Run the spectacular Tour du Mont-Blanc route on this inn-to-inn classic.
TMB #1: July 16-25, 2017
TMB #2: August 6-15, 2017
TMB #3: August 28-September 6, 2017
10 days, 9 nights
$3595 per person
$300 single supplement
Due to limited availability, the single room supplement is for Chamonix, Courmayeur and Champex only – 6 of the 9 nights. Rooms will be shared other nights.
8 nights at village hotels, 1 nights at a remote inn, all breakfasts, trail snacks, 8 dinners, guided runs daily, round-trip Geneva-Chamonix transfers, all transfers to/from trailheads, and luggage transfers between stops.
The Tour du Mont-Blanc is the most famous hike in the world, and for good reason. Wandering over mountain trails from France, to Italy, to Switzerland and back into France, the route includes some of the most iconic mountain terrain anywhere. We’ll kick off the trip with a day of running one of Chamonix’s famed, high “balconies,” in one of the world’s great trail running locations. Then, we’ll take our time and run highlights of the “TMB” in 7 running days, covering 10 – 15 miles and one mountain pass, each day. Our overnights will include a mix of remote mountain inns and comfortable hotels in around the Mont Blanc Massif, including Chamonix, France; Courmayeur, Italy; and Champex, Switzerland.
Our route differs slightly from the “TMB” and the famous ultra trail race. Where the race course takes less scenic routes, we diverge for better views and more enjoyable running. (An option exists to follow the race route, for those who want it.) As an added bonus, the August 28 tour will overnight in Courmayeur on the evening that ultra runners pass through the village, so there will be a unique opportunity to cheer on some of the world’s best mountain runners.
Our typical day on the Tour du Mont Blanc Run starts with a continental buffet breakfast at our inn, and soon we’ll be out on the trail. With many passes to cross, the hiking and running is challenging, but there will also be opportunities for easier days. Our tour will go counter-clockwise around Mont Blanc, starting southeast from Chamonix, then through Italy and into Switzerland, before coming back to Chamonix. Two optional transfers allow for shorter days days that get us right to the best trail running.
Most of these stages can be hiked in a full day or run in half a day, and we should finish each day with plenty of time to relax. You will have your own bedroom for 8 of the 9 nights, with small dorms at one remote inn, les Mottets. Luggage will be transferred separately, each night. In the evening we’ll enjoy dinner together at our inn or a nearby restaurant. These are multi-course feasts, often featuring local French, Italian and Swiss specialties, and will be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious. We will leave one dinner in Courmayeur free, where you will have a chance to explore on your own.
Arrive in Geneva, and transfer to Chamonix, the world-famous resort and mountaineering center in France. 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 perhaps 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.
Before setting forth on our run of the Tour du Mont-Blanc, we’ll enjoy a few of the many excellent trails in the Chamonix valley, as we get oriented and take in the views. We’ll run one of Chamonix’s dramatic “balconies,” with views of Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges natural preserve.
An undulating trail leads through alpine pastures and pine forests, over the Tricot pass and through the quiet and quaint Miage valley on one of the prettiest corners of the Tour du Mont Blanc. Passing through a tiny hamlet of stone houses where cows and horses graze peacefully surrounded by hanging glaciers, we’ll run to the small village of les Contamines and stay in a cozy hikers’ inn. Our luggage will meet us here.
Following an old Roman trail, we continue the tour with a long, steady ascent across two lofty passes, Col de la Croix du Bonhomme and Col du Bonhomme. After lunch near the pass, we’ll descend into the Valle de Glaciers and stay in a popular hikers’ inn along the valley floor, with a charming dining room and new 4-person dorms.
Leaving France, a gradual ascent through quiet alp pastures leads to the Col de la Seigne and into Italy. Here you’re greeted by an amazing view into the Veny valley and the Mont Blanc range. The Aiguille Noire de Peuterey is particularly impressive from this vantage point, and Mont Blanc itself dominates the view ahead of you. Continue down valley and into the medieval village of Courmayeur, with narrow, cobblestoned alleyways and a lively, pedestrian-only core.
After one of our favorite breakfasts, a second day in Courmayeur gives you a chance to rest and soak in the hot spring spa at nearby Pré Saint Didier. For those who want to run every section of the trail race route, there’s an option to run portions of the course in beautiful, quiet Val Ferret. Courmayeur is an extremely atmospheric village with cafes, bakeries, gelaterias, and no shortage of sidewalk cafes. It’s great for people-watching and spending a leisurely day. If you feel like taking in the view, a new, nearby skyway cable car ascends high above the valley to the upper reaches of Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco in Italian) for close-up views of the highest peaks in the Alps. Dinner will be on your own tonight in Courmayeur.
The Italian side of Mont Blanc is steep and rocky, and the Grand Jorasses rivals Mont Blanc as the focal point of our views. Today is a full day of running, and we’ll start with a quick shuttle up the valley floor to the settlement of Arnouva. From here, we’ll tackle the challenging ascent of Grand Col Ferret, one of our highest points on the trip, on the Italian-Swiss border. From here, we’ll run beautiful, rolling green single track filled with some very contented cows. We’ll descend to the quiet village of la Fouly, then continue descending along the Ferret river and through the village of Chanton, finally climbing to the pretty lakeside village of Champex, a beautiful place to spend an afternoon on a terrace overlooking the lake. From La Fouly, runners will have the option of taking a Swiss PostBus to Champex, for those wanting a shorter day.
Today’s run leads us through woods and meadows and past farms, as we climb to the height of land above Champex, with views of Switzerland’s Rhône valley and the historic city of Martigny, below. We’ll enjoy a break at a high mountain buvette, or cafe, before descending to our evening at Col de la Forclaz.
Our last day running around Mont Blanc is a classic, as we climb to the Col de Balme pass on the border with France. Enjoy gorgeous views of Mont Blanc and the entire Chamonix valley as we cross the pass and descend to la Tour. Finish with a run through the Chamonix valley, or hop a bus or train for the ride back to Chamonix, where we enjoy a delicious celebratory dinner at a favorite local restaurant.
Today we say “au revoir,” and depart for our post-Mont Blanc destinations.
Plan to arrive the day your tour starts, at the latest. Note that flights from the US usually arrive on the following day, so schedule accordingly. The closest airport is Geneva. This tour includes airport pickup in Geneva.
For those wanting to spend a few extra days in Chamonix, the “Vallée du Trail” with over 500 kilometers of trail running, we can assist in extending your time and providing self-guided trail running materials, either before or after the tour.
Plan your departure for the day the tour ends at the earliest. Since the Geneva airport is only 1 hour away by airport shuttle, it is possible to leave the day the tour ends.