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Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
The trip starts today at our Alpine chalet-style hotel in the village of Les Houches in the Chamonix Valley. Your Tour Leader plans to meet everyone in the hotel reception at 6pm for a welcome meeting. Afterwards, we'll enjoy an included dinner together at the hotel. Hotel du Bois is our home for the week. With a relaxed atmosphere, indoor swimming pool, sauna and gardens with views across the Mont Blanc range, it makes for the perfect walkers' base. There's a cosy bar and restaurant serving local specialties and homemade dishes.
It's easy to reach our joining hotel in Les Houches independently; an arrival transfer is not included with this tour. We recommend using the Mountain Drop Offs shared shuttle bus service which departs regularly from Geneva Airport throughout the day and takes just over an hour. The shuttle will drop you at the door of the hotel, tickets cost €50 and can be booked online at https://www.mountaindropoffs.com/.
Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. Please note that the official check-in time at the hotel is from 3 pm, although rooms will be allocated as soon as they are available. If you arrive earlier in the day and wish to explore, the lively centre of Chamonix with its many shops and pavement cafes is just 15 minutes away by local bus.
Hotel du Bois (or similar)
We set out this morning from the hotel on a walk to Chamonix, following the side of the valley along a section of a longer route known as the Petit Balcon Sud. Although this is an easy and relatively low level hike, there are some excellent views through the trees of the glaciers and ridges that descend from Mont Blanc across the other side of the Chamonix valley. Reaching the town we'll take a short break, perhaps enjoying a morning coffee at one the many pavement cafes, before continuing alongside the River Arve to Paradis du Praz, a beautiful spot among the trees, where we can enjoy our included picnic lunch in a shaded spot. In the afternoon, you've the choice of either continuing on the hike or you can decide not to walk and spend the afternoon as you like, perhaps browsing the shops in Chamonix or maybe relaxing in the garden or taking a dip in the indoor swimming pool, back at our hotel.
Our afternoon hiking route climbs up through the woods (an ascent of some 300 metres) to the pretty mountain cafe of Chalet La Floria with its wonderful flowers and superb views down to the Chamonix Valley below. We then descend back down to the bottom of the valley, eventually returning to Chamonix, with time for a look around the town. Chamonix is a famous mountain resort, popular year round with outdoor enthusiasts, adventure seekers and nature lovers. Occupying a simply stunning setting below the snow-capped peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif, it has a charming Alpine ambience with an array of shops, restaurants and cafes. A frequent bus service connects Chamonix to Les Houches and it's also possible to make the journey by train. You'll be provided with a public transport travel pass at the start of the week that includes all travel on the local buses and trains within the Chamonix Valley and it's easy to get around.
The morning walk of 12 kilometres will take us around three-and-a-half hours and is pretty much on the flat. Our optional walk in the afternoon is five kilometres and will take around two-and-a half hours with a total ascent and descent of 300 metres each way.
This morning we walk from our hotel to the Bellevue cable car which carries us up the side of the valley to an elevation of 1800 metres in a matter of minutes. Exiting from the cable car, we are on the Grand Balcon Nord, part of the famous Tour du Mont Blanc trekking route and an amazing spot from which to view Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc (4810m), looming high above. This is also the starting point of the main route for climbing Mont Blanc and we may see some mountaineers returning from the summit. We can enjoy views of the Contamines Valley, Mont Joly and towards the Aravais mountain range. From here our hike descends to the Col du Voza (1653m) and then up to Le Prarion, a small peak at 1969m with spectacular 360 degree views. We then make our descent through the forest back to Les Houches. For anyone not wishing to make this 1000 metre descent, you can save your knees and take the cable car.
Today's 13 kilometre walk is expected to take around four to five hours with a total ascent of 300m and a descent of 1150m which can be reduced by 1000m (and five-and-a-half kilometres) by taking the cable car back down.
This morning we travel by local bus along the length of the Chamonix Valley, passing some beautiful scenery and iconic mountains such the Les Drus and the Aiguille d'Argentiere. Our hike starts at the Col du Montets (1461m), the gateway to the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve. We can take a look at the visitor centre before setting out to the pretty hamlet of Le Buet (1300m), a hike of around an hour. From here we take a short walk to the river and then climb up through meadows to Les Cascades du Berard - waterfalls in a lovely setting (1400m). There's a cafe here for some welcome refreshment. Continuing alongside the river we hike further into the forest of the Berard Valley. A short climb brings us to Les Granges (1566m), a hamlet with summer houses and a viewpoint of the Mont Blanc range from the east. Descending via a different route, we take the train or a local bus back to Les Houches.
Today's eight kilometre walk is expected to take around four to five hours with a total ascent of 300m and descent of 500m.
Today has been left free and your Leader will be able to advise on the many options available.
One of the most poular activities is to take a ride up the two spectacular cable cars to the Aiguille du Midi (3842m) for arguably the finest view in the Alps. At this height you are among the great Alpine peaks and glaciers, with unimpeded views on a clear day from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn over 60 kilometres away. The brave-hearted can experience the thrill of 'Step into the Void', a glass box that allows visitors to stand above a precipitous drop, giving the sensation of floating in mid-air. Another unique excursion is taking the old cog-railway to Montenvers from where you can take a series of steps down to the Mer de Glace and go inside the glacier itself. For those after an even more active day, mountain bike hire is available, there are whitewater rafting trips that can be booked or you could even choose to go on another hike.
We take a bus ride along the Chamonix Valley to Le Tour, a small, pretty village at the head of the valley at 1462m above sea level. From here we take a gondola lift to Charamillon at 1850m and then change and take a chair lift up to Les Autannes at 2195m. We are high above the trees and are in marmot country where you can hear the shrill whistles from enthusiastic young males. We hike to the Col de Balme at 2190m which marks the border between France and Switzerland and you can literally have one foot in each country! The panoramic views are of the Trient Glacier, Swiss mountains and the Emosson Dam. Leaving the Col, we make an ascent of the Aiguillettes des Possettes, 2201m, for even better views before returning to the valley floor via the gondola lift.
Today's eight kilometre walk is expected to take around four to five hours with a total ascent of 300m and descent of up to 500m.
We catch a bus this morning to the village of Les Praz, from where it's a short telecabin ride to the Chalet de la Flegere (1871m). Our hike takes us along on a section of the famous Tour du Mont Blanc to Lac Blanc (2352m) for incredible panoramic views of the whole Mont Blanc range. It's approximately two-to two-and-a-half hours to the lake and this spectacular walk is a fitting end to the holiday with magnificent views all around. We descend to Chalet de la Flegere and return to Chamonix via a forest walk. For those with tired legs, you can choose to take the cable car back down to the valley floor.
Today's ten kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with a total ascent of 470m and descent of up to 1300m depending on the route taken.
The trip ends today after breakfast at our hotel in Les Houches. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Les Houches at any time. If you are departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel.
It's easy to reach Geneva Airport independently; a departure transfer is not included with this tour. We recommend using the Mountain Drop Offs shared shuttle bus service which runs regularly throughout the day and takes just over an hour to the airport. Tickets cost €50 and can be booked online at https://www.mountaindropoffs.com/.
Total distance : 56 kilometres
Across France, from April - August, weather conditions are generally warm and pleasant with moderate rainfall; Autumn temperatures are a bit lower and the winter months (though colder) remain mild. The summer months on the Mediterranean Coast in the south tend to be warmer than the rest of France and have less rainfall, and also more mild winters; freezing conditions are nearly unheard of. The mountainous areas of the Alps, Juros and Pyrenees can be quite different. During summer the morning and evening temperatures are considerably cooler and it becomes much colder in winter with heavy snowfall. Western France, along the English Channel, there can be very strong winds and frequent rain during the winter months Nov - Apr. Wine harvesting takes place in late August/early September.
2 Pin Round
Aiguille du Midi - Panoramic views of Alps €55 Mountain biking - Full day's hire €30 Rock climbing - Half day €45 Rafting - 1.5 hours / €40-60 per person (depends on number of people taking part) Public swimming pool - (3 pools, jacuzzi and slide) - €6.70
Please be aware that in the mountains temperatures can change dramatically at altitude and at night.The following are essential for all departure dates in addition to your everyday clothing that you will change into for travelling/evenings etc:- Good quality waterproof jacket and trousers Fleece jacket Comfortable walking trousers (not jeans) Shorts T-shirts and midlayer - dry flow wicking clothing is better than cotton Warm hat and gloves Sunhat Sunglasses Swimwear - there is an indoor pool at our hotel. If you wish to use the outdoor public swimming pool in Chamonix, please note that French health regulations require men to wear proper swimming trunks, not loose Bermuda / boxer-style shorts.
We recommend you bring walking boots with ankle support, leather or fabric are both fine. Make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Bring trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear in the evening and around town. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
One main piece of baggage and a waterproof daysac (30-40 litres is recommended as sufficient to carry clothing, picnic, water etc). If you don't have a raincover, a plastic bag can be used to line your daysac.
Reusable water bottle (preferably 2 litres) Trekking poles are highly recommended - there are descents of over 1000 metres High factor sun cream Plastic lunch box for picnics Energy snacks including chocolate and sweets for the trek days
Bus, Cable Car
The three-star Hotel du Bois is an attractive alpine chalet with 43 guest rooms in the heart of the small village of Les Houches, just five km from Chamonix. The village has some small bars, a couple of supermarkets, a post office, bank and tourist office, and makes a great base for accessing some of the most beautiful walking in the Alps. The hotel's restaurant serves French cuisine and wine and there is a cosy bar with outside seating where you can enjoy a drink in the sunshine; an ideal spot to wind down after a day walking. The large garden has wonderful views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley and the hotel has a heated indoor pool and a sauna. Breakfast comes as a continental buffet with cereals and dinner is generally a three-course set menu. WiFi internet connection is available free of charge. Mountain bikes are available to hire if you fancy exploring on 2 wheels for a while. All bedrooms are light and enjoy views of the mountains. They have en suite private bathrooms with a full bath and a hairdryer provided. Simply and tastefully furnished, rooms are equipped with a flat screen TV, telephone, mini bar, small desk and wardrobe.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
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Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
France: Visas are not required by UK, E.U Nationals, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
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Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
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You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of water based activities. If you wish to participate in optional white water rafting then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory. Tetanus recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.