Author Topic: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017  (Read 1540 times)

bricam2096

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The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« on: 19:39:14, 12/12/16 »
After doing many long distance trails in the UK over the last 5 years, I thought I'd be "brave" and look at a walk somewhere outside the UK and the Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB) in the French Alps is my choice for July 2017. I've read many blogs and websites over the last couple of months and the general opinion is that this is a very nice (but busy) walk.

I'm looking at doing it between 8 and 10 days but it's not huge distances every day and the daily ascent looks no more challenging than the Lakes section of the Coast To Coast, for example. I had thought about camping but thought the extra weight might spoil my enjoyment a little but then again the accommodation will be busy and noisy so maybe a tent isn't a bad idea.

I've found the planning of the walk quite easy and not as expensive as I thought, around the 350 plus flights and food which is over 1000 less than what some holiday companies are charging.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's done it how it compares with long distance trails in the UK and obviously any hints and tips  O0
LDWs done - 19 in total including 8 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 169
www.brians-walks.co.uk

gunwharfman

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #1 on: 12:24:02, 13/12/16 »
I've hiked it in 10 days in July three years ago, or was it four and really had a great time. Part of the fun was that it was a bit busy, a very international walk and I met loads and loads of people, all ages and sizes. I camped and found it so easy to find a good site and I also stayed in a couple of Refuges as well, the best being the Refuge Bonatti in Italy. Fantastic fun, the meal started at 7.00pm (about 100 people), all sober then but we were not for long! Singing, musicians, poetry, actors, all contributed to a great evening but I had hangover the next morning. I also wild camped behind some Refuges as well and paid to eat with the people staying there.

The best starting place, if starting from the Chamonix area, is also to walk the TMB anticlockwise. First, along an easy green footpath from the town centre (you can also catch a train or bus) and then start the hike proper at Les Houche. Very nice campsite about 150mts from the trail, lots of hotels and eating places. If you start at Les Houche, its a gradual up and down on the first day rather than a steep climb on the first day. If starting at Chamonix, you either have to catch a cable car to the top of a mountain and then start the trail, then followed by a steep downward plod to Les Houche, or to walk up the mountain to the trail (a long long slow plod, not so good if its blazing hot or its bad weather) and then still have to face face the downward plod to Les Houche. I personally found that hiking down to Les Houche on the last day was the best way for me to finish the walk.

Contamines has a lovely campsite (I ate my evening meal on a restaurant veranda overlooking a lake, beautiful!) and I had a free pitch at Les Chapieux and just loved Cormayeur. If you are now worn out and want to get back to Chamonix, just catch a bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel. I found the hardest decision to make was at Champex, to take the northern easier route or to take the harder Ferete d'Arpette route? I chose the northern route, it was a good choice, the views and the weather was perfect! I met an eccentric 80 year old Aussie in a Refuge en route at lunchtime. He did his 'walk' on a donkey and was totally in love with Prof. Alice Roberts, he wouldn't stop talking about her! I hiked over the Ferete 'd Arpette the following year when I attempted the Chamobix to Zermatt hike. It was really worth it!

Sorry to drone on but I really enjoyed every minute of this route!

gunwharfman

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #2 on: 12:48:48, 13/12/16 »
You may find this useful? Download the Wikiloc app onto your phone. Then download walk 7122520 and walk 7138692. You can now view the complete hike and if you walk it you can then follow the trail by GPS.

bricam2096

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #3 on: 17:13:09, 13/12/16 »
Thanks for the replies, and you certainly aren't droning on, I appreciate your experience. I have the map, guide book and the GPX files downloaded of the route and also the alternative stages as well as overloading my brain with numerous videos and blogs/websites and I'm sure many more before I set off  O0

I'd be starting in Les Houches, I felt it better to finish by descending by foot rather than down the cable car into Chamonix and I have a list of campsites if I choose to take that option. I'm in 2 minds about camping, Refuges or a mixture. I'm a fussy eater and some of the Refuges seem to be a "half board" only option which makes them quite expensive and I'd prefer to take something with me to eat that I know I'm going to like rather than what's on the limited menu.

Camping seems to be something you can do without booking but I know I'd end up getting to my chosen campsite too early and then heading to the next one meaning less days on the trail, finishing early and relaxing on the terrace with the scenery and a couple of beers appeals more or having a wander into the nearest village.

Refuge's will be busy which is good for company but not so good for sleep but I can book most of those online and thus have peace of mind before I set off. Refuge's mean I can carry less stuff and then maybe take my DSLR camera rather than my point and click and a few "luxuries".

Honestly, I change my mind every couple of days about camping/refuges and how many days, I have itineraries between 8 and 10 days and feel some days that I should do mileage that I'm used to doing rather than shorter days but shorter days mean more time to enjoy the scenery and a more enjoyable holiday and I guess the bottom line is that it's a holiday, not just an A to B walk.

I'd be interested to know how the TMB compares with your other foreign ventures  O0
LDWs done - 19 in total including 8 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 169
www.brians-walks.co.uk

altirando

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #4 on: 23:15:42, 13/12/16 »
Tell me if I am wrong, but does that mean you intend missing out the balcony trail on the northern side of the Chamonix valley, one of the best sections.  This is best walked west to east for views.

bricam2096

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #5 on: 11:06:02, 14/12/16 »
Tell me if I am wrong, but does that mean you intend missing out the balcony trail on the northern side of the Chamonix valley, one of the best sections.  This is best walked west to east for views.

To be honest I've no idea where this is, is it part of the TMB?

There is an option where I could finish the TMB in Les Houches and have a day or two there before I head home to either do touristy stuff or just chill.
LDWs done - 19 in total including 8 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 169
www.brians-walks.co.uk

gunwharfman

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #6 on: 11:22:51, 15/12/16 »
I obviously missed the 'Balcony Trail' when I hiked the TMB. I read this which mentions it -

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/jul/19/trekking-tour-du-mont-blanc-the-alps

gunwharfman

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #7 on: 11:37:27, 15/12/16 »
This was an accompanying article. One photo shows the writer lounging on a flat rock, been there, done that!

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/gallery/2015/jul/19/walking-tour-du-mont-blanc-alpine-odyssey-france-italy-switzerland

midweekmountain

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #8 on: 16:19:55, 15/12/16 »

Ave done a few long distance walks (LDW) in my time, buit none in the UK, can't see any point of spending my valuable holiday time plodding my home turf.

This photo was taken on the Crete d'Gites ridge near the Refuge De la Croix Du Bonhomme on the Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB).

At the time I was doing some work for a well known holiday company, a last minute hut to hut TMB vacancy cropped up so I volunteered and got the chance to guide the tour several times.

IMHO the best hut on the circuit is the CAF Croix Du Bonhomme Refuge, its an eco hut powered by windmills and solar cells. Each night the guardians the Guyan bros and their team cater for over100 pepes, the main meal is served by candlelight, after the meal Team Guyan who are great characters entertain their guests with an impromtu concert, anyone who can play an instrument or sing are invited to join in.

Great fun.....

Hey Brian does this mean you are thinking of using the climbing club huts  O0

bricam2096

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #9 on: 14:15:50, 11/01/17 »
The more I look at this, the more I think camping it is the easiest option. Firstly I have enough lightweight camping gear already so nothing to buy and by the sounds of it, no booking is required at the campsites so I can alter my itinerary if I wish to do so. My main concern is the food, I really don't fancy anything I've seen on the limited menus at the Refuge's and I grudge paying money at some of them which half board is compulsory and then not eat the food.

For breakfast, I'm not usually that bothered about breakfast, would prefer just to get up and away, and get to the destination earlier, sit around and take in the views with a couple of beers.

For tea, I'm happier just picking up some basic food like bread and cheese and making a sandwich or 2 or just a packet of biscuits and chocolate by my tent than sitting in a crowded Refuge eating stuff I don't or won't like.

The intention is to do the walk for the scenery, not the food  :D
LDWs done - 19 in total including 8 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 169
www.brians-walks.co.uk

gunwharfman

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #10 on: 15:09:22, 11/01/17 »
I found the food in the Refuges pretty good and plentiful. For me, the food and the wine was the last thing I was worried about, the best was the overall experience, sitting there on long bench tables, with up to 100 people around me all mixed up, men women, children from everywhere! The whole thing was a hoot, haven't enjoyed myself so much since uni days!

From then one I kept bumping into the people for days on end. It was really good fun. I think to get the best out of the Tour du Mont Blanc you need to treat it as a great hike and a wonderful social experience as well!

There is also one cafe I remember at the bottom of an Italian mountain at mid-day, can't remember its name (it had a Yurt on site) but once been, not forgotten I think. I was lucky, it was hot and sunny, people everywhere, chatting, drinking, laughing, swapping yarns, eating, drinking, lazing around and on that day I was able to watch a load of young men and women who ran to the top of the col and then back again, the place was buzzing! Really great!

bricam2096

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #11 on: 15:29:11, 11/01/17 »
I found the food in the Refuges pretty good and plentiful. For me, the food and the wine was the last thing I was worried about, the best was the overall experience, sitting there on long bench tables, with up to 100 people around me all mixed up, men women, children from everywhere! The whole thing was a hoot, haven't enjoyed myself so much since uni days!

From then one I kept bumping into the people for days on end. It was really good fun. I think to get the best out of the Tour du Mont Blanc you need to treat it as a great hike and a wonderful social experience as well!

If I got to a Refuge and saw something that I fancied for tea, then that would be different but I'm very fussy about food. The social experience is however something that I have enjoyed on my other long distance walks and this is what I look forward to on the trail.

I have no doubt that if I return home from this and have enjoyed it as much as I think I will, I will be inclined to do more walks abroad. Sadly for now I'm still working so can't do the kind of treks that you do over months.
LDWs done - 19 in total including 8 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 169
www.brians-walks.co.uk

bricam2096

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #12 on: 19:51:41, 29/01/17 »
 :D Now fully booked for this trip, mostly in Refuges but also a few Hotels along the way to treat myself. Flight also booked for Geneva, just the bus to Chamonix to sort out when the tickets go on sale.

One of my "friends" expressed an interest in joining me, however a few days later the "friend" de-friended me on FB so I guess that's me told  :D
LDWs done - 19 in total including 8 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 169
www.brians-walks.co.uk

gunwharfman

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #13 on: 20:55:12, 29/01/17 »
Have a really great time. Hopefully I will be in Spain hiking the GR11 at the same time. When you are walking between Les Houche and Contamines and if you find a 50 Euro note lying in the grass or under a stone, its mine! I told my wife I lost it, she still remembers and reminds me to make sure my cash is safe when I go out!

bricam2096

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Re: The Tour De Mont Blanc (TMB), July 2017
« Reply #14 on: 22:02:12, 29/01/17 »
Have a really great time. Hopefully I will be in Spain hiking the GR11 at the same time. When you are walking between Les Houche and Contamines and if you find a 50 Euro note lying in the grass or under a stone, its mine! I told my wife I lost it, she still remembers and reminds me to make sure my cash is safe when I go out!

Oh, I'll be looking for it now  :D Did you take the low route or the alternative route?.....err, just out of interest?
LDWs done - 19 in total including 8 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 169
www.brians-walks.co.uk