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Day 3 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Flégère to Lac Blanc

Following our night at Refuge la Flégère, the morning of day 3 of our mini Tour de Mont Blanc found us debating two alternate plans. We could either descend to Chamonix and then take the lift back up the other side of the mountain to the Aguille du Midi or continue a little further on the Tour de Mont Blanc path to see Lac Blanc, regarded as one of the must see sights for walkers in the area. We decided to keep the altitude we’d sweated so hard to gain and push on for Lac Blanc. (Read about Day 1 and Day 2 of our walk)

Lac Blanc above Chamonix

Lac Blanc above Chamonix

The path took us 1.5 hr higher up the mountain, around narrow rocky tracks and meeting a junction where the path from L’Index chair lift came in. Only a little over the crest and we arrived at Lac Blanc. It was well worth the walk – a milky blue-green glacial lake with not much sign of the glacier but with more amazing views and reflections of the mountain peaks. In fact there is a smaller lake behind the first one and we enjoyed clambering up the rocky outcrop to take in the spectacular views of the lake with a backdrop of the mountains. After taking plenty of photos, posing like mountaineers, we sat and relaxed on the sunny terrace of Refuge du Lac Blanc overlooking Lac Blanc.

Lac Blanc above Chamonix

Lac Blanc above Chamonix

We enjoyed a cold beer and tarte au mytilles or blueberry tart, having seen some tiny wild mytilles on the path as we’d come up. Looking down from the terrace on the other side, we could see a number of smaller lakes on the slopes below and had we been continuing on the TMB route, we would walked past them, rather than going back on the same path. Sadly, as this was our last day of walking, we needed to make our way down to the valley and took an alternative route back towards Flégère, where we had left much of our gear to make the climb less arduous. This time we took the different path that traversed across to the top of L’Index chairlift, thinking that it would be easier than the one we had come back up on, but in fact it took almost the same length of time and took us a barren, rocky grey landscape, that was harder to walk on.

Tarte aux Myrtilles at Refuge du Lac Blanc

Tarte aux Myrtilles at Refuge du Lac Blanc

Refuge du Lac Blanc above Chamonix

Refuge du Lac Blanc above Chamonix

As we arrived at the top of L’Index chair lift, we donned our warmest fleeces for the lift down, feeling rather exposed as we dangled in mid air, over the heads of the mountain bikers who were descending the piste paths below. We arrived at Refuge Flegere at 2pm and stayed only long enough to repack our rucksacks before continuing our walk right down to the valley. The trail was along a wide shale track, that would probably become a ski-piste in the winter season, and although physically undemanding it was extremely unpleasant to walk on as we kept sliding and losing our footing on the dusty surface. Half way down we met a track through the forest signposted for Chalet Floria and turned onto a more pleasant, shady trail with the odd rushing stream to hop over.

Chalet Floria above Chamonix

Chalet Floria above Chamonix

Chalet Floria  above Chamonix

Chalet Floria above Chamonix

We finally reached the aptly named Chalet Floria, where a small chalet had been made into an out-door café terrace and a riot of colourful geraniums filled every possible space, with quirky figures and colourful metal tables and chairs. It was obviously a favourite refreshment point for those making the short walk up from Chamonix through the forest, where they could take a drink overlooking the valley and then stroll back down again.We couldn’t pass up the opportunity of another café break here, and then took the path down to Chamonix, feeling that we were rejoining civilisation after our days walking on the wild mountain side.

Heather and Julia at the end of our walk in Les Houches

Heather and Julia at the end of our walk in Les Houches

In the town we found our bus stop to take us back to Les Houches, where a very welcome deep, hot bath awaited us at Hotel Slalom, where we posed for our final ‘after the walk’ shot to match the ‘before’ shot outside the tourist office three days before. We’d been lucky enough to have clear blue skies and sunshine all the way (although the next morning as we left the rain had set in) and had come back with one broken walking pole but nothing worse.

We decided that we could have walked for longer but wouldn’t want to walk the whole TMB in one go unless we could break it up with a comfortable hotel bed and a rest day every so often. Next year, perhaps we’ll be back to walk a bit more of the Tour de Mont Blanc, until we’ve finally completed the whole circuit, although being walkers for pleasure rather than endurance, it might take us several more years to complete!

In the Chamonix valley we stayed at the modern, stylish, budget boutique Hotel Slalom that is perfectly placed in Les Houches for summer walking opposite the start of the anti-clockwise TMB route and close to the ski lifts for winter ski-ing. Double rooms in the summer season €86-99 plus €10 breakfast.

Check for the best hotel prices in Chamonix and book here.

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Read more Tour de Mont Blanc tales

Day 1 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Les Houches to Refuge la Bellachat
Day 2 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Refuge de Bellachat to la Flegere
Video diary – walking the Tour de Mont Blanc path above Chamonix

Resources for those walking the Tour de Mont Blanc

We used the Cicerone Tour of Mont Blanc guide by Kev Reynolds – we found it to be an excellent guide for both the clockwise and anti-clockwise route with detailed route guide, maps, accommodation information and points of interest along the route.

We stayed at Refuges de Bellachat and la Flegere above Chamonix. Bookings for Refuge de Bellachat can be made only by telephone (04 50 53 43 23) and cost €40 for dinner, bed & breakfast. The cost of staying at Refuge la Flégère was €47 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast and bookings can be made by e-mail bellay.catherine@wanadoo.fr or telephone (04 50 55 85 88 ). To avoid disppointment and a long walk, you should book your place in all refuges but can normally do so a day or two before, or from the previous refuge.

In the Chamonix valley we stayed at the modern, stylish, budget boutique Hotel Slalom that is perfectly placed in Les Houches for summer walking opposite the start of the anti-clockwise TMB route and close to the ski lifts for winter ski-ing. Double rooms in the summer season €86-99 plus €10 breakfast.

We booked our transfer from Geneva airport to Les Houches through Chamexpress and found them to run an extremely efficient airport to hotel service – cost was €25 + tax per person each way.

The walkingthetmb website has useful information to help you plan and prepare for your Tour de Mont Blanc walk, with a packing list and some links to other people’s photographs and on-line diaries to inspire you.


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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Anil
    October 5, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Lac Blanc really reminds me of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

  • Reply
    Sunee
    October 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Looks like you had a good time and were lucky with the weather holding up. Would probably not have been much fun doing it in the rain! Was this a once off walking trip, or are you likely to take on some more mountain ranges in the near future?
    Sunee´s last blog post ..Good Prospects at Pilgrim’s Rest

  • Reply
    AdventureRob
    October 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Scenery looks brilliant! I’d love to hike around there.
    AdventureRob´s last blog post ..What Stuff to Travel With

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    October 5, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    @ Sunee – I must admit that before this trip I didn’t think of myself as a great mountain lover – it was more my friend’s idea but now I’m completely sold on this kind of trip, just so long as the sun shines of course!

  • Reply
    Mark H
    October 5, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Wonderful series on TMB making me very jealous. It must be one of the world’s great hikes. I love the food photos liberally sprinkled throughout the articles.
    Mark H´s last blog post ..Monster Minarets and Monuments Delhi- India

  • Reply
    Fondue, Raclette and Tartiflette - Savoyard specialities to enjoy | Heather on her travels
    October 6, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    […] you can finish off with a delightful Tarte au Mytille or blueberry tart, like the one we ate at Lac Blanc. I can tell you it definitely tastes best eaten on a sunny terrace of a Mountain Refuge with […]

  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    October 7, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Great information – thanks for providing all of the details! It looks like an amazing walk and I actually like the idea of breaking it up over multiple years!
    Sherry Ott´s last blog post ..signs

  • Reply
    Review of Tour of Mont Blanc by Kev Reynolds at Cicerone Press | Heather on her travels
    October 14, 2010 at 6:49 am

    […] Day 3 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Flégère to Lac Blanc Day 2 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Refuge de Bellachat to la Flegere Day 1 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Les Houches to Refuge la Bellachat […]

  • Reply
    Review of Hotel Slalom in Les Houches | Heather on her travels
    October 30, 2010 at 2:34 am

    […] Hotel Slalom is a great place to stay in Les Houches if you’re doing all or part of the Tour de Mont Blanc as we did, and a haven to take a rest during your circuit if the basic facilities of the mountain […]

  • Reply
    Dave Beedon
    March 19, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Reading about your three days of TMB hiking was a pleasure. My favorite part of your narrative was the way you described the easy day hikers below le Brévent with “their cheerful bonjour and air of having just jumped out of the shower.” I think I detected some friendly resentment in that phrase. 🙂

    To put your sweat into perspective, try doing the whole Tour du Mont Blanc as a 17-day backpacking trip with a 45-pound backpack, sleeping in a tent the whole time, and using primitive bathing to stay clean. That was my method August 1973. Though tiring, it was the greatest hiking experience of my life.

    Thanks for bringing back memories. I wish you success in completing the Tour and look forward to reading more of your TMB stories. Dave Beedon (davebeedon@comcast.net)

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    March 20, 2011 at 10:00 am

    @ Dave You are right that when you walk the TMB you develop a gentle snobbery for thise who take the chair lft up and then wander around for a while before heading down the same way, contrasting with the ‘proper’ TMB walkers who are doing the whole circuit or at least slepping in the hits as we did.

    I can imagine the sense of achievment having walked the whole TMB in one go, but I think we would have found it mentally as well as physically exhausting and so the approach of doing it in a series of shorter stages suits us well. We hope to do another leg later this year.

  • Reply
    Hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc in the Alps. | Roaming Tales
    April 27, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    […] mousse, we decided that the next day we would press onwards and upwards to the glacial lake of Lac Blanc before descending once more to the […]

  • Reply
    Up the mountain and down again - on the TMB near Chamonix | Heather on her travels
    May 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    […] Day 1 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Les Houches to Refuge de Bellachat Day 2 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Refuge de Bellachat to Flégère Day 3 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Flégère to Lac Blanc […]

  • Reply
    My Tour de Mont Blanc diary Day 1 - Flégère to Refuge Col de Balme | Heather on her travels
    September 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    […] A tale of two refuges – on the Tour de Mont Blanc (2011) Day 2 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Refuge de Bellachat to Flégère (2010) Day 3 on the Tour de Mont Blanc – Flégère to Lac Blanc (2010) […]

  • Reply
    Where Heather travelled in 2010 | Heather on her travels
    November 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

    […] huts, with amazing views of Mont Blanc on the opposite side of the valley, visiting the glacial Lac Blanc and the ice cave in the Mer de glace at Montenvers. We enjoyed the experience so much that […]

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