The Tour du Mont Blanc is legendary; 3 countries and 3 cultures with amazing views day after day – all based around the tallest Mountain in Europe – the mighty Mont Blanc. We want everyone possible to enjoy the iconic Tour of Mont Blanc, so we have dedicated this blog to those adventurous families who are curious about taking this great multi-day hike together and introducing a new generation to the rugged beauty of the mountains.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is accessible to older families, it is NOT, however, a “walk in the park”… if you are a family that enjoys hiking and the freedom this can bring, then the Tour du Mont Blanc might just be the adventure you are looking for. Each of the sections of the Tour du Mont Blanc brings stunning scenery and a new adventure on the hiking trail. It’s a multi-day hike which offers your family the chance to discover each new delight together and to come together in a way that only shared challenges, triumphs and the great outdoors can.
The full Tour du Mont Blanc circuit takes you on a 170-kilometre journey around the Mont Blanc mountain range with an accumulation of 10,000m of height gain and descent. You hike together through three alpine regions within France, Italy and Switzerland, circumnavigating the awesome Mont Blanc which stands at 4810m.
We would suggest that the minimum age for children to trek the entire TMB circuit would be 10 years old, as long as you all have experience hiking in the mountains and are used to the unique challenges the mountains can bring. It takes around 10 days, but we recommend adding in two full rest days in areas along the Tour du Mont Blanc trail that have fun for all the family to enjoy. If you feel as though your family would suit a shorter walking holiday of the Tour of Mont Blanc, we recommend the 'Best of the TMB' 6-day trek which focuses on the trek highlights and can also be adapted to suit your family.
Choosing any walking holiday together is all about knowing your family’s character and limitations. We have hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc with our own family at different stages of their childhood and are used to tailoring treks for those who love hiking with children. We are here for you every step of the way, so please feel free to ask us anything about hiking the TMB with kids…
Top 10 Tips for Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc with your Family:
CHILDREN SHOULD BE EXPERIENCED IN THE MOUNTAINS AND KNOW WHAT IT TAKES FOR LONG DAYS ON THE TRAIL
This is a general rule that we think families should bear in mind. With plenty of rest stops and a good lunch, you will be on the TMB trail around 7 to 9 hours per day.
A support vehicle would be a good idea, if the trail conditions were not favourable and the weather inclement then you would be able to skip a day and take transport to the next location.
Train for the Tour du Mont Blanc!
Your children need to be comfortable walking for long periods and taking in elevation highs and lows. Every child is different – but they all love the outdoors, so practice hikes will allow you to get their needs met and them to discover the fun to be had walking together.
Weekly walks will get the children used to the weather too – it’s not always sunny in the Alps!
Complete some practice hikes as a family before you tackle the TMB
Getting the family together beforehand will enable you to set realistic goals for your walking holiday. Once you have seen the speed and ability of everyone in the group (and tested this out a couple of times!) you can think about how you can adapt to make sure that this is a memorable trip for everyone. Your family, by its nature, spans generations – but it will also have different personalities and it’s important that you all realise you are in this together and need to take care of each other’s wants and needs whilst multi-day hiking.
Test out ALL your gear before walking the Tour Du Mont Blanc
It’s always a good idea to test walking kit prior to use as there’s nothing worse than a shoe that rubs or a backpack that’s just too heavy. Use the kit on your practice walks to see what works and what doesn’t. Everyone's shoes need to be broken-in and your backpacks tried and tested.
Having the right kit is essential, warm and waterproof layers are a must. If the weather turns for the worse whilst at the elevations you reach on the Tour du Mont Blanc, then you need to be well protected against the cold and the rain.
We will transport all of the overnight and heavy gear for you to your next accommodation, but you will still need plenty of things along the hiking trails – have a look at our kit list information if you want more details.
For kids it’s even more important than us to be hydrated, so we suggest a fun backpack for them that incorporates things to do, eat and drink.
Use A Self Guided or Guided Outfitter
Granted – we would say that! But we aren’t just going on our own experience – we have listened carefully to the feedback from our clients over the years. It IS possible to organise everything for the Tour du Mont blanc yourself as it’s a tried and tested route with great guide books. However, it’s also really popular hiking trail and there are a lot of variables and choices to be made – as well as the administrative side of booking the transport, the luggage transfers and suitable TMB accommodation in various languages.
If you try to take all of this on for yourself – whoever is the organiser is likely to be finishing each section of the trail hoping that the luggage arrived, the accommodation works for the family and that there will be food available to suit everyone in the group.
We take all of the “legwork” (pardon the pun!) out of the trip. So that you are left with what you signed up in the first place for – time. Time to enjoy the walk, to take in the views and most importantly spend quality time with your family.
Choose whether to self guided or pick a guided tour of Mont Blanc
A self-guided tour means you won’t be part of a group (and you won’t have a guide). However, we will give you everything that you need for a self-guided trek of Tour du Mont Blanc, from your starting point to daily end point - at your family’s pace. This could be the perfect choice if your family are confident hikers and love the independence of making this classic hiking route your very own adventure.
Please bear in mind if you choose the self-guided tour, you need to be equipped with essentials such as first-aid kit, compass, maps and whistle – and most importantly know how to use them. It’s rugged terrain and high elevation – bad weather can approach fast and although the trail is very well marked, you need to be able to navigate your way safely to the next refuge.
With a guided tour, as well as all the route information and bookings that you will need, you will also have a qualified mountain guide with you every step of the way. Mountain guides will make all the essential decisions for you, based on their knowledge of the TMB, the mountain weather and your family’s needs. Choose this option if you prefer the safety-net of a qualified mountain guide and all the benefits their knowledge can bring, not just of trekking but of the history and natural wonders of the Tour du Mont Blanc. It could be the ideal way to ensure that everyone in your family has nothing but fun. However, unless you book a guided tour just for your family group, please bear in mind that you do have the responsibility to keep to the pace of the group.
With either choice, we will provide you with everything you need: Comprehensive route information tailored to you and your family; guidebooks, pre-booked accommodation and luggage transfers.
Rest days – adding these to your TMB Itinerary also adds fun!
This walking holiday takes you through some of the most beautiful areas of the Alps, why not stop and look around? Your family’s capacity to walk each day is likely to be mixed and therefore it makes sense to schedule in one or two days where people can take a break, do something different or simply just rest. There are so many fantastic Alpine villages and areas of outstanding natural beauty along the Tour du Mont Blanc, having some time to take it all in can enrich everyone’s holiday.
Hotels versus Mountain Huts
Securing accommodation is one of the trickier aspects of this walking holiday and we promise you, you will feel better letting us take care of this for you rather than trying to organise suitable family accommodation on the Tour du Mont Blanc with each independent hostel owner. The more popular the route has become, the more varied the accommodation has become to try to meet the demands of hikers – but not all of it is suitable for families.
Mountain Huts (or refuges) are great traditional accommodation – and handily placed on the mountains! Hotels are also individual, family-run operations (we make sure we only offer you accommodation we personally use and recommend) but are situated down in the valleys.
The reason you need to give it thought is because of the sleeping arrangements.
Mountain huts often have dormitories or at least sleeping accommodation at close quarters to others. So, you need to think about your children and a) their ability to sleep in this environment and b) the impact of your children on other hikers sharing the accommodation.
If you don’t feel that refuges are suitable for your family then the hotels offer comfortable beds, private bathrooms and more choice of both things to do and food to eat. The downside is the extra elevation gain and loss on each section of the trail - as you need to be on the valley floor as each day comes to an end.
There are, however, combinations of route alterations and using the mountain lift network that allow you to make the right accommodation choices for you and still enjoy the new horizons each day brings you on the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Food – combine snacks with eating lunch at the Mountain Refuges
Anyone with children knows the importance of snacks – the right snack at the right time can ease just about every situation! However, with everything else that you will be bringing with you on the tour you might want to think about budgeting a little extra and stopping for lunch in the mountain huts along the route. For a start the food they produce is delicious – and their meals are traditional to the area, so a great way for you to sample Alpine living. It’s also not expensive and each and every refuge we recommend on the Tour du Mont Blanc is set in the most glorious surroundings imaginable!
Don’t carry your luggage on the Tour du Mont Blanc!
As we’ve said before, the Mont Blanc Circuit is not a walk in the park! Each day’s hike involves a large amount of elevation gain and loss and carrying a heavy pack will not be easy – especially if you are carrying for children too.
Much better to carry a day-pack with the essentials and have everything else transferred to your next accommodation.
Tour du Mont Blanc Map
In today’s world we move at such a fast pace - often it’s hard to find time to spend with your family. And sometimes our children become so “connected” to computers and phones that it's hard to gain their enthusiasm for family time…
Choosing to walk the Tour du Mont Blanc together is a chance to re-connect with the outdoors, with nature and with what really matters - each other.
To see what one of our clients who came as a family group with a Trekking with Kids thought of their self guided trek. Have a look at their beautiful blog. This group trekked with a very young child, however they did have a support vehicle so the child could ride certain sections, which was essential for safety reasons.
These mountains can be very inhospitable in poor weather even in the height of summer, therefore a multi-day itineraries would not be suitable for babies or small children who can’t walk very far and need to be carried.
If you have young children then it might be a good idea to try a centre-based holiday with day hiking, this way you can tailor make each hike to suit your exact needs.
And if you have any questions about hiking with your children, please get in touch.