Mont Blanc Explorer
Day 1 Chamonix
Today is the arrival day so there are no planned activities and you may arrive at any time throughout the day (please note that check-in at the hotel is usually around 2-3pm). Look out for a message from your CEO at the hotel reception detailing the time and location for an important meeting in the evening, during which you will meet your CEO and fellow group members, as well as complete some admin and learn more about the trip. After the meeting, you may choose to join your CEO and travel companions for an optional dinner in a local restaurant. If you arrive late, no worries, your CEO will leave you a message detailing where they can be contacted and when to meet the following morning. Please note that the Hotel Chamonix is affiliated with the nearby Hotel Crete Blanche and that in some cases the group could be divided between the two hotels in Chamonix. These two lovely hotels in the centre of Chamonix have everything we need to enjoy the area and get a good rest before and after our hikes. The interior of the hotels are all in wood, giving them a very typical alpine atmosphere. The Mont Blanc mountain range is one of the most spectacular regions in the Alps. Marked trails straddle three countries (France, Italy and Switzerland) and cross over mountain passes allowing hikers to enjoy the magnificent scenery on the Tour du Mont Blanc loop. The majesty of Mont Blanc with the summer flora of wildflowers, shrubbery and trees has inspired generations of alpine visitors, and this region has been attracting mountaineers and hikers from around the world for over two hundred years. Late spring to summer is the best time for hiking in this area. The town of Chamonix is an authentic French mountain town located at the foot of Mont Blanc. It lies in one of the most picturesque valleys of the French Alps, with innumerable alpine peaks towering around you, pine forests, alpine valleys to explore, and beautiful glaciers spilling from the high massif. The town is home to 10,000 inhabitants, swelling to 100,000 during peak season. This evening is our first opportunity to try some alpine specialities in a typical restaurant. It will be hard to choose from such delights as cheese fondue, tartiflette or raclette perhaps accompanied by some famous "Vin de Savoie" wine. Overnight in Chamonix.
Day 2 Les Houches/Chamonix
Approximate walking time: 6hrs Today we will head out in the Chamonix valley for our first hike. We will hike up the steep-sided Chamonix valley for views across to the peaks and glaciers. Start your trek in Montroc, ascend Aguillette des Posettes before descending via Charamaillon to Le Tour/Montroc (option of descent partway via cablecar for sore limbs!) The ascents and descents on this day are quite long but the ground is relatively easy. We gain height gently in switchbacks, on a narrow trail across mountain turf and rock. There are superb views across to Mont Blanc, and relatively easy ground underfoot make this an easier day than the elevation gain may at first suggest. Overnight in Chamonix. Height gain: 800m (2600ft) Descent: 750m (2460ft)
Day 3 Chamonix
Taking a break from our walking, we'll spend today exploring the Chamonix region with various optional activities to suit everyone's interests. Why not take a recommended cable car ride up the famous Aiguille du Midi and across the glaciers to Punta Helbronner in Italy. Or if you want some excitement, you can opt to join a canyoning or rafting trip, or go parapenting - these activities are available and bookable locally and your CEO will have suggestions for where to do this. For a more relaxing day, you can choose to stay at resort level and enjoy some local hikes in the area or perhaps visit the local leisure centre. One good hike in the area starts in Les Praz by the pretty medieval church. Walk through shady woods and along the tumbling glacial waters of the River Arve to Argentiere, where we can enjoy a stop at one of the cafes before catching the local bus back to Chamonix. (Height gain approx 300m). Don't miss the chance to try some of the local speciality food that this region is famous for in one of the town's many excellent bars and restaurants! Overnight in Chamonix.
Day 4 Lac du Miage/Courmayeur
Approximate walking time: 5hrs We travel by bus this morning, through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, crossing the Italian border to the town of Courmayeur. Here we will drop off our bags and head out for a day hike in Val Veny, with spectacular views up the valley to the Col de la Seigne and the Miage glacier. Courmayeur lies at the foot of Mont Blanc, close to the French border in the Aosta Valley. It is a characteristic Italian village of cobbled streets, stylish shops and excellent cafés and bistros, all set within an attractive medieval centre. This evening we will have the opportunity to try out some of the best Aosta region specialities in one of Courmayeur's atmospheric restaurants. Among others don't miss "Seupette de Cogne" made of bread, fontina (local cheese), butter and stock, civet or stews. Just ask your CEO for some of the best recommendations. Overnight in Courmayeur. Our hotel in Courmayeur is cosy and atmospheric, a traditional Aosta Valley structure with ample recreational space including an outdoor terrace and garden for soaking up some of the mountain sunshine in the summer months.
Day 5 Courmayeur (1B)
This morning, wander the cobbled streets of Courmayeur with its wide selection of local cheeses and other gourmet Alpine specialities. Take the chance to purchase a light lunch or snack to take along on your optional excursions today. Enjoy a free day in the Courmayeur region to take advantage of some optional activities of your choice such as taking a bus to La Palud, followed by a magnificent cable car ride to Pointe Helbronner and back. Your Tour Leader will let you know more about other options such as mountain biking, hiking, a day visit to the town of Aosta or for a bit of indulgent relaxation at the wonderful Pré St Didier Spa. Overnight in Courmayeur.
Day 6 Courmayeur/Planpincieux (1B)
Another walking day today as we stretch our legs with a fabulous route, setting off up the steep winding path to Rifugio Bertona and then on around the flank of the hillside to where a magnificent panoramic view of Mont Blanc awaits. We start in Courmayeur, where we will have time to shop for picnic supplies. Then walk to the village of Villair and from here up a zig-zag path (steep at times), first through shady trees and then more open rocky country to Rifugio Bertone situated high above the Courmayeur Valley, where we will have time for a refreshing cold drink. The path then contours delightfully around the flank of the Mont de la Saxe for a picnic lunch at an elevation of 2000m, with magnificent views onto the south face of Mont Blanc. The spring flowers on this route are absolutely superb. We descend to the Planpincieux valley and our local bus back to Courmayeur. Overnight in Courmayeur. Approximate walking time: 5hrs Height gain: 850m (2800m)
Day 7 La Flégère/Chamonix (1B)
Approximate walking time: 6hrs We catch a morning bus from Courmayeur back through the Mont Blanc Tunnel to Chamonix. From here we'll set off on our last day's walking, taking the cable car to the alpine slopes high above the Chamonix valley for magnificent views of the Grandes Jorasses, the Dru and the Mer de Glace glacier This evening why not try out a local Chamonix brewery for a farewell hearty dinner and a pint of lager made from glacial fed water!
Day 8 Chamonix
Depart Chamonix at any time.