The penultimate day and the Tour du Mont Blanc is determined to leave you with a lasting memory! Today’s views are enchanting as you climb from Tré-le-Champ and then traverse the famous Balcon Sud to finish in Planpraz, from where a gondola will drop you into Chamonix.
After the spectacle of the last 1-2 weeks you may find it impossible to believe that the Tour du Mont Blanc has saved its best for last but today you embark on the walk’s wonderful finale along the Grand Balcon Sud. The path beings further down the road from Tre Le Champ than the traditional route to avoid the ladder section. Throughout the whole Tour du Mont Blanc never have the glaciers, rocky spires and snowy peaks felt as vivid and near as they do today.
You will have stayed in Argentiere or Chamonix the night before. To return to Tré-le-Champ, you might need to take a bus to Montruc as this route runs more regularly, and then walk to Tré-le-Champ which takes 10-15 minutes. Full bus schedule available here; https://chamonix.montblancbus.com/en/bus-lines
From Planpraz it is recommended to take the Planpraz gondola (payable locally) down into Chamonix. Buy a return ticket to allow you to head up the following day and continue hiking towards Les Houches. Be aware that the final gondola descent is generally around 16:30; if you miss this it is a long walk down. Full information available here: https://www.chamonix.com/lifts,88,en.html
Enjoy a hearty lunch at the Refuge du Lac Blanc, enjoying the reflections of the mountain peaks in the still glacial waters.
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 2,200 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.
Points of Interest
The walk to Lac Blanc is one of the Chamonix classics and so you might find these footpaths a little more trafficked than other sections of the Tour du Mont Blanc. It is however deserving of this attention; just wait until you stand on the shores of this glacial lake at 2,352 metres, spot the craggy peaks reflected in its blue waters, and gaze at the dramatic panorama of the Mont Blanc massif.
Bus from Chamonix to Tré-le-Champ: A regular shuttle bus operates from Argentière to Col des Montets. Take this and alight at Tré-le-Champ. Enquire at the tourist office or your hotel for timetables.
Le Flégère – Les Praz de Chamonix Telepherique: Check the up to date information here - http://www.chamonix.com/flegere-index,83,en.html
Approx €15:00 for a single ticket (then take the shuttle bus to central Chamonix)
Plan Praz – Chamonix Telepherique - Check the up to date information here - http://www.chamonix.com/planpraz-brevent,82,en.html
Approx €15.00 single ticket from Plan Praz.
Food and Drink
Between Tré-le-Champ and Planpraz there are few opportunities to buy food or drink so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.
You will reach Refuge du Lac Blanc and Refuge La Flégère, both of which serve food and drink. In terms of the surrounding atmosphere, the Refuge du Lac Blanc cannot be beaten as a place to stop.