Hike Tour du Mont Blanc across France, Switzerland and Italy

2 June, 2021 | Reccy Guide

Hiking the gorgeous Tour du Mont Blanc leads hikers through the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps as it circles the Mont Blanc Massif. The paths bring visitors to some of the most breathtaking views in Europe that dip through lush valleys and up to steep mountain ranges, which look out over glaciers. As hikers go through each country they are immersed in the different personalities of France, Italy, and Switzerland as they encounter new languages and sample mouthwatering local foods, wines, baked goods and cheeses. 

Explore trip itineraries, accommodation, transport, required gear, fitness plan, insurance and more

Beginning in the end of June and running until mid-September visitors from around the world flock to the stunning village of Chamonix to begin their trek around the tallest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc Massif. By following the 170 km trail which loops around the mountain, hikers are surrounded by beautiful panoramas everyday of their trek.

The Tour du Mont Blanc was first travelled in 1767 by a Swiss geologist and physicist named Horace-Bénédict de Saussure who traveled around the mountain to collect plant specimens. He was captivated by the unbelievable beauty circling around the mountain and through his explorations he discovered the Gouter route, which is the most popular route used by climbers today to climb Mont Blanc. 

<View of the trail

This hike is unique from other trips because it allows hikers the ability to choose various accommodations each night as it passes through little villages that dot the journey. Adventurers are able to stay at a campsite, a refuge which is a dormitory style accommodation, or at a more luxurious hotel. Based on budget and personal preference, the villages that host hikers make the trek more accessible for every skill level. The refuges are the most popular option and due to their popularity between June to September, make bookings in advance!

Staying at a refuge is more expensive than camping but it allows hikers to travel lightly and only pack minimal necessities. For the trek, hikers should bring trekking poles, sun screen, proper hiking footwear, breathable clothes for all weather types, sun glasses, and essential toiletries.

Experienced hikers or hikers accompanied by guides may choose camping over dormitories and hotels for overnight stays. If this option is chosen then adequate preparation is needed factoring in significant variation in weather and a more comprehensive packing list. The journey can be very steep and rocky, either with pebbles or large rocks, or quite hilly filled with loose rocks and roots. The weather in the Alps can fluctuate greatly; it can quickly change from very hot to cold and rainy. Bring versatile layered clothing and check the forecast each morning before hiking. 

While there is no official starting or ending place on the Tour du Mont Blanc because it is a 170 km long loop that circles the Mont Blanc Massif, Chamonix is a popular place to begin the journey due to its proximity to the Geneva and Lyon airports and its access to buses and trains. 

panoramic view during the trek

As the hikers pass through villages in France, Switzerland, and Italy, many prefer to take a day of rest at some of these villages. Each day visitors quickly pass through picturesque towns in the trail that are filled with quaint houses and have local shops that sell cheese, meats, fruits and vegetables. However, for hikers who would like to have a slower paced trip they break up the journey by visiting European towns. 

The three most popular places to explore in this hike are Chamonix in France, Courmayeur in Italy, and Trient in Switzerland. Chamonix is a tourist hot spot that offers guests endless outdoor activities such as biking, paragliding, and kayaking in the French Alps. Trient in Switzerland is a hidden gem of natural beauty, a calm and relaxing place to rest while enjoying Swiss culture. The cobble-stone mountain town of Courmayeur in Italy is a very popular place to stay. Larger than most towns along the Tour de Mont Blanc, many hikers spend time exploring the miniature city while visiting shops and trying delicious Italian food. 

Overall, the Tour du Mont Blanc is an incredibly beautiful journey that showcases the best of the Alps and draws visitors from around the world to hike, bike, and explore its well- traveled path around the tallest mountain in western Europe.

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