THE TOUR DU MONT BLANC

The region:
The Mont Blanc massif forms the frontier between Italy and France.   It forms the western end of the alpine chain, with Mont Blanc being the highest summit in western Europe - 4810m at the last count.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is certainly the best known long distance trek in Europe and is justifiably popular. This trek goes all the way around the massif, not only into France and Italy but also into Switzerland at the western end of the massif.  This makes the trek very varied as the countries all have their own characteristics. The borders have changed in relatively recent history and French is spoken throughout, although Italian will nevertheless be useful.  Here the similarites end though and the different food and culture make this trek just as much as the views.  
Mont Blanc itself is very different when seen from France as opposed to Italy - the south Italian face is very steep and imposing whereas the French side presents a gentle snow dome. T he whole massif is formed of glaciated peaks and every time you reach a high pass there is a new view.  

The walks:
I choose to begin this trek on the French side since that’s where I live.   We go in an anticlockwise direction for various reasons and this is the usual direction.  High passes are crossed every day, and we take some lifts and transport to avoid the road sections and to take advantage of all the high variants. This enables us to complete the trek in 7 days, with the most interesting walking and without losing sight of our objective.  By carefully choosing the accommodation we’ll avoid any crowded sections of the trek and will find plenty of solitude.

Previous Experience and Energy requirements:
Any alpine walking involves lots of uphill and downhill and is far more enjoyable when you've done some exercise beforehand. This trek is accessible to all keen hillwalkers, or anyone practising aerobic sports regularly. The length of the days varies, but you can expect to be outside for a maximum of 7-8 hours. Some days are shorter, and this time is not just walking - it includes rests, picnics, photo stops and time just to take to all in.   
The huts provide food and bedding so sacs can be kept as light as possible and should weigh no more than 8 kilos, less if you keep to a minimum.
It is essential that your boots are comfortable and that you are prepared for all the mountains can throw at you, from blazing sun to snow.

Equipment:
A full list will be sent on booking. Requirements are basic: walking clothes for hot and cold weather, raingear, comfortable medium size rucsac with waist belt, good boots, trekking poles recommended. And of course, a camera.

Accommodation:
The holiday is costed on double occupancy in hotels and dormitory accommodation in huts. This trek involves a great variety of accommodation, from a basic hut in a superb position, to new luxury refuges in Italy and Switzerland.  All provide good facilities and you can have a shower every night if you wish!  The first and last nights are both in the same hotel in Argentière, near Chamonix and excess gear can be left there.
In the hotels it may be possible to arrange a single room which will entail a supplement.  Ask for details.

Medical Conditions and First Aid:
I will always carry a comprehensive first aid kit as well as the means to get help if necessary. However, you must tell me of any medical conditions you may have and any medication you are taking, if it could have any bearing at all on the holiday. Also please bring a small blister kit as my supplies could quickly run low.

Currency:
The holiday price includes accommodation (bed breakfast and dinner), guiding, and any planned travel. It does not include picnic food, drinks and travel to and from the holiday meeting point. Be aware that many places do not accept credit cards and that ATM machines are not routinely available in small alpine villages. Best to bring cash and travellers cheques. Euros are accepted everywhere on this trek, including Switzerland.

Insurance:
It is essential that you have insurance for rescue, and medical costs and repatriation.  I recommend you also have holiday insurance.  I can advise on this or you can arrange your own with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).

Visa requirements:
EU citizens do not need a visa to travel within the EU. A valid passport is required though. Other nationalities should enquire at their respective embassies.

Travel:
The nearest airport for Argentière, the meeting place, is Geneva . From here you can take the train if you wish or I can arrange a minibus transfer to and from the hotel.

Further details:
A full itinerary will be available on booking. For further details don't hesitate to ask: info@trekkinginthealps.com

Trekking in the Alps
Chemin des Biolles
Vallorcine 74660
FRANCE
Tel:    0033 4 50 54 62 09
Fax:   0033 4 50 54 63 29
www.trekkinginthealps.com