Les Houches to Les Contamines via Refuge de Miage
Macs Adventure Geverifieerde partner Keuze ontdekkingsreizigers
Suspension Bridge over Torrent de BionnassayFoto: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
Your epic Tour du Mont Blanc adventure is finally underway! This is the high route option which goes to Les Contamines via Chalets de Miage, rewarding the adventurous hiker with dramatic views and a splendid introduction to Mont Blanc.
The alpine village of Les Houches is cradled in a valley at the foot of what appears to be an endless and impenetrable wall of rock and ice. This is the mighty Mont Blanc massif with some 400 peaks, 40 glaciers and some of Europe’s most dramatic mountain scenery – and you’re about to walk a lap of it all, returning to Les Houches!
Kickstart your adventure from Les Houches with the aptly-named Bellevue (beautiful view) gondola ride into the mountains. Only the purist of hikers will opt to climb this comparatively dull section on gravel roads through woodland, which would transform the first day into a gruelling 18km stretch with nearly 1,500 metres of climbing and descent.
From the top of the gondola, the path plunges into valleys and climbs up to various cols (a low-point between two mountains), which provide unique and spectacular views. A particularly exhilarating experience (and great photo opportunity!) is crossing the rushing glacial meltwater of the Torrent de Bionnassay on a narrow suspension bridge.
This is the high route option. During poor weather, we advise to follow the traditional TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc) route via Bionnassay.
******Check with your accommodation if the suspension bridge is open before setting off on today's walk***
Tip van de auteur
Stop for lunch or refreshing drinks in the Chalets de Miage. By now you have the larger climb up to Col de Tricot behind you, and only a short, steep climb over the shoulder of Mont Truc before you drop down to Les Contamines.
RustplaatsenRefuge de Miage
Auberge du Truc
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 2,000 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.
You must cross over the Mont Blanc tramway; be sure to double-check both directions before crossing.
Tips en hints
Points of Interest
Torrent de Bionnassay
Thousands of litres of water rush metres below your feet as you cross the narrow, wobbly suspension bridge that spans the Torrent de Bionnassay. This is an exhilarating section of your Mont Blanc adventure and provides excellent photo opportunities.
Chalets de Miage
As you descend the countless switchbacks of the Col de Tricot, the Chalets de Miage appear like an oasis, scattered across the valley floor promising a warm welcome, hot food, and cold beer for the weary walker. This refreshment stop usually provides a vibrant atmosphere with the opportunity to mingle with other walkers who have just set out (or maybe preparing to finish if walking clockwise!).
Optional Bellevue Telepherique from Les Houches to Bellevue.
This cable car reduces the climb out of Les Houches by 800m and is to be recommended.
The lift operates daily between approx. the 10th of June and the 5th of September. Check the link below for specific timetables. http://www.chamonix.com/telepherique-de-bellevue,231,fr.html
For bad weather transport options, please see our guide (in the "Docs" section of your Macs app, and in "My Documents" in your Macs account online)
Food and Drink
Between Les Houches and Les Contamines there are few opportunities to buy food or drink, so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.
You will pass the Chalets de Miage after 6.3km, and the Chalets du Truc after 7.6km. Both provide an opportunity to enjoy food or drink in a spectacular setting.
When you emerge from the Bellvue Gondola (more information here: https://www.chamonix.com/telepherique-de-bellevue,29-179584,en.html), take a moment to appreciate the view into the Chamonix Valley behind you, before walking past the café on your left. Follow the path signposted to Col de Tricot and Chalets de Miage which will pass under a ski-lift and over the Mont Blanc tramway. At 300 metres, after a section of woodland, you will emerge onto a gravel road which is where you must choose between turning left for the high route via Chalets de Miage, or the right for the low route via Bionnassay.
After turning left the high route walks along the flank of Mont Lachat with a steep slope dropping away on your right providing excellent views through the Bionnassay Valley. Continue following signs for Chalets de Miage, ignoring side paths to Bionnassay and Le Nid d’Aigle at 1.3 and 1.5km, after the signs the path will begin heading steeply downhill towards a roaring river of meltwater, the Torrent de Bionnassay. At 2.1 kilometres the path crosses this river via an exhilarating suspension bridge with thousands of litres of water tumbling mere metres below your feet.
After the suspension bridge, the path climbs through woodland, bursting above the tree-line to a rewarding view to the Glacier de Bionnassay on your left. The path winds through a colourful riot of wildflowers, eventually reaching Col de Tricot (2,120 m). A steep set of switchbacks plummet to the valley, bringing you to the Chalets de Miage at 6.3km, where you can enjoy a tasty lunch or refreshing drinks.
After passing between the Chalets de Miage the gravel road crosses three stone bridges over streams, and then you must veer left heading steeply uphill on a footpath through woodland, following the sign to Les Contamines-Montjoie. Emerge onto a flat plateau to pass the Chalets du Truc at 7.6km, from where a combination of gravel roads and footpaths will guide you downhill through woodland and into the wide Les Contamines-Montjoie Valley.
The path finishes at the main road beside the church and clocktower. Les Contamines is a long, thin village running through the valley; to get to your hotel which may be slightly to the north or south, there is a pleasant footpath running beside the river which is the best way to get there!
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.
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