Tour du mont blanc - common questions

The Tour Du Mont Blanc – Common Questions (Answered)

Are you looking to join the 10,000+ hikers who take on the Tour Du Mont Blanc every year? Well, we don´t blame you!

it´s an amazing experience where nature’s beauty ignites your spirit, tests your limits, and connects you to a world of wonder. Discover breathtaking landscapes, push your boundaries, and forge unforgettable bonds.

Taking on such an amazing task does however take a little organization and planning. For this reason, we have decided to answer the most common Tour Du Mont Blanc questions. All in one easy-to-read blog.

Let´s dive in…

What is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The Tour du Mont Blanc AKA the TMB is a popular long-distance hiking trail that encircles the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps.

It covers a distance of approximately 170 kilometers (105 miles) and passes through three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland. The trail offers stunning alpine landscapes, including snow-capped peaks, glaciers, lush valleys, and picturesque mountain villages.

The Tour du Mont Blanc attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world who are drawn to its natural beauty, alpine charm, and the opportunity to immerse themselves in the stunning mountain environment.

Where Does The TMB Start?

The Tour du Mont Blanc traditionally starts in the town of Les Houches, located near Chamonix in France.

Les Houches is a popular starting point for hikers embarking on the Tour du Mont Blanc, as it offers convenient access to the trail and is well-connected by public transportation.

Les Houches is situated in the Chamonix Valley, at the foot of the Mont Blanc massif. It is easily accessible from Chamonix, a renowned mountain town that serves as a gateway to the French Alps.

While Les Houches is the traditional starting point, hikers can choose to begin the Tour du Mont Blanc from other locations along the route as well. This flexibility allows hikers to adapt their itinerary based on preferences, logistics, or time constraints.

Where Is The Closest Airport?

  1. Geneva Airport (GVA) in Switzerland: Geneva Airport is the most commonly used airport for accessing the Tour du Mont Blanc. It is located approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles) northwest of Chamonix, which is a popular starting point for the trek. From Geneva Airport, you can easily reach Chamonix by various transportation options, including buses, shuttles, and trains.
  2. Chambéry Airport (CMF) in France: Chambéry Airport is another option for reaching the Tour du Mont Blanc. It is located approximately 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Chamonix. While Chambéry Airport offers fewer flight options compared to Geneva Airport, it can still be a convenient choice for travelers depending on flight availability and proximity to their final destination.
  3. Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) in Italy: Milan Malpensa Airport is situated approximately 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of Chamonix. While it is a bit further away than Geneva or Chambéry, it can be an option for travelers who prefer to start the Tour du Mont Blanc from the Italian side, near Courmayeur. From Milan Malpensa Airport, you can reach Courmayeur by train or bus.

How long does it take to complete?

This can vary depending on factors such as your hiking pace, fitness level, itinerary, and the number of rest days you choose to take.

On average, hikers complete the Tour du Mont Blanc in around 7 to 10 days. However, some hikers may complete it in as few as 4 or 5 days, while others may take up to 12 or more days to enjoy a more leisurely pace or incorporate additional side trips.

The fastest recorded time around the TMB is:

Men: Kilian Jornet 19:49:30 (2022)

Women: Courtney Dauwalter 22:30:54 (2021)

Here are some general guidelines for estimating the duration of the Tour du Mont Blanc:

  • 7 to 10 days: This is the average time range for completing the Tour du Mont Blanc. It allows for a moderate pace, covering approximately 15 to 20 kilometers (9 to 12 miles) per day. This duration provides ample time to appreciate the scenery, rest at the end of each day, and enjoy the cultural aspects of the region.
  • Faster pace (4 to 6 days): Some experienced and fit hikers choose to complete the Tour du Mont Blanc in a shorter timeframe, hiking longer distances each day. This requires a faster pace, covering around 30 kilometers (18 miles) or more per day. It’s a more physically demanding option and may limit the time available for exploration or relaxation.
  • Relaxed pace (12 or more days): Hikers who prefer a more relaxed pace or wish to include additional side trips or rest days along the route may take 12 or more days to complete the Tour du Mont Blanc. This allows for shorter daily distances, more time to rest and soak in the surroundings, and the flexibility to explore nearby attractions or enjoy extended breaks in certain locations.

Alpine lake

What is the best time to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The best time to hike the TMB is typically from late June to early September.

This period corresponds to the summer months in the Alps when the weather is generally more favorable and the trail conditions are optimal. However, it’s important to note that weather conditions in mountainous areas can be unpredictable, and it’s advisable to check local forecasts before setting out on the hike.

Here are some considerations for each season:

  1. Summer (June to August): This is the most popular time to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. The days are longer, the weather is generally warmer, and the mountain passes are more likely to be clear of snow. The higher elevations may still have some patches of snow, but they are usually manageable. The summer months also offer a vibrant atmosphere on the trail, with more hikers and open refuges.
  2. Late Spring (May to June): In late spring, the snow begins to melt, and the trail becomes more accessible. However, the higher sections of the trail may still have snow, and some accommodations and facilities may be closed or have limited services. It’s important to be prepared for potentially colder weather and variable conditions during this time.
  3. Early Autumn (September to early October): Early autumn can be a quieter time to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. The weather is generally pleasant, with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds compared to the summer months. However, as the season progresses, there is an increased chance of rainfall and shorter daylight hours. Some accommodations and services may also start closing toward the end of the season.

Is prior hiking experience required?

While prior hiking experience is not strictly necessary, it is highly recommended.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a challenging trek that involves steep ascents and descents, as well as walking on uneven terrain. Being physically fit and having some experience with multi-day hiking trips will enhance your enjoyment and safety on the trail.

Do I need a guide?

No, hiring a guide is not mandatory to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc.

The trail is well-marked with signposts, and there are numerous guidebooks, maps, and online resources available to assist you in planning and navigating the route. However, some hikers may prefer the assistance of a guide for added safety, convenience, and local knowledge.

Where can I stay overnight?

Along the Tour du Mont Blanc, there are various accommodation options available.

  • Mountain huts (refuges)
  • Hotels,
  • Guesthouses
  • Campgrounds.

The choice of accommodation depends on your preferences and budget. It’s advisable to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak hiking season, to secure a place to stay, even on the campsites.

What should I pack for the Tour du Mont Blanc?

It’s essential to pack appropriately to ensure your comfort and safety.

Here is a kit list that we would pack as a minimum requirement for the TMB


  • Hiking boots or sturdy hiking shoes
  • Comfortable hiking socks
  • Moisture-wicking base layers (shirts and pants)
  • Lightweight and breathable hiking pants or shorts
  • Long-sleeved shirts or lightweight fleeces for layering
  • Insulating jacket or fleece for cooler temperatures
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket or shell
  • Hat or cap for sun protection
  • Gloves or mittens for colder sections
  • Sunglasses with UV protection

Gear and Equipment:

  • Backpack suitable for multi-day hiking (30-40 liters)
  • Lightweight and quick-drying towel
  • Sleeping bag suitable for mountain huts or accommodations
  • Trekking poles for added stability and support
  • Water bottles or hydration system (1-2 liters capacity)
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.)
  • Personal first aid kit with essential medications and blister supplies
  • Trail maps or guidebook
  • Portable charger or power bank for electronic devices
  • Swiss Army knife or multi-tool

Food and Water:

  • Energy snacks or trail mix for sustenance on the trail
  • Reusable water bottle or hydration bladder
  • Water purification system or water treatment tablets

Other Essentials:

  • Passport or identification documents (for crossing borders)
  • Cash and credit cards for expenses and emergencies
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Insect repellent
  • Plastic bags or dry bags for waterproofing items

bird flying in high alpine sunset. tour du mont blanc

Are there any permits required?

No permits or fees are required to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. However, certain sections of the trail pass through national parks or protected areas, where specific rules and regulations may apply.

It’s important to respect the environment, follow any signage, and adhere to the guidelines set by the local authorities.

What is the difficulty level?

The Tour du Mont Blanc is considered a moderately challenging hiking route.

While it doesn’t require technical mountaineering skills, it does involve significant elevation changes and varied terrain, making it suitable for experienced hikers or those with a good level of fitness.

The TMB trail consists of a mix of terrains, including rocky paths, uneven surfaces, scree slopes, and some sections with exposure to heights. Hikers should be comfortable navigating these diverse trail conditions and have a basic understanding of hiking techniques, such as using trekking poles and maintaining balance on challenging terrain.

Are there alternative routes or variations of the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Yes, there are alternative routes and variations of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Some variations include taking detours to visit nearby peaks or alpine lakes or choosing different starting points or directions.

The most popular and traditional route follows a counterclockwise direction, starting in Les Houches (France), but you can adapt the itinerary to your preferences and available time.

Can I camp along the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Camping is allowed in certain designated areas along the Tour du Mont Blanc, such as established campsites or bivouac zones.

However, wild camping is generally not permitted due to conservation and safety reasons. It’s important to check the specific regulations of the areas you plan to camp in and obtain the necessary permits if required.

Is it possible to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in the winter?

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc in winter is significantly more challenging and requires specialized skills and equipment, such as mountaineering experience, ice axes, crampons, and knowledge of snow conditions.

The trail can be covered in snow and ice, and weather conditions can be harsh. It is recommended for experienced winter hikers or mountaineers only.

Can I hike the Tour du Mont Blanc solo?

Yes, it is possible to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc solo.

Many hikers choose to undertake the trek independently. However, it’s important to be well-prepared, have appropriate navigation skills, and inform others about your itinerary and estimated return dates.

Hiking with a companion or joining a guided group can provide added safety and camaraderie, especially for less experienced hikers.

Are there water sources along the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Yes, there are water sources along the Tour du Mont Blanc, such as natural springs, streams, rivers, fountains, and even glacier runoff. There are also cafes and refuges along the route that are more than happy to fill your bottle.

It’s advisable to carry a water bottle or hydration bladder and purifying tablets or a water filter to ensure a safe and continuous water supply during the hike.

Are there luggage transfer services?

Yes, there are luggage transfer services available for the Tour du Mont Blanc.

These services allow you to send your luggage ahead to your next accommodation, so you can hike with a lighter daypack. This option can be convenient, especially for those who prefer not to carry all their belongings throughout the trek.

Here are links to a few luggage transfer options:

What are some alternative hikes similar to the Tour du Mont Blanc?

If you’re looking for similar long-distance hikes in the Alps, check out these:

  • The Haute Route, which connects Chamonix (France) to Zermatt (Switzerland), and
  • The Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 in the Italian Dolomites.

These hikes offer stunning alpine scenery and challenging trails for avid hikers.

Are there any age restrictions for hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc?

There are no specific age restrictions for hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc. However, due to the challenging nature of the trek, it is recommended for individuals in good physical condition and with a certain level of hiking experience.

It’s important to assess your capabilities and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any health concerns.

Can I bring my dog?

Bringing dogs on the Tour du Mont Blanc is allowed but they must be kept on a lead at all times.

It´s also a good idea to check with all of your planned accommodations to ensure that they allow dogs.

Are there emergency services available?

Along the Tour du Mont Blanc, there are emergency services available, but they can be limited in certain remote areas.

In case of an emergency call 112, this number is the same for all countries in the European Union

As phone reception can be limited on the route, It’s recommended to have a basic understanding of first aid and carry a first aid kit with you.

What wildlife can be encountered on the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The Mont Blanc region is home to various wildlife species.

Keep an eye out for some of these beauties: 

  • Ibex: These large mountain goats are known for their long, curved horns and can often be spotted on rocky slopes and cliffs.
  • Chamois: Chamois are agile mountain antelopes that inhabit the steep and rocky areas of the Alps. They have distinctive curved horns and are known for their impressive jumping abilities.
  • Marmots: AKA Groundhogs. These ground-dwelling rodents are commonly found in alpine meadows and rocky areas. They have a distinct whistle-like call and are known for their social behavior.
  • Alpine birds: The Alpine region is home to various bird species, including golden eagles, alpine choughs, black grouse, and snow finches. These birds can be seen soaring in the sky or perched on rocks and trees.
  • Bearded Vultures: Also known as lammergeiers, bearded vultures are large and impressive birds of prey that inhabit high mountain regions. They are known for their unique appearance and scavenging behavior.
  • Foxes: Red foxes can be found in the Alpine region, though they are more elusive and primarily active during the early morning or evening hours.

Can I hike the TMB in sections or on day trips?

Yes, it is possible to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in sections or as day trips.

The trail passes through various access points and intersects with transportation options, making it convenient to divide the route into smaller segments.

This flexibility allows hikers with limited time or physical constraints to still experience parts of the trail and enjoy the stunning scenery.

sunset over mont blanc

Are there restrictions on open fires or barbecues along the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Open fires and barbecues are generally restricted along the Tour du Mont Blanc to prevent the risk of forest fires and preserve the natural environment.

Can I cycle or mountain bike on the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The TMB is primarily a hiking trail but mountain biking is possible.

Trying to ride the TMB is very difficult with lots of hike a bike and technical and exposed climbs/descents. To ride this trail you need to be an advanced bike rider with top-end gear.

Here is some more info on the topic

Are there grocery stores or places to buy supplies along the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Yes, there are grocery stores and shops along the TMB route where you can buy supplies such as food, water, and other hiking essentials.

These stores are typically located in the villages and towns that the trail passes through. However, it’s advisable to plan ahead and carry some essential supplies with you, especially in more remote sections of the trail.

Mountain refuges also carry some supplies and can provide packed lunches full of good stuff for a hard day on the mountain.

Can I hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in the opposite direction (clockwise)?

Yes, it is possible to hike the TMB in the opposite direction (clockwise), starting from any point along the route.

While the counterclockwise direction (starting in Les Houches) is more traditional and commonly followed, hiking clockwise allows for a different perspective and may provide a quieter experience on the trail.

Are there organized guided tours available?

Yes, there are organized guided tours available for the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Many tour companies offer guided hiking trips, where experienced guides lead groups along the trail, take care of logistics such as accommodations and meals, and provide interpretation and information about the region.

Joining a guided tour can be a convenient option for those who prefer a structured experience or want additional support on the hike.

Here are some links to top TMB guiding companies:

What are the average daily hiking distances on the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The average daily hiking distances on the TMB vary depending on the itinerary and personal preferences.

On average, hikers cover approximately 10-20 kilometers (6-12 miles) per day. The specific distance covered depends on factors such as the chosen route, elevation gains and losses, physical fitness, and the amount of time available for the hike.

Are there any dangerous or exposed sections?

The TMB  includes some sections that can be considered dangerous or exposed, particularly in adverse weather conditions.

These sections may involve steep ascents or descents, narrow paths, Ladders, and potential rockfall hazards. It’s important to exercise caution, be aware of your surroundings, and follow any safety recommendations or trail closures provided by local authorities or trail maintenance organizations.

Can I access the Tour du Mont Blanc by public transportation?

Yes, the Tour du Mont Blanc can be accessed by public transportation.

The trail passes through several towns and villages with transportation connections, such as bus or train stations.

The starting point in Les Houches, France, is easily accessible from the nearby city of Chamonix, which has great transportation links such as Rail, bus, and airport transfer.

Are there any age restrictions for staying in refuges along the TMB?

There are generally no age restrictions for staying in refuges.

However, it’s important to note that some refuges may have policies regarding children, and certain facilities or dormitories may not be suitable for young children or infants.

It’s advisable to check with the specific refuge or accommodation provider in advance if you plan to hike with children.

Can I use a GPS or mobile app for navigation on the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Yes, using a GPS device or mobile app for navigation on the TMB can be helpful.

There are various GPS devices and mobile apps available that provide detailed trail maps, route guidance, and track recording. However, it’s recommended to have a backup navigation method, such as a map and compass, as relying solely on electronic devices may be subject to battery life, signal availability, or technical issues.

We recommend using Alltrails as you can download maps to be available offline

Can I hike the Tour du Mont Blanc with a baby or young child?

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc is possible but not recommended.

Hiking the TMB with a baby or young child requires careful consideration and planning. The trail can be physically demanding, and carrying a child or pushing a stroller may not be feasible in certain sections.

It’s important to assess the child’s endurance, comfort, and safety. Many families opt for shorter sections or choose alternative activities suitable for young children.

Are there toilet facilities?

Along the Tour du Mont Blanc, toilet facilities are available at various points, including accommodations, refuges, campsites, cafes, and some rest areas along the trail.

In more remote areas, there may be fewer facilities, and hikers are expected to follow Leave No Trace principles, which include burying human waste in proper locations and carrying out any used toilet paper.

Are there charging facilities for electronic devices along the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Charging facilities for electronic devices, such as smartphones or camera batteries, may be available in some accommodations or restaurants along the Tour du Mont Blanc. However, it’s not guaranteed at every stop.

It’s advisable to bring portable power banks or extra batteries to ensure sufficient power for the duration of your hike.

Are there wildlife or nature conservation guidelines to follow?

Yes, while hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, it’s important to follow wildlife and nature conservation guidelines.

This includes:

  • Staying on designated trails
  • Not disturbing wildlife or their habitats
  • Properly disposing of waste
  • Leaving no trace of your visit.

It’s important to respect the environment and minimize your impact on the fragile alpine ecosystem.

Can I hike the TMB in trail running shoes?

While hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc in trail running shoes is possible for some experienced hikers, it is generally recommended to wear sturdy hiking boots.

The trail includes rocky and uneven terrain, steep sections, and potential hazards. Hiking boots provide better ankle support, protection, and traction, which are beneficial for the challenges of the trek.

If you don’t want to buy shoes or any hiking equipment for this journey, you can rent it.

Are there opportunities for swimming or bathing?

Along the Tour du Mont Blanc, there are opportunities for swimming or bathing in some areas, particularly in alpine lakes, rivers, or designated swimming spots.

These natural water bodies can offer refreshing experiences, especially during warmer weather. However, it’s essential to assess the safety and local regulations before swimming, as water conditions and temperatures can vary.

Can you rent hiking gear?

Yes, it is possible to rent equipment for the Tour du Mont Blanc. Many towns and villages along the route, such as Chamonix, offer rental services for hiking gear. Here are some common items that you can consider renting:

  1. Hiking boots: If you don’t have suitable hiking boots or prefer not to bring your own, you can rent sturdy hiking boots that provide proper ankle support and traction for the varied terrain.
  2. Backpacks: Rental shops often have backpacks available in different sizes to accommodate your needs. Look for backpacks with a capacity of around 30-40 liters, suitable for multi-day hikes.
  3. Sleeping bags: If you plan to stay in mountain huts or accommodations that require a sleeping bag, you can rent one instead of purchasing one. Ensure the sleeping bag is appropriate for the expected temperatures along the route.
  4. Trekking poles: Trekking poles can provide stability and reduce strain on your knees during steep ascents and descents. Rental shops usually offer trekking poles for hikers to use.
  5. Other equipment: Depending on the rental shop, you may also find other gear available for rent, such as headlamps, camping stoves, tents, and cooking utensils. However, availability can vary, so it’s recommended to check with rental shops in advance.

When renting your boots try them out for a hike in the local trails around town to ensure fit and comfort. You’re gonna be doing lots of miles over rough ground, painful feet are not an option.

If you decide to rent equipment, it’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during the peak hiking season when demand is higher. This ensures that the necessary gear is available when you need it and saves you from any last-minute inconveniences.

Here are some gear rental companies in Chamonix

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