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The Tour du Mont Blanc, also known as the TMB, is one of the most popular long-distance hikes in the world.
The route circles the entire Mont Blanc Massif, which rises to a height of 4,808 meters above sea level—the highest point in Western Europe and the European Union.
The hiking route covers "a distance of roughly 170 kilometres (110 mi) with 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) of ascent/descent and passes through parts of Switzerland, Italy and France,” according to Wikipedia. While the TMB doesn’t climb to the summit of Mont Blanc, the route climbs up and over numerous high alpine passes, providing stunning views in all directions! Thanks to a well-developed system of huts, along with towns and hotels along the route, there are numerous options for staying overnight and resupplying as you journey around the loop. Unlike the hiking version of the TMB, the mountain biking version of this route isn’t nearly as well defined.
Instead, riders can choose from numerous route variants.
For this variant we tried to optimise for maximum time in the saddle, and minimum time carrying your bike.
This means the tour has several longer segments of paved road, particularly on the climbs.
This section of the tour starts in Lax des Champex.
Start with some easy downhill singletrack through the forest into the valley below.
Then you have an easy climb through the valley farmlands.
You'll pass through the small town of La Fouly - there's a supermarket here to stock up on supplies.
From La Fouly you'll follow a paved segment for a few kilometres to the east of the river.
When you cross the river, it's time to start the first hard climb of the day. This section follows the classic Tour du Mont Blanc hiking trail.
Depending on the time of year, the trail might be very crowded with hikers.
Ride carefully and always give way to people on foot. The climb from the valley floor to the Grand Col Ferret is technically easy singletrack and hiking trail, with occasional sections where you might have to carry your bike over some rutted out path. The view from the top of the Col is spectacular - stop here for a selfie! And welcome to Italy! The descent into the next valley is quite technical riding.
The hiking path is worn and rutted and there are very frequent erosion barriers that you'll need to either hop over or stop and carry.
It's also quite steep in places. Once you reach the farmhouse at the bottom the trail quickly gets flat and becomes easy, rolling down into the valley.
You'll quickly start following a paved road that will take you down to the town of Entreves.
There are a few great places to stop and eat along the way. In Entreves, resist the temptation to jump into the gondola and ride on into the next valley.
There's a short, steep climb with the magnificent glacier Ghiacciaio della Brenva on your right, followed by an easy roll through the forest. Once you hit the unpaved road you'll be surrounded by spectacular alpine terrain and a feeling of being far, far away from civilisation. The trail gets steeper gradually; when you reach the first switchbacks you're already close to the Col de la Seigne.
The Elisabetta Soldini Montanaro refuge offers a last chance to stop for the night; otherwise continue up to the top.
Past the refuge the trail gets narrow, washed out and technical; you might have to carry for a few sections.
At the col, you'll leave Italy and ride into France. The descent is fairly easy singletrack down into the valley.
Shortly after you pass the farmhouse you'll hit paved road, and from there it's an easy roll through the valley to Les Chappieux. Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_du_Mont_Blanc