The classic trek through France, Italy and Switzerland with the Alps experts!
Our version of this truly classic alpine adventure has been carefully customized to give you the best possible experience. MTS has been leading this expedition for over four decades, and for good reason! Mont Blanc is Western Europe’s highest and most iconic peak, and its jaw-dropping mountain views, crystalline glacial lakes, and snow-capped peaks continue to inspire even the most jaded traveler. You’ll trek through France, Italy, and Switzerland to experience the different faces of Mont Blanc, with
tall forests, grassy meadows, countless waterfalls, and enormous glaciers infusing each day with awe. Our expert guides will lead you on hikes to challenge even the fittest hiker, but the pastoral charm of clinking cowbells, wildflowers and wildlife, and the genuine alpine hospitality at our family-run inns and chalets—including hearty meals with fresh-baked bread, local artisanal cheeses, and fine wine—make it as relaxing and serene an experience as it is an athletic one.
10 days moderate to strenuous hiking (max. elev. 8,300')
- Classic 10-day circuit of the Mont Blanc massif—every mountain hiker’s “must-do”
- Three countries, three cultures, three cuisines—all on one great trip
- Take in views of spectacular peaks and glaciers every single day
- Comfortable hotels and family-style meals, including elaborate picnic lunches in beautiful settings
- Best guides in the Alps region—all work exclusively for Mountain Travel Sobek
Duration: 12 days Start Location: Geneva, Switzerland End Location: Geneva, SwitzerlandDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Geneva, Transfer to Chamonix
Arrive at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland. Transfer by private van 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 a bit or explore the town before orientation. After meeting the guides and the rest of the group, we will have a delicious welcome dinner at the fine restaurant at your hotel.
Day 2 : Warm-up Hike above Chamonix
In 1741, the first tourists to Chamonix were transported to Montenvers on the backs of mules in order to admire the glaciers. Today, most travellers 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 (3,300'), crossing the town of Chamonix and entering the forest. We'll 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'll 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. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Day 3 : Chamonix to Les Houches (France)
Again we hike from the hotel up to the start of the trail beneath the Aiguilles Rouges along the Petit Balcon to Merlet (4,921'), where we have magnificent views of the north face and glaciers of Mont Blanc. We traverse to Coupeau, then make an easy descent to the village of Les Houches (3,200').
Day 4 : Les Houches to Les Contamines (France)
Leaving Les Houches, we climb in the forest, passing beautiful mountain farmhouses, and continue through the woods to the small pass of Bellevue overlooking the Chamonix Valley; in the other directions we see the hanging glaciers of the Bionnassay and Mont Blanc. Then it’s down through the thickly wooded hillside and typical alpine hamlets to the charming small town of Les Contamines (3,829'), a traditional mountain village with picturesque wooden chalets and a fine old church.
Day 5 : Hike the Roman Road to Les Chapieux (France)
Today we make a long ascent on an old Roman road to the Plan des Dames, before the last ascent to the Col du Bonhomme (7,641') and Croix du Bonhomme (8,100') for lunch. In the afternoon, we hike downhill on a grassy trail to Les Chapieux (5,080'). Along the way we may see some recently reintroduced ibex and lots of marmots and beautiful wildflowers.
Day 6 : The Vallée des Glaciers to Courmayeur (Italy)
We transfer 15 minutes to the end of the “Vallée des Glaciers,” enjoying a relatively easy hike over the Col de la Seigne (8,245'). Here the views of Mont Blanc are Himalayan in scale, as the mountain rises in a breathtaking abruptness from the Veny Valley to the summit 10,000 feet above. We then make a descent into Italy to Lac Combal and Visaille. Transfer to Courmayeur (3,800'), situated beneath the Grand Jorasses and Brenva Glacier, where we spend the night in a hotel. Dinner tonight is in town.
Day 7 : Courmayeur to La Vachey (Italy)
Today’s beautiful walk is along the side of the mountain with fabulous views of Mont Blanc, which appears opposite us as we climb the trail. Hanging glaciers and glacial moraines are on the menu for the day! The trail takes us through larch and alder where it’s possible to see deer and chamois. Continue ascending to the Rifugio Bonnatti, with its unforgettable views. We descend the steep trail to the valley floor and continue to La Vachey (4,500').
Day 8 : La Vachey to Champex (Switzerland)
After a 10-minute transfer, we walk up a nice trail past the spectacular “Glacier de Pre-de-Bar” with Mont Dolent above. This is the meeting point of the borders with France, Italy, and Switzerland. Cross the Grand Col Ferret (8,300') to enter Switzerland, and descend to the scenic village of La Fouly (5,280'), located beneath the Glacier de l’A Neuve. Transfer by van to Champex (4,808'), a small lake resort that features typical Swiss-style chalets and charming gardens.
Day 9 : Champez to Col de la Forclaz (Switzerland)
The classic route of the Tour du Mont Blanc takes the Bovine route. An hour and a half of easy walking followed by a rapid ascent in the forest brings us high over the Rhône Valley and the town of Martigny. You will not be disappointed with this fabulous view! An easy descent brings us to the Col de Forclaz (3,900').
Day 10 : Col de la Forclaz to the Vallorcine Valley (France)
The trail climbs steeply through the forest on an old smuggler’s path to the border with France. Here there is a simply wonderful view of the Mont Blanc massif with the Chamonix valley stretched out in front of us. We will make our way down to the Vallorcine Valley east of Chamonix, and then to our hotel in Argentière.
Day 11 : Back to Chamonix (France)
From Le Col De Montets (4,800') we will hike to Les Cheserys (7,130'), enjoying views of the Le Tour and Argentiere glaciers, and all the Mont Blanc range. After rejoining the Grand Balcon Route and La Flégère, we descend to Chamonix (3,300'). Tonight we’ll enjoy a festive farewell dinner in town.
Day 12 : Return to Geneva - Fly Home!
Transfer to the Geneva Airport, and fly home!
DATES: Best time to go: June - September Departures: Jun 24, 2014 - Jul 5, 2014 Jul 8 - 19, 2014 Aug 5 - 16, 2014 Sep 16 - 27, 2014
$500 forced single supplement
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…
Hotel du BoisLes Houches, France
A warm, welcoming atmosphere and individual service makes the Hotel & Chalet du Bois a place that feels like home. We welcome you with a smile and offer you quality service, where the little things matter. A peaceful retreat to get away from the noise and stress of big cities.
Hotel La ChemenazLes Contamines-Montjoie, France
La Chemenaz chalet hotel is located in the french alps, in the Haute-Savoie at Les Contamines-Montjoie village resort (Village 1,100m - highest skiing 2487m), very close to the Lay ski lifts, which lead to the whole of the Contamines-Hauteluce ski domain.
All the comfort, services, and the specific hotel location to spend one of the best stay at Les Contamines-Montjoie, in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif country, in wintertime or summertime as well...
Auberge de la NovaLes Chapieux, France
Hotel Glacier and Sporting
Today, Isabelle and Yves Biselx continue the family hotel tradition and look forward with pleasure to receiving you! The fifth generation with their three sons, Adrien, Térence et Timothée, seems well prepared to assure the future.
The Hotel du Glacier and the family Biselx a happy couple for over 100 years. Therefore, don't miss to visit us, we'll tell you a lovely story …
Hotel du Col de La ForclazTrient, Switzerland
The ancient residence of the Berthod and De Morò families, Hotel Berthod is owned and run as a family establishment, and guests can expect a customized welcome. Just steps away from Courmayeur's main street, outfitted with indoor spa facilities and cozy, personalized rooms.
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. Leader assignments will be confirmed in the Final Bulletin sent to you three weeks prior to departure.
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.