The Tour of Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc 2008

Mont Blanc

Chamonix
Chamonix

The Tour du Mont Blanc (or TMB for short) is one of the finest long distance footpaths in Europe.
Depending upon exactly which route variants you take, it involves a distance of some 170km (105 miles) and an accumulated height gain and loss of some 10,000 m (about 33,000 ft).

TMB - Showing some variants
TMB - Showing some variants

From a low point of 1007m the Tour climbs several times to over 2500m and it is this constant ascent and descent which provide both the challenge and the reward of the ten days or so it takes to complete.
Elizabeth and I did the more conventional anticlockwise version, but instead of starting at Les Houches (as I have done four times previously), we waited for the pouring rain that greeted us on arrival at Geneva to subside and first spent a couple of enjoyable days in Chamonix.

Being a very enthusiastic photographer, Elizabeth was very quickly capturing the scenery, grandeur and character of the Alps.

It is with thanks to Elizabeth that I include the majority of photos in this account.

Visit her blog pages on www.giftsofthejourney.wordpress.com

Getting there
We flew from Bristol to Geneva with Easyjet. An overnight in Geneva is pleasant, but not essential if you get the right timings.
Transport from Geneva to Chamonix is cheapest by train, but involves several changes.
Tour buses operated by SAT leave Geneva Gare Routier (Bus Station -just off Rue Mont Blanc, near the Lake outlet) at 08.30 daily. This is the fastest way to travel to Chamonix, but this year cost €36 each, one way.
Getting from Geneva Airport to the City Centre is easy and cheap. Either go by train, or more scenically, the Number 10 trolleybus at the upper level end of the Airport Concourse. The tricky bit is getting a ticket! The system relies mostly on trust and you need either 3 Swiss Francs or €2 to insert into the machine, but beware, they don’t give change !
A red button guides you to the easiest option – a time limited single ticket. You don’t have to show the driver the ticket or get it ‘composited’ in a machine, in fact it seems you only need to produce it for a spot check. Hotels offer free tickets for the duration of your stay, so clearly there is an emphasis on getting people to use public transport rather than optimising income !

Lake Geneva with the fountain in the background

Day 1 (click)

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TMB Day 1

Day 1 - Chamonix to Les Houches

Day 1 – Chamonix to Les Houches

After the weather made a start on 4 September 2008 look decidedly unwise, Elizabeth and I set out for Les Houches on Sunday 7 September 2008.

We had already walked from Les Houches to Chamonix via the ‘Statue du Christ Roi’ the previous day and thus considered that leg ‘done’ with a second walk along the River Arve, through the pretty villages that nestle along its banks in the Chamonix Valley.

Chamonix - Elizabeth on the footbridge over the River Arve

Chamonix – Elizabeth on the footbridge over the River Arve
Chamonix Valley - Les Gaillands
Chamonix Valley - Les Gaillands
Statue du Christ Roi overlooking Les Houches
Statue du Christ Roi overlooking Les Houches

Les Houches
Les Houches