Four people standing under an arch for the TMB in Les Houches.
We began our hike from our hotel, Chalet Hotel du Bois, which is in Les Houches, France, the traditional starting point for the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). The weather forecast was for rain much of the day – ugh. 

The first part of the route wound through town. There’s a decorative archway proclaiming the TMB in one spot, and lots of hikers – including us – posed underneath it for photos. We walked more than a mile (2 km) through town before the route left the roads and went up into the woods. We actually missed our turn, as the trail sign was at a lower level than the previous TMB signs, so it didn’t catch our eyes. Oh, well.

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There were a fair number of hikers out on the trail, even though the busiest season isn’t until July-August. I can’t imagine hiking it with many more people. I don’t like big crowds.

Anyway, the path kept switching from dirt to asphalt, and it was somewhat urban. Certainly not singletrack in the middle of nowhere. Mountains in the background with prairie in the foreground.After reasonably gentle grades, we suddenly began a long, steep ascent. It was pretty tough going for a few hours. We were sweating like you wouldn’t believe, despite the cool temps. 

Leaving Les Houches Far Behind

When it was about time for a snack break, we fortuitously came upon a mountainside restaurant. Perfect! We had a beer, even though it was only about 10 a.m., and took lots of photos of the mountains, as the sun began to peek out – yes!

From that remote mountainside stop, the trail returned to a mix of traditional trail and asphalt paths/streets winding through some very cute towns with Swiss-style architecture. Near the end of the day it began to drizzle, but it wasn’t bad at all. There were rumbles of thunder up in the mountains, but it never stormed.

Rock cairns by a river near Les Houches.
We ended the day in Les Contamines, staying at Le Christiania. We have a lovely room, and our bags were waiting for us, courtesy of CVT (Chamonix Valley Transfers). The four of us went into town and bought some food at the grocery for lunch and snacks tomorrow, then came back for dinner at the hotel (included in our package). It was some cheesy potato dish, a charcuterie platter and an ice cream dessert with tons of whipped cream. During dinner, we chatted with two women hiking together. One is from the U.K., the other from New Zealand. There are people from all over the world on this trail.

Life is good!


Tour du Mont Blanc Miles Today: 11.2 (18 km)
TMB Miles Overall: 11.2 (18 km)
TMB Miles to Go: =98.8 (159 km)

Most useful hiking gear today: Definitely my Black Diamond Carbon Z trekking poles and my new (!) Keen Nxis hiking shoes. Comfy and supportive.

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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