Mont Blanc Walks

50 day walks and 4 multi-day treks

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14 Jan 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.6cm

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Guidebook to 50 day walks in the Mont Blanc region near Chamonix and Courmayeur, plus outlines of 4 multi-day treks around both sides of the Mont Blanc massif. The walks range from 3 to 20km and cover a variety of terrains from easy valley walks to more challenging routes over boulders, scree and on via ferratas.

Seasons Seasons
Unsurprisingly, summer is the usual season for walking in the mountains, as its when they tend to benefit from more stable weather conditions: it's also when the huts are open and the lifts are working. So to have maximum choice of walks that's the time to come. This season extends from late June to mid-September and is busiest between 14 July (Bastille Day in France) to 15 August (Assumption). Earlier, in June the weather is often hot and sunny and the days are long, but snow often remains above 2000m or lower, and can seriously interrupt a high level walk, and facilities may be closed, as is also the case in September and October: the chance of snow is far less in autumn, too.
Centres Centres
Chamonix; Courmayeur; Ferret; Les Houches; Plaine Joux; Servoz; Vallorcine
Difficulty Difficulty
Walks are presented as one of three grades: • Grade 1 walks are of a standard that any reasonably fit person can manage, not involving more than about 500m of ascent and/or descent. Paths are good and usually waymarked. Grade 1 walks do not call for more than basic map-reading skills. • Grade 2 walks are usually quite long and involve up to about 1000m ascent and/or descent. Terrain can be rough but paths which are quite good and waymarked. • Grade 3 routes are long, often with no trail or where the path is difficult to find; there could be some scrambling, and there is considerable height gain and loss. These walks should only be undertaken by experienced walkers who have already hiked in the Alps.
Must See Must See
54 alpine walks centred around Chamonix, the 'capital of mountaineering' Sublime high-altitude landscapes: glaciers, flower-decked slopes and rocky trails Gastronoic specialities including cheese, chocolate and ice cream Chamonix alpine museum, cable cars and mountain railways for the bad weather days All routes feature a detailed route description and mapping and are illustrated with spectacular photography
14 Jan 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.6cm
  • Overview

    The 54 walks in this guidebook explore the popular region around Mont Blanc(4808m), the highest mountain in Western Europe, showcasing the very best routes on both the French and the Italian sides of the massif. Includes 50 great day walks – from 3 to 20 kilometres – and 4 multi-day treks, taking in a variety of terrain including valley footpaths, airy ridges and via ferratas. Walks are organised according to the nearest town base: St Gervais les Bains and Les Contamines, Servoz and Plateau D'Assy, Les Houches, Chamonix, Argentière and Courmayeur. The multi-day treks are Vallorcine to Plaine Joux, the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges, Vallorcine to Servoz and a circuit of the Italian Val Ferret.

    Walks are Graded 1 to 3: grade 1 walks are manageable by any reasonably fit person on good, usually waymarked paths, while grade 3 routes are long, tough routes, often without waymarking, making navigation difficult: there could also be some scrambling. Additionally there is often a valley walk that can be done whatever the weather, or on rest days, with children, by bike, or as a run. All routes feature a detailed route description and mapping and are illustrated with spectacular photography.

    The major centres of Chamonix and Courmayeur are often busy with holidaymakers and associated industries: cafés, accommodation, and lifts and signposts... but these valleys have walks equal to anywhere for their views, terrain and variety, with their sublime glaciers plunging towards the valleys, high snowy summits glinting in the sun, flower-bedecked slopes and rocky trails. Be it spring, summer or autumn, the sheer beauty and range of the walking here will satisfy any hiker – and there are plenty of facilities for the end of the day.

  • Contents

    The Region
    How it all Started
    Via Ferratas
    Animals and Birds
    Flowers and Trees
    Transhumance and Alpages
    When to Go
    Getting There
    Alpine Accommodation
    Security and Rescue
    Guided Walking
    Walking with Dogs
    Mountain Biking
    Trail Running
    Things not to be Missed
    How to Use this Guide
    Chapter 1 – St Gervais Les Bains and Les Contamines-Montjoie
    1 Mont Truc
    2 Mont Joly
    3 Lac d’Armancette
    4 Col de la Fenêtre
    5 Tête Nord des Fours
    6 Lacs and Monts Jovet
    Chapter 2 – Servoz and the Plateau d’Assy
    7 Lac Vert
    8 Pointe Noire de Pormenaz
    9 The Dérochoir and the Désert de Platé
    Chapter 3 – Les Houches
    10 Le Prarion
    11 Mont Vorassay
    12 Aiguillette des Houches
    Chapter 4 – Chamonix
    13 Chamonix Valley Walk
    14 La Chapeau and Tête des Prapators
    15 Montenvers
    16 Montagne de Blaitière
    17 Chalet de Cerro
    18 Montagne de la Côte
    19 Refuge de Bel Lachat and Le Brévent
    20 Grand Balcon Sud – La Flégère to Planpraz
    21 Lac Blanc
    22 Tête de Villy
    23 Col de Salenton
    24 Lac Cornu and Lacs Noirs
    Chapter 5 – Argentière
    25 Argentière Valley Walk
    26 Pierre à Bosson
    27 Tête du Grand Chantet
    28 Aiguillette d’Argentière – Les Chéserys
    29 Argentière Glacier Pointe de Vue
    30 Aiguillette des Posettes
    31 Refuge Albert Premier
    32 Croix de Fer
    Chapter 6 – Vallorcine
    33 Vallorcine Valley Walk
    34 Pointe de la Terrasse and Tré-les-Eaux Valley
    35 Cheval Blanc
    36 Dinosaur Tracks
    37 Bel Oiseau
    38 Col de Barberine and Fontanabran
    39 Refuge de la Pierre à Bérard
    40 Mont Buet by the Normal Route
    41 Refuge de Loriaz
    42 Emosson from Loriaz
    43 Mont Buet by the north ridge
    Chapter 7 – Courmayeur
    44 Punta della Croce
    45 Mont Fortin
    46 Mont Chétif
    47 Col and Lac Liconi
    48 Mont de la Saxe
    49 Tête Entre Deux Sauts
    50 Tête de Ferret
    Chapter 8 – Multi-day Treks
    51 Vallorcine to Plaine Joux
    52 Tour of the Aiguilles Rouges
    53 Vallorcine to Servoz
    54 Italian Val Ferret Circuit

    Appendix A Mont Blanc Region Tourist Offices
    Appendix B Useful Terms and Glossary
    Appendix C Transport in the Chamonix and Courmayeur Valleys
    Appendix D Rainy Day/Rest Day Activities
    Appendix E Hut Etiquette
    Appendix F Climbing Peaks and Hiring Guides

  • Maps

    The best-scale maps available for summer walking in the Mont Blanc region are the 1:25,000 (4cm:1km) and four of the French Institut Géographique Nationale (IGN) Top 25 series cover nearly all the walks featured here. They are:

    • IGN Top 25 3630 OT Chamonix Massif du Mont Blanc for all walks in the Chamonix valley from Chamonix northwards
    • IGN Top 25 3530 ET Samoëns Haut Giffre for all walks west of Chamonix
    • IGN Top 25 3531 ET St-Gervais-les-Bains Massif du Mont Blanc and IGN Top 25 3531 OT Megève Col des Aravis for those walks to the south of the Chamonix valley.

    In addition to these, the north end of Lac d’Emosson is covered by the 1:25,000 map Carte Nationale de la Suisse 1324 Barberine.

    The walks around Courmayeur are on the Italian 1:25,000 Istituto Geografico Centrale (IGC) 107 Monte Bianco Courmayeur La Tuile Chamonix Mont Blanc. Some are also on the IGN Top 25 3531 ET St-Gervais-les-Bains Massif du Mont Blanc.

    A 1:50,000 (2cm:1km) map is useful to get an overview of the region. The whole area is covered by the IGN Rando Editions map A1 Alpes Pays du Mont Blanc. (NB This map uses French names for all places, including those in Italy. These names may be in Italian on the 1:25,000 map but will still be recognisable.)

    Obtaining Maps

    Maps are available from newsagents – presse in France – and bookshops. The most extensive selection in Chamonix is at the Maison de la Presse, on the main street Rue Docteur Paccard opposite Snell Sports; in Courmayeur, La Stampa has a very good selection and is on the main street near the church.

    Maps are also available from:

  • Updates
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    We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our contact form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).

  • Reviews
    Book of the Month for May 2016 - Trek and Mountain magazine

    Having lived in Vallorcine (near Chamonix) for 23 years, and having led walking groups in the region for most of that time, the author of this book Hilary Sharp must know the mountain paths like the back of her hands. That certainly comes across in this book of 50 day walks and four multi-day treks which focuses on the French and Italian sides of the Mont Blanc massif. The book presents a variety of walks containing everything from easy 3-hour valley walks to challenging 9-hour alpine routes, and covers the areas around Chamonix, Courmayeur, St Gervais les Bains, Les Houches, Servoz, Les Contamines, Plateau D'Assy and Argentiere. Many of these areas (and indeed paths) will be familiar to anyone who has walked the Tour du Mont Blanc, and if that gave you a taste for the endless variations and corners to be found in this part of the world, then 'Mont Blanc Walks'is a great place to start if you want to spend more time exploring some of these areas.
    Cicerone's recent design style is clear and easy to read, with background information presented at the beginning including accommodation, mapping, plants and wildlife, transport, languages and more. Most of the obvious questions about hiking/ backpacking in the region are answered in this section, though one omission is an explanation of the legalities/practicalities of wild camping, one of the least understood issues for visitors.
    The routes themselves are clearly described and come with sketch maps that, used in conjunction with local maps, are ideal for planning your hikes. There are plenty of our personal favourites included here: the spectacular walk to La Jonction in Chamonix (where glaciers split), the beautiful walk to Lac Pormanaz in the Fiz mountains, the north ridge of Mont Buet, Tete Nord des Fours... the list goes on. The itineraries for multi-day treks is a great little section too, as not only are there some terrific suggestions here, it also gets one thinking about what other routes one can devise to pack in the views, test the legs, and beat the crowds. With the snows melting fast in the region, why not treat yourself to this excellent book and start planning your summer?
    Trek and Mountain magazine

    "This is a super guide for anyone planning some summer days walking near Mont Blanc. Chamonix and Courmayeur can be extremely busy and this suggests other valley options that have top-class walks and top-class views. In all it features 50 day walks and four multi-day treks, all graded for difficulty and with indications of the best periods for setting out - or not. Handily sized for a rucksack or jacket, it is meant to be used with the IGN Top 25 maps but an overview map is also recommended so you know what is in sight at the top. Good little tips can suggest extras on the route or options to avoid such as a "little southward ridge that gives good walking but has very exposed sections'. Detailed route descriptions are matched with superb photos and sketch maps but a bonus is information on transport links and accommodation.
    In short, this is an incitement to head for the hills, especially as many of the walks require just ordinary fitness levels."
    Connexion, February 2016

    The whole area is a great outdoor destination and if you haven’t been before you are missing out on one of Europe’s great travel destinations. The area has an abundance of accommodation options to suit every budget, awesome infrastructure and a truly glamourous feel about it (especially the honeypot of Chamonix).

    Hilary describes the area with the expert knowledge she has. The introduction section is very well thought out with plenty of information on flora and fauna, getting there, geology and a little bit of history and a detailed section on the all important safety and security. Mont Blanc Walks is a great little guide and those used to the Cicerone way of presenting guides will not be disappointed. The guide is jam packed with 50 day excursions throughout the whole range, including Courmayer (if you can cope with the eyewatering fee through the Mt Blanc tunnel).

    What I like about Cicerone guides is that most guides usually include several multi day treks. Alpine regions are superbly serviced for these with a wealth of comfortable mountain huts that can sometimes be as large as a small hotel, complete with WiFi and TV! The area will be most famous for the Tour de Mont Blanc but not everyone wants a 10 day endurance challenge. Mont Blanc Walks has four short multi day treks to offer, each 3 or 4 days long and staying in mountain huts. The descriptions are purposefully vague so you can plan for yourself the actual route you want to do if you feel there is something special you want to see. The routes are either circular (as the spectacular Tour du Aiguilles Rouges) or finish at points where a bus connection can be caught. So there is no excuse to get out and have a spectacular night in the mountains.
    Mont Blanc Walks is an ideal companion to a holiday in the region, it is well written by someone who is local and has a wealth of knowledge, Hilary has made a great job of the third update. I am definitely excited about going for a visit and one of the short treks is certainly on the cards. I would have liked to have seen a graded list of the routes as that would save a little time when planning a day out but other than that a nice guide that you should definitely pack if you are visiting the area.
    Climbing Gear Reviews, April 2016

    All levels are catered for, with some quite low-level walks and a decent number of more challenging hikes into the higher altitudes. The author lived in the Chamonix valley for many years and the guide benefits from her insights.

    Arguably the most useful aspect of this guidebook is the range of off-the-beaten-track walks. These will allow users to avoid the crowds that flock to the slopes of the Mont Blanc area in peak season. On a similar vein, a selection of four multi-day treks is proposed. Any of these would provide a good introduction to multi-day walking while again avoiding the well-beaten tracks of the Tour de Mont Blanc and the GR5.

    Irish Mountain Log, Spring 2016

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Hilary Sharp

Hilary Sharp is British, a qualified Accompagnatrice en Montagne (International Mountain Leader), and is based permanently in France. After 23 years living in the Alps she now lives in northern Provence, within easy driving distance of the southern French Alps. She runs her own trekking business, Trekking in the Alps and Provence, guiding walks in winter, spring and summer (;; Her love of walking and climbing has taken her to many parts of Europe and further afield. Hilary occasionally contributes to British walking magazines and is author of Trekking and Climbing in the Western Alps (New Holland, 2002).

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