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Chamonix and the French Alps

  • 7 Night Route

    Price: £890

Le Pays du Mont Blanc

Back to Routes
Aiguille Verte and the Dru (Argentiere glacier on the left)

Aiguille Verte and the Dru (Argentiere glacier on the left)

Near Chalet les Pres

Near Chalet les Pres

Late summer colour (photo: Martin Woods)

Late summer colour (photo: Martin Woods)

View of Mont Blanc (photo: Martin Woods)

View of Mont Blanc (photo: Martin Woods)

Looking down from the Col du Tricot

Looking down from the Col du Tricot

Mer de Glace from above Montenvers

Mer de Glace from above Montenvers

Pierre Blanche looking west

Pierre Blanche looking west

Col de Bonhomme on the Lacs Jovet circuit (photo: Martin Woods)

Col de Bonhomme on the Lacs Jovet circuit (photo: Martin Woods)

Price: £890
Nights: 7
Grade:
Walk: 3¼ - 6¾ hr/day

Travellers Reviews

The family feeling in Les Contamines was amazing.

Sabrina was a fabulous host. Even with poor weather I enjoyed my time here. My absolute favorite part of the holiday was the "extra loop" option when heading from Les Houches to Chamonix. I think this route should be highly recommended. I almost didn't do it because it sounded like it was just an option to get extra vertical km in. However, it was a stunning walk - I had most of the trails to myself... it ended with a perfect check-in at the last hotel! I would go back to Chamonix area and the Hotel Aiguille du Midi in a heartbeat for a long weekend.

Siobhan O'Connor, Aarhuis

Scenery was spectacular....

...and walks offered allowed me to select and adapt which was useful.
The contrasting hotels were very good - very different but each with their own charm and identity.

Judith Canavan, Grimsby

Your local contact was supremely useful.

Lizzy pulled out the stops to make sure that our rainy days were filled, for which we are extremely grateful. The morning spent in the climbing museum in Chamonix was absorbing.

Arthur Rollins, Baltimore

More independent feedback
A self-guided walking holiday in the French Alps with On Foot Holidays

At a glance

7 nights (6 days walking). Easier walking options available on all days. We recommend extra nights in Chamonix (more walking options).

How much walking?

Full days: 6-19km per day, 3¼ - 6¾ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 6-13km per day, 2-3½ hrs using daily shortening options

Max. Grade:

The finest mountain scenery in Europe

Our harder Alpine route, at the foot of Mont Blanc, is one of the most awe-inspiring and spectacular landscapes in Europe. Whichever way you turn, you are met by breathtaking views. Mont Blanc, rising innocently some 4000 metres above you can look deceptively near until viewed through a telescope, whilst considering how many attempts it took before man reached its summit. But our walk is lower, in the alpages, the delightful meadows, flower-decked in June and July, which demand that you stop, breathe in, listen to the cow-bell silence and take in the extraordinary vistas around you. Sit down and relax before you rush on to your next authentic Savoyard hotel, as the paths are demanding, though so rewarding.

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon

REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews of this route submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit AITO.com.

TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to France, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.

Nothing but the gentle murmur of cow bells in the French Alps, at the Chalets du Truc refuge between Les Contamines and Les Houches.

Route Highlights

  • The finest mountain scenery in Europe
  • Alpine meadows and summer flowers
  • Glaciers and snowfields – the Aiguille du Midi cablecar (3840m)
  • The Bionassay summer walkers’ suspension bridge
  • Hedonistic relaxation by the pool in Chamonix les Bossons

We recommend this route if you a looking for: Mountains

We Recommend

Extra nights in Chamonix to do additional walking - various suggestions, depending on the season.

Eating and Drinking

The home of mountain cooking, the Chamonix area is a gourmet’s heaven – there’s plenty of choice when evening meals are not included, but save yourselves also for the delights of the Aiguille du Midi’s kitchen. Watch out for a lot of cheese-based concoctions. And as it’s France, the wine is good.

How much Walking?

Full days: 6-19km per day, 3¼ - 6¾ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 6-13km per day, 2-3½ hrs using daily shortening options

This is alpine country but we have tried to make it accessible to all grades.  Some stiff ascents and steep downhills. Well-marked paths and good signage. Highest point on route: 2,354m.

Hard: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 972m (230m-1330m) per day, grading down as far as:
Easy-Medium: CUSs 540m (230m – 580m) using shortening options

GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for most of route.

Important note: Times given for each day are  walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops.  “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb.  See “Walk Grading” for more information.

When to go?

The best months to walk: July, August, September

Other possible months: June

The French Alps are ideal in the summer months when many of our other routes prove too warm for walking. In late June and July the ‘alpages’ are flower-bedecked and the sky crisp and clear. The first half of June is still quite early season for the hoteliers, and the Bionassay suspension bridge is not put back until just after mid-June – some walks may also still be affected by snow. The warmth and potential sunshine continue into mid-September but the evenings draw in at the start of October and temperatures drop.  Later bookings may involve accommodation changes too.

Start Dates

Recommended
Possible
Unavailable

Weather Chart

 

Temperature and rainfall chart for the Chamonix area

Itinerary

About the Route

Day 1 - Arrive in les Contamines

Arrive in Les Contamines. Marvel at the mountains for the first time.

Day 2 - Les Contamines circuit

A walk to Refuge Tré la Tête and onward if you wish to your first glacier, returning via a Roman road and a nature trail.  (Medium: 15½km, 4¾hrs, CUSs 820m, with shortening and lengthening options)

Day 3 - The Lacs Jovet circuit

You will be following part of the Tour de Mont Blanc on the Roman legions’ original route, returning to Les Contamines for a second night’s stay. The goal – to reach the Lacs Jovet, at an altitude of over 2000m.  (Hard: 19km, 6½ hrs, CUSs 1180m). Shorter circuits (Medium: Various options, including taking the téléphérique and starting with a height advantage.)

Day 4 - Les Contamines to Chamonix

A long and fairly strenuous day taking you into the Chamonix Valley, with two options: medium, and frankly challenging. The first plateau reached, common to both routes, the Chalets du Truc, gives you superb views of the bottom of the Glacier de Miage, then either through some unspoilt hamlets and farming communities, or via the Col de Tricot, wild, exposed and breathtaking in all senses. On arrival in Les Houches, take the train or bus on to Chamonix les Bossons (or Chamonix town, depending on where you are staying). (Hard: 17km, 5¾ hrs, CUSs 1330m, or Medium: 12km, 3½ hrs, CUSs 580m with short bus transfer to start)

Day 5 - Circular walks around Chamonix

Two walks close to Chamonix could be considered today – perhaps the high “Brévent” balcon walk on the NW side of the valley (gondolas up and down – 10km, 4 hrs, CUSs 300m) or, after a short train ride back to Les Houches, a day in the forest, visiting the Parc du Merlet where you can see local fauna.  If you feel fit and energetic, and are ready for some more vertical metres, an optional extra loop will take you steeply up to the high alpine meadows. (14km, 3½ hrs-5 hrs, CUSs 1110m).  Both these options have superb views over the Aravis, the Fiz and the Mont Blanc range. Options for other appropriate walks will be sent in your Walker’s Pack.

Day 6 - Circular walks around Chamonix

Today you might move a little further afield, to Vallorcine or Argentière by train or bus.  Using the télécabine, you could take the spectacular walk to the Refuge Albert 1er (2700m), flanking the Le Tour Glacier and its massive ice fall, and returning via a pretty path to Charamillon.  (5 hours, 9km, CUSs 500m). Options for other appropriate walks will be sent in your Walker’s Pack.

Day 7 - Chamonix – Aiguille du Midi – Chamonix

The climax of your week – a final (optional) trip up a cable car to over alt. 3800m, for the best views, weather permitting, in the Alps, a walk along the Grand Balcon Nord, and a dramatic view of a glacier, returning to Chamonix via the cog railway for your last night’s celebrations. (Easy: 6km, 3–3½ hrs, CUSs 230m)

Departure Day

Depart hotel – or choose to stay further nights.

Travel Information

ARRIVING BY AIR

The best airport for both European and intercontinental flights is Geneva.

Land by: 16:00  (14:30 Sat/Sun/public holidays)

Return flight earliest: 13:00 if transfer by train, possibly earlier if available bus

Land by/earliest return times not applicable if using pre-booked taxi.

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.

See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information.

TRAVELLING BY TRAIN

Nearest railway stations:

Start: St Gervais-Le Fayet, then bus or taxi to Les Contamines

End: Chamonix Les Bossons

Typical rail journey from UK via Paris:

London: Eurostar to Paris (N), transfer to Paris Lyon for the TGV to St Gervais-les-Bains-Le-Fayet. ~9.5 hrs.

Chamonix Les Bossons:  10 minute local train to Chamonix Mont Blanc, then TGV direct to Paris Lyon.  Transfer to Paris (N) for Eurostar for London St Pancras International.  ~13.5 hrs.

See www.seat61.com/France.htm – there is a click through to choose your town of arrival and departure, and a warning note about the timetable.

 

Getting to the start of the walk

The first hotel is in Les Contamines and the final one in Les Bossons/Chamonix. The following information will help you with transfers from Geneva airport. For transfers from train stations, see above.

Geneva airport:
Outward: Pre-booked taxi transfer from Geneva airport to first hotel 1½ hrs, or the regular bus from the airport to Les Contamines.

Return: Via the scenic Mont Blanc Express train service to St Gervais le Fayet (which links with the TGV to Paris Gare de Lyon) or either a shared taxi transfer with chamexpress.com, OR a pre-booked (through us) taxi transfer from Chamonix to Geneva Airport c. 1½ hrs OR a bus from Chamonix les Bossons to Chamonix Sud bus station, and a bus from there to Geneva airport.

For pre-bookable taxi costs, see “Prices”.

Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information

Where You'll Stay

Whilst the walking may be hard, one reward will be some excellent cooking.  Our hotels and chambres d’hotes are all family run and each has a unique and personal feel. Please note that the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix les Bossons closes in mid-September, and the (alternative) Hotel de l’Arve in Chamonix town is then used on a B&B basis.

Les Contamines – Le Hameau du Ptou (B&B)

Night 1, 2 & 3

Les Contamines – Le Hameau du Ptou (B&B)

In the heart of the village, a traditional chalet offering 3 chambres d'hotes in a warm family atmosphere.

Les Bossons – Aiguille du Midi (dinner, B&B / B&B)

Night 4, 5, 6 & 7

Les Bossons – Aiguille du Midi (dinner, B&B / B&B)

Traditional very French hotel with pool and excellent restaurant.

Prices

Price: £890 for 7 nights

Total 7 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 3 picnics and 2 evening meals, luggage transfer between Les Contamines and Chamonix ; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in June. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.

Single Room Supplement: From £265
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement: From £125
Large party saving: Groups of more than 2 people (on identical itinerary) –  discount of at least £10 per person
Maximum party size: 10

Do note that larger groups (more than 3 rooms) will need to stay at the Hotel Gai Soleil in Les Contamines, which invites a supplement.

 

Add Ons

Extra nights in any hotel: Contact us
Taxi Geneva Airport to Les Contamines (1.5 hrs): From £175 for 1-4 persons; £195 for 5-8 persons
Taxi Chamonix to Geneva Airport (1.5 hrs): From £172 for 1-4 persons; £195 for 5-8 persons
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK and Ireland:  £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)

Travellers Reviews

The family feeling in Les Contamines was amazing.

Sabrina was a fabulous host. Even with poor weather I enjoyed my time here. My absolute favorite part of the holiday was the "extra loop" option when heading from Les Houches to Chamonix. I think this route should be highly recommended. I almost didn't do it because it sounded like it was just an option to get extra vertical km in. However, it was a stunning walk - I had most of the trails to myself... it ended with a perfect check-in at the last hotel! I would go back to Chamonix area and the Hotel Aiguille du Midi in a heartbeat for a long weekend.

Siobhan O'Connor, Aarhuis

Scenery was spectacular....

...and walks offered allowed me to select and adapt which was useful.
The contrasting hotels were very good - very different but each with their own charm and identity.

Judith Canavan, Grimsby

Your local contact was supremely useful.

Lizzy pulled out the stops to make sure that our rainy days were filled, for which we are extremely grateful. The morning spent in the climbing museum in Chamonix was absorbing.

Arthur Rollins, Baltimore

More independent feedback
Reserve your dates Add to shortlist
Lizzy Ashley Cooper

Route designed by:

Lizzy Ashley Cooper

Lizzy grew to love Mont Blanc and the surrounding area so much that she made it her home. She regularly walks the paths and routes in the forests, mountain slopes and meadows, with their abundant flora and other wildlife. She is a keen ski tourer.

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