Walk the best of Mont Blanc Circuit in France and Italy
The circuit of Mont Blanc is one of the finest walking routes in the Alps. It is in reality a series of paths linking the seven valleys that surround the highest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc. It normally takes a fortnight to complete the whole circuit, but for those with less time this one-week Exodus tour takes in the most outstanding sections with beautiful mountain highlights each day. Throughout the holiday we are based in the delightful chalet with dramatic views of Mont Blanc, and use a mix of private bus and local trains and buses to travel out each day to re-join the next stage of our walk covering beautiful sections of the famous circuit. At the end of each day we return home for afternoon tea, or for those who wish, a dip in the chalet’s bubbling Jacuzzi. Due to the spectacular landscapes it also makes the perfect location for a photography special week. Sue Bishop, award winning photographer will join the walks and give practical, hands-on advice and help with your photography. She will also hold a couple of evening workshops in the chalet talking about different photographic techniques, and answering any questions you may have.
All breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches and 6 dinners are included in the price of the trip. All food is home cooked in the chalet using local ingredients. *Typical Meals:* Breakfast: Buffet style breakfast will usually consist of cereal, eggs, orange juice, croissant, fresh French bread, butter, jam, tea or coffee. Lunch: Picnic style lunches will normally include bread, fresh salad vegetables, cold meats or tinned fish, cheese and fresh fruit. Evening meal: This will normally consist of a first course of soup, salad or charcuterie, a main course of meat or fish with rice, potatoes or pasta and vegetables, followed by dessert or fruit and tea or coffee. The price of the evening meal does not include wine, beer, bottled water or soft drinks. Vegetarians and Gluten-free diets: We happily cater for vegetarian and gluten free diets but please inform us at the time of booking.
Fly to Geneva; transfer to your chalet. There is plenty of time to walk into Chamonix in the afternoon before a pre-dinner briefing from the walking leader.
Our first walk of the week is on the slopes of the Col du Balme from where we will have stunning views back to Mont Blanc as well as into Switzerland. From the small hamlet of Montroc (1380m – 4400ft) we have a short warm-up walk before the trail turns uphill on a steady zigzag path. As the trees thin out, the views get ever better and by late morning we reach Aiguilette des Possettes (2200m – 7220 ft). This is a stunning peak from where we are rewarded with a superb panoramic view over the Chamonix Valley, the Aiguille Rouge national park and around to Switzerland. The path continues down to the Col du Possettes and then on a steady trail becoming ever more winding and finally down to La Tour. (1450m – 4750ft). 6 hours walking. 820m - 2700ft up, 730m – 2400ft down
Today we have a spectacular walk from (1370m – 4450ft) up to the Bel Lachat refuge on the classic TMB and GR5 routes. Crossing the beautiful Carlaveyron Natural Reserve, we summit the Aiguillette des Houches (2285m – 7500ft) for one of the finest views in the Alps - looking directly across the Chamonix Valley to the Mont Blanc summit. Passing through alpine meadows we descend by a different route to La Flatière (1370m – 4500ft). 7 hours walking. 900m – 2950ft up, 930m – 3050ft down
Approximately a 35-minute transfer from our chalet brings us to the les Contamines valley which is where we start our walk back towards the Chamonix Valley. The day starts on a valley path that narrows and steepens as we climb up towards the Passerelle de Bionnassay, a dramatic suspension bridge spanning a white-water stream that tumbles from the Bionnassay glacier a few 100 meters higher up. The route then brings us round to the Col de Voza (1653m – 5360ft) with an expansive view up the Chamonix Valley. During the afternoon we trek down to the valley floor although there is a cable car option (payable locally) for those with tired legs. 7 hours walking, 11km – 7 miles, 560m –1840ft up, 610m – 2000ft down
Today is a free day for optional walks or sightseeing. Your leader will be able to advise you of possible walking routes or you may choose to visit the bustling alpine resort town of Chamonix, which has numerous shops, bars, restaurants and cafés. There are several cablecar excursions you can make from Chamonix, of which the most spectacular is the ascent to the Aiguille du Midi (3842m - 12600ft), offering fantastic views of Mont Blanc and surrounding peaks. It should also be possible to take the mountain train up to Montenvers for close up views of the glacier, Mer de Glace or if you are feeling adventurous you could enjoy a tandem Paragliding flight.
We drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Italy for a chance to soak up some Italian atmosphere! From Arp Nouva (1770m – 5805ft) we climb up and along to the Bonatti refuge. At just over (2000m – 6560ft), the view from here is one of the finest on the tour. Mont Blanc itself, the towering rocky peak of Grandes Jorasses and the glaciers that crowd the northern flank of Val Ferret are there to be admired. Following a dramatic traversing path we contour high above the valley before descending towards the valley floor. Time allowing, we head off to Courmayeur, the perfect spot for a well-deserved Italian ice-cream. 7 hours walking. 450m – 1500ft up, 550m – 1804ft down
From Argentiere (1250m – 4100ft) we start our day following the petit Balcon Sud before changing tack and climbing to the Grand Balcon Sud that contours the Chamonix valley to Plan Praz (2000m – 6560ft) from where we descend by cable car back to Chamonix. The Grand Balcon Sud is a stunning must do walk in the valley and looks over to Mont Blanc and the Mont Blanc massif. The views of snowy peaks, soaring cliffs, fractured glaciers and lush green forests ensures this trek is not just a highlight in the valley but the whole of the Alps. (Due to maintenance on the Flegere cablecar this walk has been amended from our previously advertised walk to Lac Blanc. This trek is a little longer than the original and is equally beautiful) 7 hours walking. 800m – 1690ft up, 100m – 330ft down Distance covered: 9 km / 6 miles Spring and Autumn departures - The Plan Praz cablecar is open for trips starting between 15th June and 7th Sep. Outside of this time the cablecar is due to be closed and its cost is no longer included in the price of the holiday. If the timetable changes, and the lift is open, then the cable cost will be paid locally. Approx 20 euro. Alternatively we will follow a Spring and Autumn itinerary which is the same as above but instead of walking from Flegere to Plan Praz we will walk off the mountain from Flegere via the charming Chalet Floria where we will have time for a cup of tea. Due to the added decent this is a little harder that the summer itinerary but the views are equally stunning. 8 hours walking. 12km - 7.5 mile, 740 m – 2430ft up, 950m – 3120ft down
Following breakfast we say our goodbyes. Those on the group flights will transfer to Geneva; fly to London.
* All breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches, 6 dinners * All accommodation * All transport and listed activities * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
This was an outstanding trip. Stayed at Chateau Chamonix in very comfortable accommodation. The hostess and host (Sarah and Rich) were brilliant people. Very welcoming, organised, knowledgeable and great fun to be around. The quality of their cooking (especially Sarah) was second to none. It was like being in a Michelin star restaurant. Food quality was matched by the fun at the kitchen table, where we met wonderful people with similar mind sets. Jim, our guide, was also a sensational fellow. Our tours were organised carefully, were varied and Jim was extremely considerate to all on the walks, taking into account different fitness levels. He was also extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the terrain. We had a fantastic time and would not hesitate to do it again. Would highly recommend this to anyone with an outdoor interest (and have done so!).
Exodus Travels was recommended to me and I chose this trip because it is a region of natural beauty and would enable me to make a good assessment of the activity levels. Trip information and fitness plan were very useful. Chalet Chamonix is a very good location; our hosts Sara and Richard were excellent; informative, good natured and food to "die for". Beyond all our expectations. Our guide Shaun Rhodes was very competent, unassuming but maintained a unity within the group which made every day a pleasure. We were very fortunate to have great weather, the views were stunning.
Good variety of walking on both the French and Italian sides of the Mont Blanc Massif with the added benefit of staying in a comfortable and well run catered chalet. All you have to do is turn up every day at breakfast time!!
Overall, I felt the holiday was a great experience - the walks were varied and the views we saw were breathtaking. The chalet was perfect, we were fed more than enough and the cake and the hot tub after each walk was the perfect ending to a day walking in the sun.
I have just returned from the highlights of Mont Blanc walking holiday. I can wholeheartedly recommend this trip, from the location of the chalet to the varied walks & excellent chalet hosts. The trip was very varied, each days walk was different, from a challenging climb into the snow line of les houches one day to the sunny, technically easier but longer hike in the Aosta valley to Courmayeur the next. Our guide Mark was very organised and kept to schedules he had planned wherever possible. I must particularly praise the chalet hosts Sarah & Rich, they did a fantastic job keeping us well fed, from the continental breakfast provision to the varied self service lunch selection, afternoon tea & cakes ready for you after a long day hiking to the absolutely delicious 3 course dinner. The dinners were a highlight for me as Sarah made each evening a ‘theme’ based on their travels which meant we experienced a wide range of cuisine. Overall a fantastic trip that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
I would highly recommend this trip to any keen walker and foodie. I very much enjoyed the week at Chalet Chocolat, being looked after by the lovely hosts Zoe and Ben and the amazing walks guided by Jenny.
Jenny, our hike leader shared her experience with us and made us feel safe throughout the week. Walks were varied each day with breathtaking views. Zoe and Ben were great hosts at Chalet Chocolat. The facilities are very comfortable, the daily homemade cakes and 3 course dinners were delicious and worth going for! Chalet is in a good location where you wake up and watch sunset over the mountains from the garden and hot tub each day. It was the perfect hiking holiday.
Lovely chalet about 20 mins walk from centre of Chamonix with easy access to buses & trains. Our hosts, Zohi & Ben were lovely and looked after us really well with a freshly baked cake waiting for our return each afternoon and some really tasty dinner menus. Essentially, nothing was too much trouble which goes for our walk leader; Jenny who inspired us all with her enthusiasm, knowledge and fitness. Fantastic holiday throughout which was over way too soon. Roll on next Exodus trip!
A big thank you to Paul, Zohi & Ben from Chalet Chocolate and my fellow hikers who made this trip such a memorable holiday & a fun experience for us. Five days of good walking/ amazing views/ delicious food/ fun chat and a cosy chalet to return to every afternoon where Zohi's freshly baked cake and tea would be waiting. Ben & Zohi were wonderful hosts, nothing was too much trouble and the 3 course evening meals were a stand-out. There was plenty of time after a great days walking to rest, soak in the outdoor hot tub with a view up to Mt Blanc, eat more cake while you reviewed the days photos or nip to the local pub with your new friends!
Excellent trip made more brilliant by Sarah and Rich who were the perfect hosts. Food was outstanding as were the cleanliness and quality of the chalet. Sean also made a brilliant guide - very quiet but also sensitive to how people were feeling about the walks. The group was well matched and I think bonded very well.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
Exodus is an award-winning company built on adventures. It started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments. They continue to discover countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles - exploring this amazing planet we all live on.
At Exodus, they know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, they always remember that they are only guests. So they ensure they travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise their impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved. This is a philosophy they take around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across 90 countries – choose from walking, cycling, culture, wildlife and even polar adventures in guided groups or self-guided, tailor-made for you or a ready-made itinerary in Peru or India, Costa Rica or Italy – the choices are endless. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.
All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure with their combined experiences spanning 171 different countries and in their former lives, some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – all guaranteed to give you the very best adventure possible. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are just some of the ways this expertise comes through in your adventure.
Exodus recognises their obligation to operate their tours in a responsible and sustainable fashion to address the environmental, economic and social impact tourism can have. They are committed to the well-being of the communities that host you and the natural environment that you are there to experience. Key points in their philosophy include small groups which have less impact on local communities and environments, putting money directly into the communities visited by using locally owned and run accommodation and eating locally produced food, ensuring local staff and operators receive a fair rate for their services, encouraging their own staff to take an active interest in responsible and sustainable tourism and train them accordingly, endeavour to ensure that their practices help in the environmental conservation of the areas visited and provide their clients with advice and guidelines on how to respect the social, cultural and religious beliefs of local communities.
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