This September I was walking in the Alps on the Tour de Mont Blanc for the third year running with my friend Julia. This mountain trail makes a circuit around the Mont Blanc Massive, taking you through France, Switzerland and Italy and would normally take 12-14 days to complete the whole circular route. However, we decided that it would be too arduous and difficult to fit in so much time off work, if we did the TMB in one go, so we’re walking the trail in stages and hopefully will be back to complete the final stage of our Tour de Mont Blanc next year.
Our first year took us from Les Houches above the Chamonix valley to Lac Blanc and finished at Flegere. The second year we started at Flegere and walked into Switzeland, ending at Champex Lac and this year we started where we left off at Champex Lac to walk as far as Courmayeur in Italy.
Although I was away from any wifi, I was able to capture the journey in photos on my iPhone which I posted through Instagram onto my Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as e-mailing to my family, to give a live stream of the journey, using the tag #tmbwalk. The pictures below are all my #tmbwalk photos and if you hover over each one you can see the commentary – bear in mind that the photos at the top are from the end of the journey. At the bottom of the photos, I’ve given some information in case you’d like to do the same – it’s certainly an activity I plan to use again on future trips. Follow my travels on Instagram
[instapress tag=”tmbwalk” piccount=”44″ size=”185″ effect=”fancybox” title=”1″ paging=”1″]
More Tales from the Tour de Mont Blanc
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Information about creating the photos above
- I have been using Instagram for my last few trips to take photos on my iPhone – there is an app for both iPhone and Android.
- The Instagram app enables you to take photos on your smartphone, resize them in a square format, add filters with different effects and then post to your Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr feeds, your Flickr account and e-mail them to anyone you wish as well as being visible on Instagram for your Instagram followers to see in their feed.
- Although I used #tags on previous trips such as #loveguernsey #Houston #Texas with my Instagram photos, for this trip I decided to create a unique tag of #tmbwalk that no-one else was using which proved to be a good plan.
- By creating a unique tag I could use the WordPress Plugin Instapress to create the effect above. Instapress enables you to create a photo montage like the one above or to add your Instagram photos in a sidebar widget to your blog. I’m still working out how to customise the widget as so far I haven’t found out how to include only photos with a #tag from my own stream – if others are using the same #tag it picks up their photos too – hence the importance of using a unique #tag
- An alternative to Instapress is Snapwidget which can be used to generate code that you paste onto your blog that will create a similar photo montage to the one above.
Information for walking the Tour de Mont Blanc from Champex Lac to Courmayeur
- We flew to Geneva and took the train/bus to Champex Lac. There is a station in Geneva Airport and you can buy tickets at either the machines or at the ticket booth. The combined ticket took us from Geneva Airport/Martigny, Martigny/Orsieres (Changing briefly at Sembrancher) Orsieres to Champex Lac by bus. The trains ran from Geneva about every 30 minutes and the whole journey took around 3 hours. The cost one way was about 59 CHF (€48 £39 $63) If Courmayeur is your starting point you could also look at flights to and from Turin which has good public transport connections to get to Courmayeur.
- We stayed at at Champex Lac at Gite Bon Abri; Ferret at Hotel Col de Fenetre; Rifugio Elena; Rifugio Bonatti, at Courmayeur at Hotel Bouton d’Or. We reserved rooms by e-mail in advance for all of these but Rifugio Elena who did not answer our e-mails (we later found that their office is in the valley rather than at the Refuge) so we phoned to make a reservation when we arrived. Check for the best hotel prices in Switzerland and book here.
- At the end of our walk we caught the SAT bus from Courmayeur to Chamonix through the Mont Blanc tunnel. The bus runs around 3-4 times a day and the journey takes around 45 minutes and costs €13 one way, €20 return. The bus leaves Courmayeur in front of the Tourism Office where you can buy tickets at the bus office and drops off at Chamonix station where there is also a booth to buy tickets.
- Finally we took the efficient and reliable minibus transfer with ChamExpress from Chamonix to Geneva Airport for our flight home – the cost is €29 one way + tax
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