A tour around the Tour - Day 1, Les Houches to Les Contamines
This first day of the trek is a superb introduction to the TMB and a taste of the magnificent scenery you will be seeing around the whole trek; offering the some fantastic and varied views including beautiful forests, close-ups of the Mont Blanc range, tumbling glaciers and some well placed café stops!
As a rough guide, the distance for the day will be about 18km. Depending on how fast you walk (or how many cafe stops you have!) the walk will take around seven to eight hours. Again, depending on whether on not you take the cable car for the first part, there is a fair bit of ascent, 1480m., and descent, 1320m., on this first day.
Starting in the picturesque village of Les Houches, finding the start of the TMB path is not obvious at first! Using the bottom of the Bellevue Telepherique station as a landmark, carry on along the road in a westerly direction towards “Le Grand Balcon” hotel. This is the start of the path which rises up through some woods and houses until you reach Le Tremble (1050m). Make sure you keep looking over your shoulder as there are tantalizing glimpses of the beautiful Chamonix Valley and the Aguille du Midi behind you.
From here, continue towards the Col de Voza, which you will reach in around 2 hours following a mixture of forest trails, ski runs and land rover tracks.
After the long climb up to the Col de Voza, you will be rewarded with some stunning views looking down the Valleé de l’Arve. Turn left and continue up the land rover track towards the well-named Bellevue. It is worth savoring the views up the Chamonix Valley as they will soon be lost until nearer the end of the trip. The footpath now traverses round the hill side for about 45 mins and you finally feel like you are getting away from civilization!
Once out of the trees, the dominating view is the impressive Glacier de Bionassay and the Dôme du Goûter which tower above you. The path descends down through some moraine to reach an impressive suspension bridge, reminiscent of the wire bridges found in the Himalaya, which crosses the outflow from the Glacier de Bionnassay.
It’s a good hour then up to the Col.
Its often busy at the Col so its well worth considering stopping to eat your picnic on the way up. Its also a great excuse to break the climb and have lunch whilst soaking up the views.
At the Col you are rewarded with fine views all round including the new view which opens up to the south. Looking ahead you can see the rest of the day’s high points plus most of tomorrows route up from Les Contamines.
From the Col, there is a steep descent to Refuge de Miage and a welcome cake and coffee stop amidst some spectacular scenery.
Just past the Refuge the path descends slightly to a bridge. Turn left and follow the track to Les Truc, which gives a short climb to the Auberge. Again, this is a fantastic spot to savour the views and relax before the final descent to Les Contamines.
Continuing past the Auberge, the path starts to descend through some beautiful woodland before joining the forest track again which eventually becomes the road which descends into the picturesque village of Les Contamines.
In Les Contamines there are many accommodation options ranging from Refuges to Hotels.
A fairly long first day but sure you will have enjoyed the spectacular views along the way. Even higher and even more views tomorrow.