Our 6 day Tour du Mont Blanc itinerary covers half the route going in the traditional counter clockwise route starting from Tré-le-Champ in France to Courmayeur in Italy.
If you’ve haven’t got time to do the whole 11 day TMB route, then this 6 day Tour du Mont Blanc itinerary is perfect.
Our 6 days on the route takes in the most spectacular scenery on the TMB, starting with the famous ‘Le Grand Balcon Sud’ high above the Chamonix valley, giving arguably the most impressive views of Mont Blanc, to the wild, remote high mountain passes of Col du Bonhomme and Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. Then climb over the Col de la Seigne, leaving France behind. Hello Italy.
Our itinerary finishes in the charming Italian town of Courmayeur. You can then catch a bus back through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Chamonix.
The traditional starting point for the TMB is from Les Houches at the end of the Chamonix valley but instead of starting here, we walk the last two stages of the trek first, from Tré-le-Champ to Les Houches. By combining the last two stages and then the first 4 stages, we’ve created the perfect 6 day itinerary for hiking half the trail but seeing the most spectacular sections.
We’ve also used all available public transport to cut trail times because we were hiking with kids. If you want to know great ways to shorten each day on the TMB, particularly if you’re a family considering the trek, check out our post on all the TMB public transport we used along valley floors or cable cars up & down the mountain to save legs for the best bits.
Below is a brief outline of our itinerary, which includes the time it took us to complete each day (compared to the times stated in the Trek the Tour du Mont Blanc Cicerone guidebook by Kev Reynolds. You can click on daily posts to see the full trail experience for each day. We will be completing the trail this summer from Courmayeur around back to Tré-le-Champ.
Tré-le-Champ to La Flegere (stage 10 in the Cicerone guide)
Height gain 733m / height loss 257m
Time: for us with kids 5 hours / in the Cicerone guide 3.5 – 4 hrs
The first day hiking the French Alps from the hamlet of Tré-le-Champ to La Flégère at 1875m is an easy but no less exciting day. Traditionally the penultimate day on the tour, the trail ascends to the famous Grand Balcon Sud which gives unrivalled views over the valley to Mont Blanc and the Massif range. This is the shortest day on the TMB (5hrs with kids) so a good section to start on.
This route climbs the famous ladders at the Aiguillette d’Argentière, which adds an extra touch of excitement to today’s hike. We found the ladders easy enough & my 10 year old said it was one of her favourite parts of the TMB. For those who don’t like heights there’s an alternative route (which takes an extra hour) only ten minutes from the starting point of the traditional route from the National Reserve information hut further up the Col du Montets.
You can often see chamois or ibex on this stretch of the trail owing some of the terrain crossing into the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve
La Flégère to Les Houches (stage 11 in the Cicerone guide)
Height gain 772m / height loss 1546m
Time: for us with kids 6 hours taking the cable car
(in the Cicerone guide 6.5hrs without taking the cable car)
From La Flégère, walk the stunning Grand Balcon Sud trail to the cable car at Brévent. Take the cable car up 2525m to cut out an hour of steep hiking and to save tired legs.
From the top of Brévent marvel at possibly one of the best views of Mont Blanc on the whole TMB trail before continuing downhill for the remainder of the day down to Les Houches through the riot of red azaleas.
Keep your eyes peeled – this is a great section of the TMB trail to spot ibex and chamois.
Les Houches – Les Contamine – Nant Borrant refuge (stage 1 in the Cicerone guide)
Height gain 939m / height loss 633m
Time: 7 hours (with kids) including taking the Bellevue cable car. Reduce to 6 hrs by taking bus along Les Contamines valley floor.
Omit this day & take a taxi around from Chamonix to Les Contamines if you want to reduce this itinerary to 5 days
Taking the Bellevue cable car up from Les Houches, pass through charming French villages and gentle meadows to enter the Monjoie Valley and catch the bus along the valley floor to the town of Les Contamines.
Either stay here for the night, or catch the shuttle bus to Gorge du Notre Dame pressing on for another hour to the next refuge on the trail, Nant Borrant (carving an hour off difficult day 4).
If you only have 5 days available to hike, or want a day discovering Courmayeur, then this day is the one to miss. The scenery is charming but not spectacular. Take a taxi from Les Houches to Les Contamines (40 minutes).
Nant Borrant refuge – Les Chapieux (stage 2 in the book)
Height gain 1,023m / height loss 929m
Time: 10.5 hours (with kids)
This is a big day. The biggest!
This day was the day I worried most about whilst planning the trip because there are no shortcuts – nada.
It took us over 10 hours and that was even with us walking an hour extra, the day before, to cut an hour off this day!
This stage is demanding as there are two cols to climb from the Montjoie valley into the Vallée des Glaciers. Col du Bonhomme (2329m) and Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2483m).
That said, the scenery is spectacular and it’s exciting to encounter some snow on the trail over the cols. This is true high mountain trekking at its best and by now though, your legs should be in full swing and your body used to long days on the trail.
Les Chapieux – Rifugio Elisabetta (Italy) (stage 3 in the book)
Height gain 1,023m / height loss 929m
Time: 8 hours (with kids) including taking the shuttle bus from Chapieux to Village des Glaciers
Catch the frequent shuttle bus from Les Chapieux to either Village des Glaciers or Les Mottets parking to cut an hour off this stage.
Today the trail leaves France and climbs up to cross the Col de la Seigne (2516m) and over the border into Italy.
From here Mont Blanc comes back into view and the route descends into the Vallon de la Lée Blanche.
Another long, demanding day but filled with anticipation and wonder crossing into Italy with jaw dropping scenery.
Rifugio Elisabetta – Courmayeur (stage 4 in the book)
11.5km (if you pick up the cable car at Maison Vieille (if not 18km)
Height gain 460m / height loss 1560m
Time: 7 hours (with kids) taking the Dolonne cable car down from Refugio Maison Vieille
There are no cols to climb on this last days hike into Courmayeur, however we found it a demanding day and it’s not to be underestimated. The hike up from the Vallon de la Lée Blanche to the highest point, the Mont Favre Spur (2430m) is challenging.
The views hiking along the south flank of Val Veni are truly inspiring as peak upon peak unravel. Take the Dolonne cable car down from Refuge Maison Vieille into the village of Dolonne to carve off almost two hours of descent off the original trail. Catch the bus into Courmayeur.
We’d love to hear from you if you’ve done any of the world’s classic multi-day treks with your children. Please do let us know your experiences in the comments section below. There are so many epic trails in exciting countries around the world. We’d love to trek the Inca Trail but are a little scared to do it yet with kids! Globe Totting have written a great post about visiting Machu Picchu with kids without doing the Inca Trail! If you’ve ever considered the Balkans for your next walking adventures, I’d recommend going Joanna from Overhere describes 9 beautiful hikes in the Balkans.
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