Chamonix, France, Champéry, Switzerland and the Alps’ Oldest Trail Race

Summary

A unique trip that includes Chamonix, the world's trail running hotspot, the quiet Swiss Alps village of Champéry, and a chance to take part in the oldest trail race in the Alps, DDM Trail.

Date

September 10 - 16, 2018

Length

7 days, 6 nights

Tour Category

Village-based

Fees

$3,495 per person, $300 single supplement

Whats included

Six nights at village hotels in Chamonix, France, and Champéry, Switzerland, all breakfasts, trail snacks, 5 dinners, guided runs daily, transfer ticket rail pass for Geneva-Chamonix and Champéry-Geneva transfers, Chamonix-Champéry rail transfer, all transfers to and from trailheads. DDM Trail race is an additional fee.

Description

This fall we have a unique trip that features Chamonix, the Alps hotspot for trail running and proclaimed “Vallée du Trail,” then a visit to a quaint village high in the Swiss Alps and a special opportunity to take part in the Alps’ oldest trail race, DDM Trail, with its beautiful course around the wild Dents-du-Midi range.

Our trip starts in Chamonix, France, the world’s epicenter of trail running. We’ll run the high-elevation Balcon Sud, in full view of the impressive Mont Blanc massif and the towering Aiguilles, or needles, that dot the range. After, we’ll wander through town, taking in the sights in this village where modern-day alpinism began. Climbers still fill the streets, testing themselves against demanding rock and ice climbs. Our second day will feature a ridge run to the Aiguilles des Houches, and we’ll descend through pastures and forests back to Chamonix.

Next, we’ll take French and Swiss trains over the high border and into the Swiss wine-growing Rhône valley. From there, it’s on to a cog railway up a side valley to tranquil Champéry, a small village nestled under the seven craggy peaks of the Dents-du-Midi range. The next morning, we’ll head off for a trail run amid the dramatic terrain in this quiet corner of the Alps.

For those who wish to take part in an Alps trail race, we’ll have entries available to DDM Trail, a challenging 57-km race with 12,000 feet of climbing. DDM Trail is an authentic Alps trail race, with a history dating back decades. In fact, 2018 will mark the 47th year of this iconic course! If you’d like something a bit less challenging, you can take part in the popular two-person relay. For those who prefer not to race, we’ll provide trail run options for the day, and there’s always the chance to cheer on runners and watch the race unfold from a number of beautiful mountain huts and cafes.

September is our favorite time of year in the Alps. The trails are quieter, and cooler temperatures prevail. It’s a great time to be in this quiet and dramatic setting!

Day-by-day
Day 1

Arrive in Geneva, and transfer to Chamonix, France, the world’s home for Alpinism and trail running. An airport pickup is included, making this an easy and relaxing hour and a half journey. Enjoy your first impressive views of Mont Blanc, with time to relax at the pool and outdoor patio of our charming Chamonix hotel before joining the group for our trip meeting, followed by dinner.

  • Aiglons
  • Dinner
Day 2

Trail running along the Bossons Glacier in Chamonix, France.

Today we’ll enjoy a few of the hundreds of kilometers of trails in the Chamonix valley, as we get oriented to the Alps. We’ll run one of Chamonix’s dramatic “balconies,” with views of Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges natural preserve.

  • Aiglons
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, and dinner
  • 10-12 miles; 3,000 feet climbing and descending; shorter option available.
Day 3

We’ll run up into the Aiguilles Rouges preserve high above Chamonix, then run the dramatic Aiguillette des Houches ridge, followed by pastures and wooded trails back to town. Throughout the run, the Mont Blanc massif will loom across the valley. Dinner is on your own tonight, giving you a chance to roam the streets of Chamonix and select from one of the many great restaurants that line Chamonix’s Rue Paccard.

  • Aiglons
  • Breakfast and trail snacks
  • 10 miles; 4,500 feet climbing and descending; shorter option available.
Day 4

Today is a rest day, as we travel by train to the Swiss border, taking a cog railway train high through the Alps, descending to the Swiss city of Martigny, in the wine-making Rhône valley. We’ll finish with a train ride up to the mountain village of Champéry. An optional short run along the popular Gallerie allows us to stretch our legs before settling into the charming Art.Boutique.Hotel Beau-Séjour.

The téléphérique heads up to the heights at Croix-de-Culet. Rue du Village, Champéry.

  • Art.Boutique.Hotel Beau-Séjour
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, and dinner
  • 4 miles; 500 feet ascending and descending
Day 5

Today we’ll pick a run around the Champéry region, at the end of the bucolic farming valley of Val d’Illiez. We’ll run under the snow-covered peaks of the Dents-du-Midi and the Dents Blanches ranges, perhaps stopping for lunch or café au lait at a local mountain cafe.

  • Art.Boutique.Hotel Beau-Séjour
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, and dinner
Day 6

Rustic Cabane de Susanfe, above Champéry, Switzerland.

Today is race day! You’ll have the choice of running the full DDM Trail, take part in the relay, or enjoy cheering on the runners from Champéry or at a mountain hut or cafe. You can read more about the DDM experience via the Run the Alps blog.

  • Art.Boutique.Hotel Beau-Séjour
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, and dinner
  • 0 - 36 Miles
Day 7

Today we’ll say “Au Revoir” to the other Run the Alps guests. Your transfer to Geneva airport via train is included in the tour package price.

  • Breakfast
Arrival

Plan to arrive the day your tour starts at the latest. Flights from the US usually depart the day before. Geneva is the closest airport to Chamonix. Zurich will work as well, but requires an additional half-day of train travel.

Departure

Plan your departure for the day after your tour ends, at the earliest, from either Geneva or Zurich, Geneva being preferable. Consider one night at a hotel in your departure city if you prefer not to rush.

An option exists to arrive earlier or stay on longer, to extend your trail running time. We can help with these arrangements.

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