would’ve been more enjoyable.
  • Day 10: Argentière to Chamonix
    • Started the day thinking I would hike from Argentière to Lac Blanc and then to Le Brévent, but because of the rain, I had to stop en route to Lac Blanc and book it to La Flégère. Took the cable car from La Flégère to Chamonix and stayed in Chamonix for the last night.

Here’s the itinerary I would take if I were to do it again:

  • Day 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines
  • Day 2: Les Contamines to Croix du Bonhomme (with day trip to Tete Nord)
  • Day 3: Croix du Bonhomme to Rifugio Elisabetta
  • Day 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur or Rifugio Bertone
  • Day 5: Courmayeur (or Rifugtio Bertone) to Rifugio Elena (via normal TMB route)
  • Day 6: Rifugio Elena to La Fouly (option: upon arrival take bus from La Fouly to Champex and stay in Champex overnight)
  • Day 7:
    • Option 1 (with bus): La Fouly to Champex via bus and then hike Champex to Col de la Forclaz
    • Option 2 (with bus): If took the bus the previous day, hike Champex to Col de la Forclaz
    • Option 3 (own two feet):  La Fouly to Col de la Forclaz (pit stop in Champex for lunch)
  • Day 8: Col de la Forclaz to Tre-le-champ (or Lac Blanc)
  • Day 9: Tre-le-champ to La Flégère (with a detour visit to lac blanc)
    • Option 1: Stay at La Flégère overnight and then finish the TMB by hiking from La Flégère to Les Houches on Day 10
    • Option 2: Continue past La Flégère and hike to Plan Praz or Le Brévent, take cable car down to Chamonix and stay in Chamonix
    • Option 3: Stop at La Flégère and take cable car to Les Praz and then bus to Chamonix

Happy walking 🙂

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