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Refuges

Tour du Mont Blanc Huts – the good, the bad & the ugly

Refuge Col du Bonhomme du Croix

Do yourself a favour and book your Tour du Mont Blanc huts early – it’s the single most best advice that anyone should give you.

Be sure to read up on which Tour du Mont Blanc huts are the nicest to stay in before you plan your itinerary. Of course, some of you won’t mind – it simply being a bed to crash in before hitting the trail again the next day. For others refuges a HUGE part of the Tour du Mont Blanc experience. I’m firmly in the latter camp and there are, put simply, a few refuges that I will NEVER stay in on the TMB!

Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges

budgets, standards and expectations

Each individual hiker or group trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc will have different budgets, standards and expectations.

There are a huge number of Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation providers on the trail that can meet your individual needs, whether you’re hiking the TMB on a shoestring (where camping is going to be your only option) or booking ensuite rooms for added comfort.

Book your Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges Early!

Take your time to plan your route, plan early & book early

Take your time planning your self guided Tour du Mont Blanc route. It’s tricky as it’s hard to know the difficulty of each stage and therefore how long it will take (especially if you’re hiking with children). This ultimately affects which TMB refuge you can realistically get to each day. Read our full Self Guided Tour du Mont Blanc Guide here.

To bag the best Tour du Mont Blanc refuges, you should ideally you be booking your accommodation as early as January or February. This means you should have already planned how which itinerary to follow, how far you want to walk each day & ultimately which refuges you want to stay at.

Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges – everything you need to know

Because each Tour du Mont Blanc refuge needs to be booked individually – if you leave booking your refuges too late, you’re left with a challenging (and stressful) task of having to re-route your planned itinerary accordingly.  This is why planning early is crucial – doubly so when planning to trek the Tour du Mont Blanc with kids.

Planning your TMB route early means having a CHOICE of refuges and is truly the key to making the planning of your Tour du Mont Blanc trek enjoyable and easy rather than frustrating and stressful. 

If you’re doing the Tour du Mont Blanc on a budget and merely looking to get your head down for the night, then camping or hostel type refuges with cavernous dorms will suit you fine. Camping is generally allowed close to each refuge but not on the trail. If you don’t want to lug huge amounts of food along with you, it’s possible to eat at the refuges.

If, like me, you’re trekking with kids or with an older generation family member then the standard of Tour du Mont Blanc refuges take more importance and could make or break you (or one of your group) after a 7-10 hour day hiking at high altitude. Do your homework and plan according to what your needs are.

The Tour du Mont Blanc refuges and hotels are listed in order of hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc counter clockwise starting from Chamonix.

At the end of the post there is a handy list of which refuges have private rooms, dorms only or both. This is useful if you  wish to only stay in private rooms during your Tour du Mont Blanc trek. 

Planning your TMB route early means having a CHOICE of refuges and is truly the key to making the planning of your Tour du Mont Blanc trek enjoyable and easy rather than frustrating and stressful.

Contents

Types of Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation
Our biggest tip on booking refuges on the Tour du Mont Blanc
What are the best TMB refuges?

Refuge Nant Borrant – France
Refuge de la Balme – France
Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme – France
Refuge de la Nova – France
Chambres des Soleil – France 

Refuge Les Mottets – France
Refugio Elisabetta – Italy
Cabane Combal – Italy
Refugio Bertone – Italy
Refugio Bonatti – Italy
Chalet Val Ferret, Val Ferret – Italy
Refugio Elena, Grand Col Ferret – Italy
Alpage de la Peule, near La Fouly – Switzerland
Hotel Belvedere, Champex-Lac – Switzerland
La Grande Ourse, Trient – Switzerland
Auberge Mont Blanc, Trient – Switzerland
Refuge le Peuty, Trient – Switzerland
Refuge du Col de Balme – France
Auberge la Boerne – France
Refuge du Lac Blanc – France
TMB Accommodation – Private Rooms, Dorms Only or both?

Types of Tour du Mont Blanc Accommodation

The Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation on this famous trail varies enormously from super sweet chocolate box wooden chalets, mammoth sized basic remote refuges to comfy B&B’s. 

For some of the 10 nights on the trail, you’ll be able to choose from cosy hotels and B&Bs in quaint villages and towns on the valley floor. Other sections of the trail require you to sleep at high altitude in mountain refuges. These can be varied in size and comfort, but in my opinion are far more exciting!

TMB refuges offer a half board option, meaning you get dinner and breakfast included, although you can book just a bed. Most trekkers take the half board option as the weight of carrying food supplies along on the trek is unpractical. In some refuges half board is mandatory. 

Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation costs can really mount up for a family to hike the TMB with typical refuge tariffs between 50-60 euros per night, going up to easily 80-85 Swiss francs (around the same in euros) in Switzerland. If you’re on a budget, plan to spend less time in Switzerland, meaning walking further each day, or even cutting a stage out by taking the bus.

Which are the best Tour du Mont Blanc refuges on the trail?

It’s important to know which are the best Tour du Mont Blanc refuges before you plan your trek and book your TMB accommodation. 

On the Italian side – the Bonatti Refugio and Refuge Elena huts have been completely re-renovated and have been labelled ‘palaces’ on the tour. They are close together though on the trail so you wouldn’t really stay at both. If you have a choice, Bonatti is hands down my favourite.

On the French side, Nant Borrant (just before crossing the Col du Bonhomme), Auberge de la Boerne (Tré-le-Champ), Lac Blanc and Les Mottets are all excellent. The Lac Blanc refuge has now re-opened after being closed for a couple of years, so this is fantastic news for TMB hikers – the spot is magical.

TMB refuges lac Blanc

Our biggest Tour du Mont Blanc refuge tip

If I were to give you one tip on booking any Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation, it would be to book LES CHAPIEUX first. Les Chapieux is a tiny hamlet and is the second night’s accommodation if you are hiking the traditional counter-clockwise direction starting from Les Houches. Les Chapieux only has three accommodation options – Refuge de la Nova, Les Chambres du Soleil or camping.

If you do not book early enough at Les Chapieux you will fail to secure this night’s accommodation on the trail. Yes you heard right. There is no other option apart from completely leaving the trail and catching a 30 minute taxi ride (45-60 euros one way) from Les Chapieux to the town of Bourg St Maurice. The next day you’ll need to catch a taxi all the way back to Chapieux to resume the trail. This will cost you a lot, be more inconvenient (especially after a long and arduous day’s trek) and be much less special than staying in Les Chapieux. 

If you can’t get into Les Chapieux, the next step is to immediately check the availability of Refuge des Mottets. A charmingly recently restored dairy farm, Refuge des Mottets has good accommodation, serves excellent food and is right at the base of the next col, Col de la Seigne which will take you over into Italy. 

Refuge des Mottets is an hour’s extra hike from the hamlet of Les Chapieux but if you’re exhausted already, you can easily catch a shuttle bus (which takes 30 mins) from the information hut at Les Chapieux straight to the Refuge des Mottets’s parking. Here is the 2019 shuttle timetable. I will update this with the 2020 timetable as soon as it is released, towards the end of the winter.

TMB refuges Italy

I know all of this because I FAILED TO BOOK CHAPIEUX FIRST. My misconception was to book Elisabetta over everything else and didn’t have time to book the rest of our accommodation until after I got back from our May (yes! May!) trip to the Highlands of Scotland. Of course, Chapieux was completely and utterly booked up by my wretched, miserable attempts at a late May booking for mid- July. I then set about having to research from pure necessity the available options. I held off booking one of the many hotels in Bourg St Maurice and phoned two weeks ahead of our trip to ask about cancellations at Refuge de La Nova and Chambres des Soleil . I was lucky – the universe provided and a private 3 bed room at Refuge de la Nova fell into our profoundly grateful laps. 

If needs be, you can book a taxi from Taxis BURGOT – Tel: +33 (0) 6 86 24 23 83 to reach Les Mottets refuge from Les Chapieux or to get a ride into Bourg Saint-Maurice after the last shuttle buses have left.

Refuge sleeping liner

Did you know it’s mandatory to take your own sleeping bag liner with you to stay in the Tour du Mont Blanc refuges? You can rent one for around €3 per night or we’d recommend buying a lightweight silk liner

LIST OF TOUR DU MONT BLANC REFUGES

Below we give you the lowdown, counter clockwise, of the Tour du Mont Blanc refuges. They are not ranked in any order of preference but rather the order they are on the trail starting anti-clockwise, assuming you are starting your Tour du Mont Blanc in Chamonix.

French refuges

Refuge Nant Borrant

A charming, very friendly cosy refuge located 1 hour on the trail after Les Contamines. Excellent food.

Nant Borrant refuge is the perfect place to bed down for your first night if you’ve started traditionally in Les Houches & gone counter clockwise.

It’s the first refuge on the trail after Les Contamines. We’ve stayed here before shunning the traditional first night’s stop in the town of Les Contamines, to get a head start on the long stage 2 day. If you take the short cut of the Bellevue cable car (which saves you 2 hours uphill climb in Les Houches) and take the shuttle bus along the Les Contamines valley floor (saves another hour), it’s completely doable to push on up to the first refuge on the trail to cut an hour off the second (and arguably the most challenging day) the following day. Plus the hour from Chapelle Notre Dame de la Gorge to Nant Borrant is a punishing climb – I’d rather tackle it late in the day and relax with a glass of vino then do it first thing in the morning and then have to face the Col du Bonhomme as well!

Nant Borrant Refuge is a small, wonderfully friendly refuge serving delicious food. With three small dormitories of 6 and two large dormitories of 12, the vibe here is intimate and welcoming. We have stayed here and would highly recommend a night here on your TMB trail if it fits with your trail times.

Read other trekker’s opinion of Nant Borrant here on Trip Advisor.

The feeble and tepid showers and questionably marginal views (compared with the high altitude huts) are the only negatives to this wonderful refuge but don’t let this put you off – the hospitality, comfy beds and mouthwatering food far outweighs our shower gripes! 

Tip: If you choose a different Tour du Mont Blanc itinerary and hit Refuge Nant Borrant at lunchtime take advantage of their fabulous lunchtime menu!

2020 tariff:  half board €45,  dorm only €20

http://www.refuge-nantborrant.com

Tel: 00 33 (0) 4 50 47 03 57

refugenantborrant@free.fr

Refuge de la Balme (1706m)

Try to avoid staying here. Reports of unfriendly staff, average food outlay the convenient location at the base of the Cold du Bonhomme. Good bivvy site. Great views.

The second refuge on Stage 2 of the Tour du Mont Blanc is well positioned at the base of Col du Bonhomme (2329m).

We haven’t stayed here but did enquire to have a look at the rooms to which unfriendly staff told us it was not possible. Other trekkers we met on the trail confirmed that staff were belligerent and food was at best average. Definitely not the best refuge to stay on the trail…….

Others highly recommended the bivvy site here, which does have outdoors toilet facilities although not particularly clean.

Read other trekker’s opinion of La Balme refuge here on Trip Advisor

Women’s hiking shorts

If you’re looking for a pair of comfy, fast drying hiking shorts for the Tour du Mont Blanc, check out Rab’s excellent Helix shorts

Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme (2483m)

The stunning high altitude & convenient location of this refuge make it seem the perfect place to stop. However, some hikers might not like how basic the refuge is or how terrible the food is. Fact.

Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme is a rough and ready high altitude refuge in an unforgivingly exposed location on top of the Col du Croix du Bonhomme at 2483m. 

It fitted perfectly into my planned TMB itinerary with manageable chunks per day for the kids. I was just about to book when a friend advised me against it. She’d heard it described as a hovel by an ‘unnamed’ guide who regularly treks the Tour du Mont Blanc with clients. I (painfully) went back to the drawing board, scrubbing out this stop and had to pore long and hard to try to re-arrange the itinerary into doable sections.

I’m glad I did, for as welcome as this refuge would be in raging wind, rain and fog, it’s pretty basic. Perfect for the budget conscious and ‘adequate’ for families but marching on a bit, you’d find better accommodation with tastier food. 

We stopped here for lunch. Don’t. We regretted not ordering the pique-nique lunch from the wonderful Refuge Nant Borrant.

HOWEVER .…… for those looking to shorten stages on the TMB, perhaps you’re hiking with younger kids or just want to take it a lot easier and enjoy the stunning scenery instead of the pressure of walking 7-9 hours a day, then Refuge de la Bonhomme is perfectly placed. 

The accommodation has been recently renovated so there’s no problem there, and the location is heart stopping beautiful – so just know the food is terrible. Take A LOT of snacks (easy to do picking up in Les Contamines the day before) and know that you might not get a shower.

Knowing the negatives in advance, can set expectations to just purely see this stop as the high mountain adventure that it is, and know that the accommodation on the trail will get better and better.

Our shortened half tour TMB itinerary adds another day into the schedule (below) to make the stages shorter for those hiking with kids or who want to take it slower. This itinerary would actually include a stop here.

Day 1: Chamonix – Les Contamines or Nant Borrant.

Day 2: Les Contamines or Nant Borrant to Refuge de la Bonhomme. 

Day 3: Refuge de la Bonhomme to Les Chapieux or Refuge des Mottets. 

Day 4: Les Chapieux/Refuge des Mottets to Elisabetta or Caban Combale.

Day 5: Elisabetta or Caban Combale to Courmayeur

Read other trekker’s opinion of  Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme here on Trip Advisor.

Les Chapieux (1554m)

Les Chapieux is a tiny hamlet in the valley of Vallée des Glaciers. You’ll stay here in your second night if you’re hiking the traditional counter-clockwise route from the starting point of Les Houches. There are three accommodation options in Les Chapieux. Refuge de la Nova, Les Chambres des Soleil or the campsite.

Refuge de la Nova

More of a hotel than a refuge, this friendly tavern has excellent food and a bar! Exceedingly comfy beds in en-suite private rooms or dorms. Recommended.

I’d wrongly assumed that Refuge de la Nova was going to be a hole. Why? No idea!

After my internet research revealed (to my horror) that there were only two accommodation providers (+ camping) in the tiny hamlet of Les Chapieux (I thought it was a town) I’d decided to book Les Chambres du Soleil. Being described as a wonderful B&B with the luxury of private rooms with en-suite facilities and a masseur available, I knew my Mother would love it!

In turns out both were fully booked and after a stressful few weeks I thankfully managed to secure a private room at Refuge de La Nova on a cancellation. I needn’t have worried – Refuge de la Nova was marvellous & a lovely place to stay.

More of a hotel than a refuge, we were welcomed with friendly smiles and open arms after an extremely long day climbing two cols. We fell into our 3 bed room (without ensuite) letting our packs fall to the ground and headed for the bar! The food was delicious, the beds were comfy and the showers – perfectly hot!

Refuge de la Nova is large so has a variety of rooms available from dorms to private rooms. 

Read other trekker’s opinion of Refuge de la Nova here on Trip Advisor.

Expect: super friendly vibe, good food, excellent hot showers (best we had)

Les Chambres du Soleil

If you’re hankering for some luxury on your TMB adventure book one of only 5 private ensuite rooms. Masseur available. Rave reviews!

Les Chambres du Soleil is a B&B in Les Chapieux. Book extremely early to snag one of their 5 private rooms (3 doubles & 2 triples, all with en-suite). Half board prices are from €69 per person based on a triple room. 

Céline & Pierre have rave reviews from guests (see their trip advisor below) and also have a cottage available which sleeps up to 7 and costs from €540 in peak season. 

A masseur can be booked to come in and revive your exhausted body from 40 € for 30 mins/60 € 1 hr. Pre-book your massage at +33 (0) 675197421 or by emailing: fracher.j@gmail.com

Read other trekker’s opinion of Les Chambres du Soleil here on Trip Advisor.

Tel: 00 33 479 313 022 in season (mid-May – Oct)

Email: lessoleildeschampieux@gmail.com (out of season)

www.leschambresdusoleil-montblanc.com

Refuge des Mottets

This newly converted dairy farm is a fabulous stay on the trail. With 90 dorm beds & private rooms available, it’s well positioned to tackle the Col de la Seigne straight after breakfast! A great alternative to Les Chapieux, plus the bus from Les Chapieux stops here if you can’t face the 1 hour extra hike.

We didn’t stay at the Les Mottets refuge. In fact, we didn’t even walk past it. The above photo is the nearest we came to Les Mottets (we caught the shuttle bus from Chapieux to Village des Glaciers so approached from this direction & headed uphill at this point).

However, after all the fabulous reports about Les Mottets from all the trekkers we met on the trail and from TMB guides, I will definitely be staying there on my 2021 TMB adventure.

Les Mottets is a new refuge with 90 dorm beds. It’s perfect if you’ve left Chapieux too late to book and a much better option than heading down to Bourg for the night in a taxi. If you’re too tired to walk the extra hour on the trail to Les Mottets, there’s a shuttle bus from Les Chapieux which can drop you on the road above it, with a 5 minute walk down the hill. I’ve heard that in peak season, the overflow accommodation is in a converted barn where beds are tightly packed, so book early to get the best beds. 

The shuttle buses run from Les Chapieux to Les Mottets from around the 6th July through to the end of August only, running run every 30 minutes to an hour. It costs €3.50 per person, children 12 and under are free. The last bus to Les Mottets parking seems to be around 16.00, however the last bus of the day is at 17.30 to Village des Glacier which is about a 20 minute walk to Les Mottets refuge.

You can see the 2019 timetable here for both the shuttle bus to Les Mottets and Village to Glacier and to Bourg St Maurice up to 25 August 2019 and from 26-31 August 2019 below: 

http://www.hautetarentaise.fr/chapieux_du_06_juillet_au_25_aou_01.pdf

http://www.hautetarentaise.fr/chapieux_du_26_au_31_aout_ete_20_01.pdf

Read other trekker’s opinion of Les Mottets here on Trip Advisor.

Italian Refugios

After crossing the French-Italian border at 2510m on the lofty Col de Seigne on day 3 of the Tour du Mont Blanc itinerary, you have a choice of two two refuges to head for – Refugio Elisabetta or Caban Combal. 

Refugio Elisabetta is a cavernous, basic refuge with dreary food perched in an magnificent setting at the base of the Glacier d’Estellette and Glacier de la Lée Blanche overlooking the lower Lée Blanche valley.

If you’re after comfort & are happy to forfeit the unrivalled views, head a further easy 50 minutes down to the cute A framed Cabane Combal for private rooms with ensuite and a more Italian flair.

Rifugio Elisabetta

This high mountain hut perched at the base of Glacier d’Estellette and Glacier de la Lée Blanche will blow your mind with it’s incredible location. Large, busy refuge, often chaotic in high season.

However, this refuge’s location is everything you’d want it to be and more. Nestled at the base of two glaciers Glacier d’Estellette and Glacier de la Lée Blanche, it’s breathtaking scenery blows your mind.

Another rough and ready refuge, similar to Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme, this Refugio Elisabetta is manned by young (and fairly unorganised) staff. Refugio Elisabetta can house up to 80 trekkers in peak season but beware it’s chaos. We know because we stayed here!

Choose from cheaper dark and cavernous dorms or small private rooms with excellent views. Note: Attic dorms harbour a single sleeping platform under the eaves whilst downstairs dorms boast three tiered sleeping platforms!

Hot water shower tokens available for €2 don’t deliver. Save your coins and shower at the next stop. Free wi-fi is impossible to get onto.

The unorganization of dinner and the basic food let this refuge down. If I was trekking the TMB again I would continue on and book into the excellent facilities at Caban Combal (below)

Read other trekker’s opinion of Refugio Elisabetta here on Trip Advisor.

Tel: 00 39 (0) 1 65 84 40 80

Email: info@rifugioelisabetta.com

Rifugio Elisabetta nestled at the base of Glacier d’Estellette and Glacier de la Lée Blanche in Val Ferret, Italy

Cabane du Combal

This gorgeous A frame refuge is located in a picture postcard location 50 minutes along the trail from Elisabetta. More like a hotel than a refuge, their small 4 bed ensuite dorms, fantastic food & welcoming staff make this one of the best places to stay on the tour

You’re in Italy now having crossed the border at 2510m on the lofty Col de Seigne. For your third night’s stay on our itinerary we would recommend the delightful Lac Combal, a further 50 minute easy hike from Refuge Elisabetta (where we stayed). This A frame friendly refuge is run by Italians (hooray!) and has 23 dorm places. Even though we had hiked 7 hours covering the 15km from Chapieux to Refugio Elisabetta, we would gladly have hiked on the easy Roman road and stayed in Cabane du Combal, 3 and a half kilometres further down the road. We stopped here for a reviving cappuccino and bought excellent ham and cheese sandwiches to stash in our packs for lunch later in the day.

Cabane Combal is run by Italians – hooray! (compared to Elisabetta which is manned by youngsters mainly Spanish) and every room is en-suite. Trust me, this is going to make a huge difference after you’ve been hiking three long long days! Each room is small housing up to 4 beds in each which makes it totally doable for a family to have a private room. There’s even a double downstairs. Cabane Combal books up quick so make sure you book early to secure this one.

Read other trekker’s opinion of Cabane du Combal here on Trip Advisor.

Tel: 00 39 (0) 16 51 75 64 21

Email: cabaneducombal@gmail.com

Rifugio Bertone

The first refuge on the trail out of Courmayeur, Rifugio Bertone often gets overlooked for overnight stays. It’s a shame – the food is excellent, the staff wonderful and some of their private rooms are stand alone converted outbuildings with stunning view.

Refuge Bertone is the first refuge on the trail out of Courmayeur heading to Switzerland (TMB counter clockwise). It’s met after a gruelling ascent of nearly 1000m from Courmayeur so very much a welcome sight when it finally comes into view. The staff here are wonderfully friendly and the food is excellent, although with  lunch only starting at 12.30pm, so if you’ve made an early start from Courmayeur, you’ll be far too early. Enjoy a rest stop here though and enjoy the surroundings. 

Refuge Bertone would be a fabulous overnight stay, however it’s too early on the trail for many trekkers. Consider a stay here if you’re all about the high mountain huts and not fussed about the towns on the trail or if you’re doing the second half of the TMB from Courmayeur to Chamonix and want to head out on the trail the day you hit Courmayeur. If you decide to stay at Refuge Bertone, a good next night accommodation would be Refuge Elena. Refuge Bertone have some lovely little converted outbuildings so as to stay in one of these as a first choice.

We stayed the night in Courmayeur but with in hindsight would love to have weaved this wonderful refuge into our TMB itinerary. 

Tel: 00 39 (0) 347 032 5785

Email: info@refugiobertone.com

Rifugio Bonatti

Outstanding high altitude refuge offering warm welcoming hospitality with excellent organisation. The food is exceptional & the pique- nique fabulous. This is voted our no 1 refuge on the tour.

Hands down my favourite refuge on the Tour du Mont Blanc, Refugio Bonatti is one of the proper high mountain huts on the trail and gives you that real feeling of being away from it all and in a very special place.

Perched at 2,025m overlooking Val Ferret, it has spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif. Don’t miss staying at the Bonatti hut, named after the famous Italian climber, Walter Bonatti.

This TMB refuge is large, rather like Refuge Elisabetta but is run to perfection. Forget the chaos of Elisabetta, the Bonatti hut is a private family run business and everything about it is well thought out and thorough. The drying room is an added bonus that no other refuge on the TMB as far as I’m aware provides.

The refuge has been entirely renovated so this Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation is impressive. There are 85 dormitory places over 4 or 5 dorms (costing €55 half board per person, children do not get discount) and also a whole floor of private rooms also.  We stayed in a 14 bed dormitory that had single rows of beds with drawers, hooks and shelves. We did not see any triple bunk bed scenarios here.

The communal bathrooms are very clean and spacious. They even have foot baths! Showers are run on a token (jeton) basis. Pick one up from the bar. Hot water is not always guaranteed – it depends how many hikers have been in before you. Ask the bar staff when the best time to shower is to get an insider tip.

Dinner was delicious starting with a salad, soup, a main course, cheese and dessert! We would highly recommend the pique-nique packed lunch (order the night before) for €12. It was the best we had on the trail (a cheese & ham sandwich, a delicious patonne (traditional Italian cake), nectarine and large slab of beautiful ‘Bonatti’ dark chocolate).

As you can see, I could wax lyrical about the Bonatti refuge, do yourself a favour and put this one on your Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation list.

Tel: 00 39 (0) 335 684 8578

Email: rifugiobonatti@gmail.com

Refugio Bonatti
Rifugio Bonatti commands spectacular views across Val Ferret and opposite to the incredible Grand Jorasses

Chalet Val Ferret

At the far end of Val Ferret and at the base of the Grand Col Ferret, this B&B is valley based and very accessible with a road leading right to it. Serves good food.

This chalet accommodation is nestled right at the end of the Val Veni and at the foot of the Grand Col Ferret. The TMB trail passes right past it so it’s a good option for an overnight stay if the Bonatti hut is full or if you’ve interspersed your refuges and walking schedule out longer or shorter. 

We stayed here for a refreshment before commencing the Grand Col Ferret and the staff were very friendly and the refreshments excellent. However, I have no information on whether the accommodation etc is excellent. If you’ve stayed here on your TMB experience, please let us know in the comments.

Refuge Elena

A high mountain refuge on the lower section of the Grand Col Ferret. With fabulous views of the Glacier de Pré de Bar, this recently renovated large refuge with it’s easy access is always busy.

Hiking the lower slopes of the Grand Col Ferret with Refuge Elena and Glacier de Pré de Bar in the background

Refuge Elena is an easy accessible high mountain refuge with spectacular glacier views, which makes it chocker with day tourists as well as TMB trekkers.  A car park at the end of the Val Veni makes this an easy day hike so expect the refuge, with it’s impressive views of the Glacier de Pré de Bar to be rammed. The trail from the valley floor  takes around an hour to climb, and it’s a good place to stop for refreshment before tackling the remaining steeper section of the Grand Col Ferret over into Switzerland.

Refuge Elena is completely new, having been destroyed by an avalanche in the 1950s, so the standard of accommodation is high. We didn’t stay overnight here, so we can’t vouch on the food, but the coffee was very good!

My advice would be if you’re trying to plan your route and are deciding on Elena or Bonatti, I would choose Bonatti every time.

Swiss Refuges

Expect the Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation prices to rocket when you cross into Switzerland. If you need to be budget conscious, stride on through Switzerland as quickly as your legs will take you! 

There are less refuges on the trail and more of the accommodation is in hotels in villages such as Ferret, La Fouly, Champex-Lac and Trient. Expect to pay between 85-110CHF per person for half board in hotels en-route or slightly less (65-75CHF) in one of the few refuges along the way.

Overall I have to say, I was disappointed in the Swiss TMB accommodation. As ever, we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

Alpage de la Peule (2,071m)

Authentic dairy farm stay | good views | dorm accommodation | 4am milking cows may disturb 

Swiss refuges tmb

This summer dairy farm is the first refuge after crossing into Switzerland and descending the Grand Col Ferret (if you’re trekking counter clockwise). It’s the only refuge on the Swiss side before reaching the village of Ferret or the town of La Fouly. If you’re seeking a TMB experience that’s close to nature and are not fussed about villages and towns, then this is your place. It’s one of only two Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation on the Swiss TMB side that is a ‘refuge’ rather than a hotel and is a bit cheaper than staying in Ferret, La Fouly or Champex-Lac.

This TMB accommodation is fairly basic – 30 beds triple stacked in one large dormitory. Currently the yurts serve as boot rooms. The Alpage is a working dairy farm so whilst this is rather charming, remember this is an authentic dairy farm, so expect to be woken up at 4am whilst the cows are being milked. 

Half board is 69CHF a night for an adult and 49CHF for children.

If you book the Alpage de la Peule, it would be work well distance wise to book the only other refuge on the Swiss TMB trail, the Relais d’Arpette, which is 45 mins further from Champex. The Relais d’Arpette is on the alternative TMB trail if you’re heading up to the highest point on the TMB (2,665m) which can only be done in good weather, however the Relais d’Arpette is only a short distance on the alternative route, so it’s no bother to walk back to the traditional route if required.

Tel. (During the off season): 0041 (0)79 290 34 93

Tel. (During the summer season): 0041 (0)27 783 10 41 

Email: nicolas.lapeule@gmail.com

Champex-Lac

Champex-Lac is a pretty lakeside town surrounded by forest. It is our favourite spot on the Swiss section of the Tour du Mont Blanc. Having a distinctly Canadian vibe, the town is busy all year with hikers on the TMB circuit during the summer months and a bustling ski resort in the winter.

There are plenty of places to stay in Champex-Lac. Of course, this is Switzerland so everything is expensive! Campers should head to Camping La Rocaille at the far end of the town, perfectly placed for hitting the trail the next day. Budget hotels such as Edelweiss, or

Hotel Belvedere – Champex-Lac

Fabulous food |  incredibly comfy beds |  charming rooms with en-suites  |  excellent reduction for kids under 12

swiss refuges on the tour du mont blanc

Everything about Hotel Belvedere is charming. Situated slap bang on the Tour du Mont Blanc trail and near to the lake, Irene, the owner goes above and beyond to make your stay the best. We were served a delicious 3 course dinner, which incredibly was steak! The bedrooms are charming with aged wood, thick velvet curtains, beds out of this world comfortable and hot, powerful showers in the en-suite. Breakfast was incredible with cured hams, cheeses, croissants and Irene’s homemade jam!

The only thing that let Hotel Belvedere down sadly was Irene’s other half, who was rude and impolite on more than one occasion and unfortunately we arrived on her day off. Irene’s lively personality outshone his and we were made to feel very welcome.

We paid 110CHF per adult and 30CHF per child sharing a 3 ensuite bed room (with a mattress on the floor for our 4th)

Tel: 00 41 (0) 27 783 1114

www.le-belvedere.ch

Col de la Forclaz

Col de la Forclaz is rather un-inspirational. The main road from the French/Swiss border winds up and over the col down into the equally un-inspiring town of Martingny, nestled in the Rhone valley. The Col’s accommodation is simply one hotel – Hotel du Col de la Forclaz and a campsite. The options for accommodation are here, or a 30 minute walk down to Le Peuty or 40 minutes to Trient.

Le Peuty is a hamlet slap bang on the TMB trail at the foot of the Col de Balme. Again it has limited accommodation options, one refuge or camping. Trient, ten minutes off the trail has two large hotels. See below.

Le Peuty

Le Peuty is a hamlet slap bang on the TMB trail at the foot of the Col de Balme.

Refuge du Peuty

Basic dorm accommodation |  cheaper than hotels | good location on TMB trail | camping available

tmb stage 8/9 accommodation

We passed this tiny refuge at the base of the uphill trail from Le Peuty in Switzerland back over the Col de la Balme into France. It’s perfectly positioned on the trail and a cheaper option than either the hotels on the Col de la Forclaz or Trient. I’ve seen some good reviews online. 

Refuge du Peuty has  22 dorm places in one large basic dorm.  They allow camping on the green opposite for around 20CHF per person. Meals are taken in their resident yurt! 

I’d love to hear first hand from anyone that has stayed here. 

Half board (breakfast & dinner 3 course) 65CHF/ 60€.            Night only: 35CHF/ 30€
Breakfast & night: 45CHF/ 40€                                                    Lunch pack 10CHF/ 9€


They accept €, CHF and credit card payment.

Tel: 00 41 (0) 27 722 09 38

https://www.refugelepeuty.ch

Trient

Trient is a small village in Switzerland near the French border with a wonderfully pink church! Trient is a good option to stay the night over the Col du la Forclaz which has limited accommodation options (Hotel du Col de la Forclaz or camping).

However, Trient is at least an extra thirty minute push from the Col du la Forclaz after a long day on the trail. At least it’s all downhill.

The TMB route doesn’t officially go through Trient, it’s ten minutes off the trail so you’ll need to loop back to Le Peuty to pick up the trail again in the morning.

La Grande Ourse

Large uninspiring hotel  |    Decent food   |      Clean rooms

Trient accommodation

We stayed here at Hotel Grande Ourse for our final leg back into Chamonix. It’s expensive at 85CHF for a bed in a 4 bed room without ensuite (we paid 340CHF for the room minus 15% off for kids under 12!). That’s an expensive room! That was half board though so our dinner (average) and breakfast (basic) was included. 

The shared bathroom was similar to what you’d find in a campsite. There was only one toilet one each floor for each sex. The waitresses were Spanish and spoke no French or English!

However, the rooms were extremely clean, and we had a good night’s sleep! Plus the communication was excellent during emails to book.

Tel: 00 41 (0) 27 722 17 54

https://www.la-grande-ourse.ch

Auberge Mont Blanc

Average Food   |    Lack of toilets

Trient refuges TMB

We didn’t stay in Auberge Mont Blanc but it was slap bang next to Le Grand Ourse hotel we stayed in. I wondered if it might have been a better option for us,  so researched it on our return. Reviews online deem it expensive, with average food & only one toilet for an entire floor of around 40 guests. To be honest, it sounds a lot like Le Grand Ourse. Let us know if you’ve stayed here!

Tel: 00 41 (0) 27 767 15 05

info@aubergemontblanc.com

French refuges (again)

Refuge du Col de Balme

Good food  |    Small basic accommodation   |    Stunning location

French refuges

Refuge du Col de Balme is the first refuge as you cross back into France on the TMB counter clockwise. After an hour or so of an uphill slog from the Swiss village of Trient or Le Peuty, it’s a welcome sight as you round the corner and see it’s glorious red shutters high above you in the distance on the Col de Balme, marking the border between Switzerland and France. 

It’s a small refuge with dormitory accommodation for only 26 people. We didn’t stay here and in fact we’d heard in passing that the lady runs it isn’t the friendliest, but we stopped here for lunch on our last day back in Chamonix and all the staff were friendly and the food delicious! Try the tartiflette (a local dish of potatoes, bacon and reblochon cheese) – a bargain at only €10.

If you’ve stayed in the Refuge du Col de Balme on your TMB adventure, please leave us some feedback in the comments below.

Tel: 00 33 (0) 4 50 54 02 33

Tel: +33 (0)6 07 06 16 30 (mobile)

henri.lapeyrere@gmail.com

Tré-le-Champ

Tré-le-Champ is a charming hamlet perched up high before the Col du Montets at the end of the Chamonix valley. You’ll pass Tré-le-Champs wonderful totem pole statues, reminiscent of the Easter Island heads, on your way in from Le Tour.

The hamlet only has one TMB accommodation, the excellent La Boerne, see below.

Tré-le-Champ can be accessed via the footpath from Le Tour, directly from the Col du Montets road (parking on the large Col du Mottets parking area only and walk down to the village – 3 minutes), or a 10-15 minute hike up the track from Montroc train station.

Start your TMB in Trè-le-Champ

Trés-le-Champ is actually a great place to start your Tour du Mont Blanc adventure, particularly if you have only a week to trek. Starting here bags you immediately two of the most scenic days on the tour (stage 10 and stage 11). To start your tour in Tré-le-Champ catch the train from Chamonix to Montroc (on the Chamonix – Vallorcine line. Montroc is the stop after Argentière). When you get off, walk to the end of the platform and turn right onto the other side of the track. Carry on until you see a fence and a car park. On the right of the fence you’ll see a track into the forest. This will take you straight up to Trè-le-Champ – it’s a 15-20 minute hike up. You’ll be greeted at the top by the totem poles – take the left trail signposted La Boerne to reach the refuge in under a minute.

La Boerne

Charming  |   One of Best Refuges on TMB  |   Good food

The next refuge trekking the TMB counter clockwise (a further 2 hrs or quicker if taking the shortcut of the Autanne chairlift and/or Charmillon gondola) is Refuge de la Boerne which comes highly recommended. 

We didn’t stay there but we’ve passed by this gorgeous little refuge many times, as we live close by. I’ve heard nothing but good things and when I tried to make a reservation, they were fully booked, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Refuge de la Boerne has dorms of 2/3/6/9 beds.

Tel: 00 33 (0) 4 50 54 05 14

www.la-boerne.fr

Lac Blanc refuge

Jaw dropping views  |    dorms only   |   no children under 8 

TMB refuges lac Blanc

Refuge Lac Blanc (2352m)

Jaw dropping location next to Lac Blanc with incredible views of Mont Blanc. 40 dorm beds.

We are super happy to report the legendary Lac Blanc refuge at La Flégère in Chamonix has now re-opened with new owners after being closed for several years.

This is fabulous news as this is one of the best Tour du Mont Blanc refuges boasting incredible views. It’s not possible to book Refuge Lac Blanc via the official TMB website so you need to book direct. The refuge doesn’t have internet so you need to send a text or call Marion on 00 33 (0) 7.67.56.74.14 or send an email to contact@refuge-lac-blanc.fr.

Half board tariff: adults €55/children (ages 8 – 12) €45. No children under 8 are allowed.

Note: you’ll need €5 to use the shower

We haven’t been up to the Lac Blanc refuge since it’s re-opened but are planning a visit in September so we’ll keep you posted. If any of you have visited this summer, please do leave some feedback in our comments below. 

Tel: 00 33 (0) 7 67 56 74 14 contact@refuge-lac-blanc.fr

Refuge Bellachat

At an altitude of 2152m this dinky refuge boasts stunning views of Mont Blanc.
With only 24 dorm beds & no shower it’s not for everyone.

Refuge Bellachat is a couple of hours along the trail from the top of Brèvent. It has outstanding views of Mont Blanc. The refuge itself is dinky with only 24 beds. Covid restrictions have reduced capacity to only 10 so book early to avoid disappointment Who knows whether Covid restrictions will still be in place from late June 2021?

Being around 6 hours hike time from La Flégère, Refuge Bellachat is often overlooked by hiker’s keen to get to the finish point with most hiker’s merely stopping in to take a well deserved refreshment from their incredible terrace boasting front row Mont Blanc views.

However, if you’ve stayed at Refuge Lac Blanc the night before, it’s a good 7 hours to Refuge Bellachat, so a perfect place to bed down in an amazing location if you’re seeking solitude and solace before completing your TMB loop & hitting the bright lights of Chamonix town once again.

We include Refuge Bellachat in our solitude adventurer’s TMB itinerary which sees you bedding down at incredible high altitude huts every night on the Tour du Mont Blanc. €55 per person demi pension

tel: 00 33 (0) 4 50 53 46 99) www.refuge-bellachat.com

Refuge Bellachat (2152m)

Stunning views / basic dorm / no shower

chamonix refuges

Refuge Bellachat is a couple of hours along the trail from the top of Brèvent. It has outstanding views of Mont Blanc. The refuge itself is dinky with only 24 beds. Covid restrictions have reduced capacity to only 10 so book early to avoid disappointment Who knows whether Covid restrictions will still be in place from late June 2021?

Being around 6 hours hike time from La Flégère, Refuge Bellachat is often overlooked by hiker’s keen to get to the finish point with most hiker’s merely stopping in to take a well deserved refreshment from their incredible terrace boasting front row Mont Blanc views.

However, if you’ve stayed at Refuge Lac Blanc the night before, it’s a good 7 hours to Refuge Bellachat, so a perfect place to bed down in an amazing location if you’re seeking solitude and solace before completing your TMB loop & hitting the bright lights of Chamonix town once again.

We include Refuge Bellachat in our solitude adventurer’s TMB itinerary which sees you bedding down at incredible high altitude huts every night on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

tel: 00 33 (0) 4 50 53 46 99) www.refuge-bellachat.com.

TMB Accommodation – Private Rooms, Dorms Only or both?

The below guide will help you decide which accommodation to book, particularly if you are looking to only book private rooms during your Tour du Mont Blanc trek. The list is in order of TMB accommodation clockwise

Refuge Lac Blanc – no private rooms, dorms only
Refuge La Boerne – dorms of 2/3/6/9
Trient – Hotel de l’Ourse – has private rooms
Champex Lac – Hotel de la Belvedere – has private rooms
Fouley – Maja Joie/Hotel Edelweiss/Auberge des Glaciers – both have private rooms
Gite de la Lechere – dorms of 3,8,10,14 – no private rooms
Alpage de la Peule – dorm only
Refugio Elena – private rooms and dorms
Chalet Val Ferret dorms only
Refugio Bonatti – private rooms and dorms
Refugio Bertone – private rooms and dorms
Courmayeur – many hotels
Refugio Maison Vielle – dorms only
Caban du Combal – private rooms
Refugio Elisabetta – private rooms and dorms
Refuge des Mottets – private rooms and dorms
Les Chapieux – Auberge de la Nova, Chambres du Soleil – private rooms and dorms
Refuge de la Croix de Bonhomme – private rooms and dorms
Refuge de la Balme – private rooms and dorms
Refuge de Nant Borrant – no private rooms but do have one small dorm of 4

Related TMB content

Read day 1 (stage 10) Tré-le-Champ to La Flégère

Read day 2 (stage 11)  La Flégère to Les Houches

Read day 3 (stage 1) Les Houches to Les Contamines (& onto Nant Borrant refuge)

Read day 4 (stage 2) Nant Borrant Refuge to Les Chapieux

Read day 5 (stage 3) Les Chapieux to Refugio Elisabetta

Read day 6 (stage 4)  Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur

Read day 7 (stage 5) Courmayeur – Refugio Bonatti

Read day 8 (stage 6)  Refugio Bonatti – Ferret or La Fouly

Tour du Mont Blanc Tips

Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List

Ultimate guide to your self guided Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges – the good, the bad & the ugly

Tour du Mont Blanc Difficulty? Transport options on the TMB

6 day Half Circuit Tour du Mont Blanc Itinerary

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