Custom day hikes around Mont Blanc—based in Chamonix, France
Here's a way to enjoy the great hiking opportunities of the Mont Blanc region but with the convenience of not having to change hotels every day. Your "base camp" is a comfortable 4-star hotel in the bustling resort town of Chamonix at the foot of Mont Blanc, featuring rooms with fabulous views of the surrounding mountains. Our itinerary is flexible, with moderate to challenging hiking options that showcase the spectacular beauty of this part of the Alps. And spectacular it is, with fabulous vistas of serrated peaks and glittering glaciers every single day! Best of all, our flexible itinerary allows us to "follow the sun" in this region of micro-climates, so daily hikes are chosen according to where the best weather is. (You can even take a day off to shop if you like.) This "quick escape" is also a great option for those wishing to squeeze in a couple of days in one of the continent's celebrated cities and still miss only a week of work. Your guides have a wealth of knowledge that is simply unsurpassed.
Moderate to strenuous day hikes on varied terrain
- Exclusive, flexible itinerary allows you daily hiking options in one of the Alps' most spectacular locations
- 6 nights at a comfortable 4-star hotel in Chamonix—no need to repack every day!
- Add a quick visit to one of Europe's most elegant cities and still miss only a single work week
Duration: 7 days
Start Location: Chamonix
Sunday-Saturday itin End Location: Chamonix
Day 1 : Arrive in Geneva – Chamonix
Arrive at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland. Together we will transfer by private car to the mountain-ringed resort town of Chamonix, France. The transfer takes approximately 1½ hours, and once at the hotel, you'll have time to rest, explore town, or enjoy the pool and spa before meeting the guide for a "welcome" dinner and orientation.
Days 2 - 6 : Selected Day Hikes
We've chosen several outstanding options for day hikes amid the splendid scenery of the Mont Blanc area. The trails traverse France, Italy, and Switzerland so you'll get a full complement of the fantastic scenery. Breakfast and lunch are included each day. After breakfast, the guide will lay out a variety of fixings for a delectable gourmet picnic lunch, including special regional cheeses and cold cuts, yogurt, fresh breads, plenty of fruits and vegetables, chocolate, and trail snacks. You'll fix your own lunch and carry it in your daypack. Each night you're free to take dinner in a local restaurant of your choice. We'll have a festive farewell dinner at the end of our final day of hiking (Day 6).
Possible excursions include the following:
Aiguille du Midi-Montenvers (France)
In 1741, the first tourists to Chamonix were transported to Montenvers on the backs of mules in order to admire the glaciers. Today, most travelers take a bright red cog train up the steep slopes to reach the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), the second-largest glacier in the Alps. We begin our hike from the hotel, crossing the town of Chamonix and entering the forest. Ascend a steep trail passing the Blaitiere farm to reach the "Grand Balcon," from where we have a fabulous view of the Chamonix Aiguilles towering above us. We traverse below these towering peaks toward the Montenvers railway sitting high above the Mer de Glace glacier. We may see alpinists on the glacier. Return to Chamonix by the cog railway. (5 hours hiking)
The Lakes of the Aiguilles Rouges (France)
North of Chamonix the massif of the Aiguilles Rouges offer beautiful views of the Mont Blanc massif. A telepherique allows us to quickly escape the valley floor for hikes to luminescent mountain lakes. According to the group's hiking abilities (and the weather forecast), two hiking options are available: one to Lake Cornu, a five-hour hike with an ascent/descent of 1,500 feet; or a hike to White Lake, an easier three-hour hike that offers a reduced 600-foot ascent and a 1,500-foot descent.
Courmayeur to Bonatti Refuge (Italy)
On the Italian side of Mont Blanc is the resort town of Courmayeur (4,014'), spectacularly situated beneath the Grand Jorasses and Brenva Glacier. Here the views of Mont Blanc are Himalayan in scale—the mountain rises in a breathtaking abruptness from the Veny Valley to the summit 10,000 feet above. We'll hike two hours from the town to the Bertone Refuge, with its views of the entire Aosta Valley of Italy. We can continue to the well-known Bonatti Refuge, which faces the famous peaks and needles of the Grandes Jorasses. From here we descend into the Val Ferret, a beautiful valley connecting Italy and Switzerland, and meet a waiting vehicle that takes us back to Chamonix. (6 hours hiking, 2,100' up, 1,500' down, 35-minute transfer)
Emosson Dam (Switzerland)
Not far from Chamonix in Switzerland is a dam from which there are several splendid hiking options. Starting from the Passet Pass, we follow a trail to a terraced plateau with unobstructed views of the Tour Glacier, neighboring Swiss summits, and a background view of the summit of Mont Blanc. We descend through the wild and narrow Veudale gorge and reach a transfer vehicle for a return to Chamonix. (7 hours hiking, 2,100' up and down, 1 hour total vehicle transfer)
The Combe of Fours (France)
With a little distance from the Mont Blanc massif, we can get a full appreciation of just how magnificent it really is. Just above the village of Sallanches in the Aravis massif is a small valley where reclusive mountain goats called chamois live undisturbed. From this valley, we'll have views of the Mont Blanc massif in all its majesty. (6 hours hiking, 2,400' up, 2,400' down, 45-minute transfer)
The Junction (France)
This is another challenging hiking option, one of the best the region has to offer. A classic route on the circuit, this trail connecting two glaciers is absolutely spectacular. (8 hours hiking, 3,600' up and down)
High Altitude Meadows of the Grands (Switzerland)
From Trient in Switzerland, we hike a portion of the famous Tour du Mont Blanc. Above tree line, a narrow path brings us to the high pastures of the Grands. From here, the views are spectacular. (6 hours, 2,100' up and down)
Day 7 : Depart
After breakfast, we'll transfer to the Geneva Airport for departure flights homeward.
DATES: Best time to go: August - September Departures: Sep 7 - 13, 2014
Hotel Les AiglonsChamonix
Five minutes from the town centre, at the foot of the Midi summit, three star Les Aiglons Resort & Spa has undergone a full renovation.
Resolutely contemporary whilst breaking down the barriers of traditional mountain resort hotels, three star Les Aiglons Resort & Spa has undergone an audacious redesign and decoration, with warm and modern colours, natural materials, glass and light…
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Laurent Langoisseur hails from Normandy, France, having grown up in Argentan (a small village that became famous in August 1944, “tournai sur dives”). At the age of 12, Laurent read La Grande Crevasse by Roger Frison-Roche, and became fascinated by the guiding and climbing descriptions of the Chamonix-Mont Blanc area. At 16, Laurent visited the area and was hooked. At 19, Laurent joined the French alpine troops, and after a year of service, moved to Chamonix. In 1991, he obtained his European Mountain Leader certification, and in 1995 he was awarded the coveted patch of the Compagnie des Guides. An avid sports enthusiast and inexhaustible hiker, Laurent has hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc close to 100 times. He is also an accomplished mountaineer, having summited Mont Blanc three times, as well as several other mountains over 13,000-feet. When he is not hiking and climbing, Laurent can be found running long distances for fun. Laurent recently completed a 48-mile race in 6 hours; and has also finished 48 miles in 9 hours with 10,000’ of ascent/descent. Laurent has been guiding for MTS since 1995, and is a senior guide on our Tour du Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc Express, Mont Blanc to Matterhorn (Haute Route), GR5, Gran Paradiso, and French Riviera trips, as well as any other trip we can get him on! His knowledge of the culture, history, plants, birds, and the name of every single peak and glacier along the trail is a wonderful complement to his guiding skills. When he isn’t guiding for us, he teaches First Aid and Mountain Rescue to mountain and hiking guides; and during the winter, he’s a ski patrol monitor in the mountains above Chamonix.
Stéphane is a true man of the mountains, with a Savoyard father and Swiss mother. He grew up in Chamonix, then left the valley to follow his first love, architecture. But the call of the wild proved too strong: numerous travels in North Africa, Siberia, and the Himalaya opened a new door to him—the profession of hiking guide. Nowadays Stéphane lives in a chalet in Chamonix from where he escapes frequently to travel the mountain areas of the world. “Steph” has now been a member of the Compagnie des Guides for many years, with over 100 trips to the Alps under his belt.
A native of Chamonix, Florence is a descendant from two of the area’s oldest families. After growing up in the Chamonix Valley, “Flo” spent several years in the south of France, and then traveled abroad to South America and Asia. She returned to her ancestral home, where the mountains now form an integral part of her life. She has led nearly 50 trips to the Alps, not counting how many times she has done this trip for her own fun! In addition to being an accomplished hiking guide, Flo is a skier and climber. As a member of the Compagnie des Guides, she follows in the footsteps of her forefathers.
Beatrice is a native of Chamonix, France, and has been guiding professionally in the Alps since 1989. She comes from a family of mountain climbers. Her grandfather was also a professional mountain guide. Aside from being an expert hiking guide, Beatrice is also an avid climber and accomplished skier, and is a ski instructor during the winter months. She loves the mountains, and will share her enthusiasm and her great experience with you during your trip.
Native from Chamonix, Fabienne comes from a family of mountaineers and farmers. Her grandfather was a recognized mountain guide. A former cross-country ski champion, she raced in several Europa Cups, and has been coaching the Chamonix cross-country Ski Club for the last 20 years. Very involved in the city life, she has a passion for the history of the valley and the surrounding mountains. A guide since 1993, she is also keen in botany and proud to share her love and knowledge of the Mont-Blanc massif.