The Greater Tour du Mont-Blanc
235 km long / 11'250 m vertical
Towering high above all of its neighbors, Mont-Blanc rises at 4’809 m above sea level. The top of Europe marks the border between France and Italy, and is visible from far away from many different angles in Switzerland. Our « greater » circumambulation starts from our home in the Val de Bagnes, and covers the three countries around the massif. A real bike adventure through Alpine culture, amazing landscapes and local cuisines.
The first ascent of Mont-Blanc, by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard, in 1786 under the initiative of Horace Benedict de Saussure, marked the start of alpinism. The Mont-Blanc doesn’t need to be introduced today, so big is its fame. Hordes of mountaineers come from every corner of the world with the hope to climb it (or at least give it a try…) as well as the numerous and beautiful summits that form the Mont-Blanc Massif, dominating the valleys of Chamonix in France or Courmayeur in Italy. Besides climbers, it attracts thousands of trekkers every summer, who hike around the whole mountain range, following what’s nowadays know as the TMB, the Tour du Mont-Blanc, one of the most famous treks in the world. Every August the three bordering countries of France, Italy and Switzerland welcome the celebrated UTMB, the Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, when runners from all around the world come to compete and run the 170 km long race, climbing a total of over 10’000 meters.
With so many hikers trampling these trails, one can easily imagine how good and nice they can feel under the rubber of a mountain-bike tires… Indeed the TMB has become a favorite among bikers. Cycling through these Alpine valleys around one of the most famous ranges in the world is an absolute must ! Our extended version takes you a few steps further, following lesser known trails and including inside the loop the Combins Massif, our home mountains !
From the Val de Bagnes, home of the best Raclette cheese and Swiss dried meat, we will cross the Alps into Italy, enjoying fun rides on beautiful trails that will lead you into the Aosta Valley region, home of polenta, pastas, cold meats and Italian wines. A rarely trodden trail will bring you to an unreal pass that is hard to believe it’s crossable. Don’t worry, if you don’t feel like doing it the tough way, we’ve got plenty of alternate and more classic ways to bring you around those mountains ! You will now enjoy the Italian side of the Mont-Blanc, with stunning views and wow trails, before jumping over into France, with another very enjoyable flow trail that will be concluded with the local speciality, la Tartiflette (look it up on the internet, it’s mouth watering…). Interesting too is how the landscapes change as you advance in the tour. Another lake, another remote pass and we’ll end up the third day down a flow bike park before the comfort of a well deserved hotel and dinner. On this day, with a clear sky, the view on the Mont-Blanc is out of this world !
It is now time to cross a pass that is the entrance to the world famous Valley of Chamonix, and to celebrate this, why not a run on a bike-park ! We are now at the very feet of Mont-Blanc, and at the end of the Chamonix Valley is another pass, and it’s back to Switzerland ! To get back home to Verbier, there are many different possibilities to choose from depending on your level, and we’ll leave that for later. Time to celebrate, the loop is buckled up !
Arrive in Val de Bagnes
Ride around Verbier
Verbier - Etroubles
Etroubles - Courmayeur
We are now mainly following the trekking trail around Mont-Blanc, so let us be careful and courteous, hikers always have priority ! We follow a beautiful more or less level track until we reach another "rifugio" and we'll decide whether to continue down a rather demanding and hurting rocky trail that requires good technique, or to backtrack a bit and take a smooth and easy way down the valley into town.
Courmayeur - Les Contamines
Contamines - Le Châble
Back in Le Châble/Verbier, it is now time to celebrate and cheer up, you've made it !