A tour around the Tour du Mont Blanc - Day 3, Les Chapieux to Refugio Elisabetta
This is a magnificent day crossing from France into Italy via the Col de la Seigne (2516m) with some fantastic views of the Mont Blanc massif with the Aiguille Noire towering above you.
Todays walk is 15 kms which will take around four to five hours, so a fairly gentle day today with all the uphill at the beginning and, what feels like a long descent, down towards the Elisabetta.
Leaving Les Chapieux, after about half an hour, a new path leaves the road, crosses the river and traverses up the side of the valley towards the hamlet of La Ville des Glaciers.
After leaving the hamlet, in another thirty minutes, you will reach the Refuge des Mottets and the path turns uphill and climbs towards the Col de la Seigne. The junction is actually just above the Refuge so it’s a small detour if you want to visit it. A steep climb will take you the final easier approach slopes and your arrival at the Col de la Seigne (2516m) after about one and a half hours.
The change of view when you arrive at the Col is stunning. Below is the deep valley forming the southern side of the main Mont Blanc massif. The summit of Mont Blanc itself dominates along with the impressive Aiguille Noire de Peuterey. In the distance you can see the distinct Grand Col Ferret which will be crossed on Day 6 and beyond you will have tantalising glimpses of the Grand Combin and Mont Vélan. Up to the left you can see the grassy ridge tomorrows route follows. Its hard to leave this inspiring viewpoint and an early lunch may well be the order of the day!
As a reminder of the fact you have just crossed the border into Italy, there is an old customs house about ten minutes below the col, which now houses an information centre and small museum.
From the Col, it’s a straight forward descent down the valley under towering rock towers, to reach the summer pasture below where there are often animals grazing (and tuneful bells) . At the end of the pasture there is a short climb up to the Rifugio Elisabetta on your left.
If you fancy getting off the beaten track for a while, and have even better views of the Mont Blanc, turn right at the Col de la Seigne and follow a reasonable path round to below the Col de Chavannes.
Its fairly straight forward with one short steep section to gain the plateau below the Col. Where the path starts to rise to the Col, keep traversing along the edge of the plateau on a faint path to join the main trail which descends down to Vallon de la Lée Blanche at the pasture and hence back onto the TMB.
Enjoy your day for tomorrow is Courmayeur, one of the most beautiful, if very expensive, places to visit in the Italian Alps.