Self-Guided Hiking Tours

Italy, France & Switzerland | TMB Vitesse

A quick version of the famous Tour du Mont Blanc.

  • Aiguille Chardonnet and Verte
  • "We started our trip in Chamonix. We traveled to Courmayeur over the alps by the cable cars. We used large capacity backpacks for luggage, so they were allowed on the cable cars. We then walked to the hotel in Courmayeur. There was about a mile or so without sidewalks, but most of it was quite nice. Experiencing the massive scale of Mt. Blanc from the cable cars greatly enriched our experience of the mountain. We were really happy that we started our hike with an aerial view. It was a tremendous perspective that can't be gained from the ground."- William Pable
  • "I loved the physical challenge of the hike. I enjoyed the amazing views of the alps and getting to visit so many different places. The food was delicious and it was a great experience to taste a variety of traditional dishes from different countries."- Evelyn Wallace

Trip Highlights:

  • Hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in seven days.
  • Behold Mont Blanc, Western Europe's highest peak.
  • Walk through three different countries, Italy, France and Switzerland.

For those who want to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc, but have a limted amount of time, we offer the Tour du Mont Blanc Vitesse. Vitesse means “speed” in French, and this shortened TMB itinerary covers the greatest highlights of our standard itinerary in five hiking days instead of eight.

Our abbreviated TMB begins in Courmayeur, Italy, hikes around the east side of Mont Blanc, and finishes in Chamonix, France. Along the way, we take advantage of some little known variations that offer spectacular and unique views of the range, and we use comfortable accommodations– primarily three and four star inns and hotels–as our bases, with the exception of two nights in simpler inns high in the Alps. Hiking days are challenging, but the scenery is breathtaking, and at the end of the day a comfortable bed, hot shower and four or five course dinner await.

The unique combination of good accommodations and spectacular hiking makes this tour a wonderful reward for the physically fit. Because luggage transfers between countries are expensive and inconvenient, hikers should be prepared to carry three to four days’ changes of clothing at a time.

Trip Itinerary

Fly to Geneva, transfer independently to Courmayeur, Italy. Overnight in a well-appointed four star hotel not far from the pedestrian zone.

In our opinion, the Italian side of Mont Blanc, also referred to as the Brenva Face, is the mountain’s most stunning aspect. Sheer walls of rock and ice rise straight up from the Val Veni and Val Ferret, two valleys that radiate outwards from Courmayeur. You’ll enjoy an entire day of huge mountain views (weather permitting), as you hike along a special Ryder-Walker variant of the traditional Tour du Mont Blanc. Burn through memory cards as you snap photos of Mont Blanc and its neighboring giants, Aiguille du Géant (13,166 feet), Grandes Jorasses (13,806 feet) and Mont Blanc du Tacul (13,937). Enjoy views of the Glacier de la Brenva, and overnight in a pleasant inn in the Val Ferret. Bathrooms are down the hall on this night.

The language changes to German as you hike across the Grand Col Ferret (8,330 feet) into Switzerland. Stunning views of the Grand Combin (14,154 feet), one of the Alp’s highest peaks, makes this a spectacular hike. Stop for espresso, (or something stronger) at the Rifugio Elena (6,762 feet), a rustic Italian hut with a fireplace, wooden beams, stone architecture and a dramatic position opposite the Prè de Bard glacier. Walk past working Swiss farms, stop for traditional Swiss cheese making, and continue through rolling green meadows to the Swiss Val Ferret. Transfer by local bus to the idyllic lake side town, Champex, and our Swiss chalet.

We’ll offer two hiking options today. Wander along the shores of Lac Champex, a forested mountain lake that looks more northwoods than it does alpine, and climb into the remote Val d’Arpette. Cross the Fenêtre d’Arpette (8,743 feet), an airy and rugged mountain pass with views of the Glacier de Trient and the Swiss Val Ferret. Drop down next to the Trient glacier, and follow its icy fingers until they melt away in the sunny, Swiss hamlet of Trient. Alternate: Hike into a wild side valley called Le Barmay. Stop at a working Swiss farm for one of the best tasting omelettes in the Alps. Continue along an old mule track that overlooks the entire Rhone Valley from a height of more than 5,000 feet. Descend to your lively hotel on the Col de la Forclaz.

This is your last day in Switzerland as you hike past the Trient glacier, climb past ancient herding settlements and top out at the treeless French/Swiss border at the Col de Balme (7,231 feet). Have lunch at the Rufuge de la Croix du Bonhomme, a historic mountain hotel constructed in 1877. Surprisingly, the original owner of the hotel still serves lunch! Enjoy huge views of the Chamonix Valley, the surrounding mountains and the myriad glaciers, including the Mer de Glace, (Chamonix’s largest glacier), the Glacier d’Argentiere and the Glacier du Tour. The rock spires and mountain peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif are really too many to mention, so just trust us, you’ll get a visual feast of mountain splendor. Overnight in a French chalet-style hotel in Argentiere.

Today’s hike follows the Grand Balcon Sud, one of the most beautiful mountain hikes in the entire French Alps. Stop for a picnic at Lac Blanc, a high alpine lake with the most spectacular views of the Alps that you’ve ever seen. Snap photos of Mont Blanc, the Aiguilles Rouges, l’Aiguille du Midi (12,605 feet) the Glacier des Bossons and more. The views of the Mer de Glace are particularly striking on this day. Descend to Chamonix via the Chalet Floria, a stone chalet adorned with quintessentially French flower boxes and hanging planters. Go out on the town for a celebratory dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Chamonix (not included with price).

Awaken to a delicious French breakfast then depart. An early afternoon flight from Geneva may be easily met. Private taxi transfers are available too, please inquire.

TMB Vitesse | Italy, France & Switzerland

Similar Trips

You Might Also Like...