Les Houches to Les Contamines-Montjoie; 10 miles (about 6 hours of walking), moderate to challenging, 700-ft. elevation gain, 3, 405-ft. elevation loss
Your exploration of the legendary Mont Blanc Circuit begins in Chamonix, the mountaineering capital of the Alps. Following an early morning meeting, you transfer by bus to the nearby village of Les Houches for a cable car ascent to Bellevue (literally “beautiful view”), and the start of the hiking circuit.
Today’s hike offers exceptional views of the Aiguille (“needle”) de Bionnassay, with its dramatic glacier and soaring rock spires. The route also provides an excellent introduction to the unique flora of this region. Martagon lily, masterwort, and gentian are among the flowers that adorn the mountainsides, and are protected as an integral part of this incredible area. You traverse varied terrain, including narrow paths, rocky glacial debris, and a suspension bridge with breathtaking views of the Col de Tricot, perfectly shaped as a saddle. The trail then descends toward the small hamlet of Champel, nicely shaded by a coniferous forest.
Following lunch at a mountain cottage, you continue through tiny villages, boasting alpine architecture and lovely gardens overflowing with ripe vegetables. Your destination is the attractive village of Les Contamines-Montjoie, once home to chamois hunters, and today a popular mountaineering and ski resort.
You are welcomed at a cozy family-run hotel nestled in the Montjoie Valley. There is time to relax or have a dip in the pool before gathering again for a welcome drink and excellent dinner of local specialties served in your hotel’s dining room.