Tighten your bootlaces one final time for the Tour du Mont Blanc finale! There’s a climb to Le Brévent which, at 2,525 metres, offers a dramatic 360° panorama, before a long leg-busting descent into Les Houches… back where it all began!
Congratulations - today’s the day you complete your full circular loop of the Mont Blanc massif. You’ve seen this mountain range from every point of the compass and the very act of walking has allowed the mountains to reveal their secrets; glaciers, peaks, rivers, alpine meadows - you’ve seen it all! You’ve met the locals from three unique countries who live in the shadows of this mountain and you’ve encountered others who, like you, have made a pilgrimage here to witness some of Europe’s finest nature. Your opponent – the mountains – aren’t diminished by your victory but have instead demonstrated their majesty, and hopefully instilled in you a new appreciation of their splendour.
The final day of walking reaches a high-point, from both an elevation and an experiential perspective, at Le Brévent. For years this has been recognised as one of the best vantage points to gaze across the Chamonix Valley to the icy dome of Mont Blanc, and it seems a fitting conclusion to the trip, and one that’s sure to leave an imprint in your memory. There are a few fixed ladders and rocky scrambles on the walk up to Brevent, which vertigo-sufferers may find challenging, you can skip these by taking the cable car to skip this section.
On the long descent from Le Brévent you might begin to recognise features you saw roughly 170 kilometres ago, like the Bellevue Gondola, the Col de Voza or Les Houches itself, that provide a fitting sense of completion.
It is a long descent from Le Brévent to Les Houches so break it up with a break in the Refuge de Bellachat.
There are a few fixed ladders and rocky scrambles which vertigo-sufferers may find challenging, you can skip these by taking the cable car up to Brevent. There are several river crossings. There are always stepping-stones available but these may be slippery, and especially when wet. Take extra caution on these crossings.
Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.
There are some exposed edges; be sure to read instructions carefully, stick to the main path, and don’t wander close to the edge. Use handrails where provided.
In early spring/summer there may still be patches of snow. Walk around where it is possible, and otherwise place your feet carefully and use walking poles if you have them.
This route is above 2,500 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.
Such is the way of Alpine hiking that you need to be prepared for all seasons and weathers; sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required, as is plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.
Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
This walk is isolated with few opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.
Points of Interest
The Aiguilles Rouge translates as the ‘Red Peaks’ due to its presence of iron-rich rocks, and is a separate massif on the opposite side of the valley to Mont Blanc. Due to the significant biodiversity in this area, the Aiguilles Rouge National Nature Reserve was formed to protect it in 1974. Ibex, chamois and golden eagle all call this region ‘home’ and if you keep your eyes peeled, you might get a lucky sighting.
A 25-metre high statue of Christ pokes above the pine trees from its lofty perch on the mountain slopes overlooking Les Houches. It was constructed in 1933, and you will pass right beside it on the TMB trail.
The rocky promontory of Le Brévent sits at 2,525 metres elevation in the Aiguilles Rouges and is perfectly situated to gaze across at the Mont Blanc massif and down into the Chamonix Valley. It was from here that early pioneers plotted their route to the then-unclimbed summit of Mont Blanc. Since 1930 it has been possible to travel up by gondola, and today climbing, skiing, hiking and wingsuit flying are all popular around here.
Chamonix– Planpraz Cable Car - Check the up to date information here: http://www.chamonix.com/planpraz-brevent,82,en.html
Approx €15.00 single ticket from Chamonix. This cable car runs until approx. 16th of September, after this time you will need to ascend on foot (approx. 900m ascent)
Brévent – Plan Praz – Chamonix Cable Car - Check the up to date information here: http://www.chamonix.com/planpraz-brevent,82,en.htm l
Approx €15.00 for a single ticket
Les Houches – Chamonix by bus - Check the up to date information here: https://www.chamonix.net/english/transport/bus
Les Houches – Chamonix by train - You can take the Mont Blanc Express from the station at Les Houches to Chamonix. Check the up to date information here: https://uk.voyages-sncf.com/en/?redirect=yes#/
Food and Drink
Between Planpraz and Les Houches there are few opportunities to buy food or drink so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.
You will reach Refuge de Bellachat after 5.5 kilometres, which has a beautiful terrace overlooking the Mont Blanc massif, and is a good place to break up the long descent.