Book review: Mont Blanc Walks
Cicerone has an amazing collection of books and when I am heading to a new area for walking or running, I like to take one or two with me. On a trip to Chamonix in the French Alps, I packed the Cicerone Trail Running in Chamonix and Mont Blanc Region book as well as the Mont Blanc Walks book.
Mont Blanc Walks has 50 day walks and four multi-day walks. The guidebook explores the popular walking region around Mont Blanc (4808m), which is the highest mountain in Western Europe.
The book suggests walking routes in France and Italy, which range from 3km to 20km, as well as four multi-day treks. There are walk routes – graded 1 to 3 – on a variety of terrain, including valley footpaths, ridges and via ferratas.
The author, Hilary Sharp, offers good descriptions and tips and it was hard to choose which walk to go for. To be honest, I don’t think you’ll find a rubbish walk in this area!
During my stay in Chamonix, I mixed walking and running on routes in the Cicerone trail running and walking guide. (There is a bit of obvious cross over between the books because there are trails that are great for both walking and running.)
We enjoyed two routes that we mainly walked (although were we fancied we did run, too!).
Le Chapeau and Tetes des Prapators
- Start/finish: Le Lavancher
- Distance: 10km
- Ascent: 600m
The weather did not look too promising and there was a lot of cloud cover higher up, so we chose a route that would reach a lower point. The thing about Chamonix, however, is that there is little in the way of lower routes really!
Amazingly, we got lucky with the weather and while this route headed to a high point of 1844m, we did not find ourselves in the clouds at all.
It was only towards the end that we got caught in an almighty rain shower.
From the off, the path heads upwards. There is a lovely mountain cafe, Le Chapeau at 1550m and a little too early in the walk to stop but we decided to anyway. I am glad we did because we were served by the most charming young waiter.
He was aged around 11 and he is Danish, but spoke perfect french and English. We enjoyed coffees and shared a sweet caramel crepe.
This fuelled us for the rest of the ascent. Well, some of it! I don’t think we had realised just how high we would go and the path kept on going – and going.
I loved it, though, and the views were amazing. G was having a tired day so he was slower on the ups but somehow found renewed energy for the walk donwhill. There were also short scrambling sections aided by metal ladders and ropes.
The descents can be as sore as the ascents on leg muscles although we were thankful for the shade of a forest as we returned to Le Lavancher.
This is a route that I would highly recommend.
Aiguillette des Posettes
- Start/finish: Car park on the southside of Col des Montets, just after Tre-le-Champ
- Distance: 10km
- Ascent: 930m
Tis route was recommended by a friend who lives in Chamonix. It did not disappoint. It is an easy route to follow thanks to the signposts and it is not too tough.
The ascent is relatively gentle compared to many routes in the area although still a reasonably tough undertaking. (I think I had become used to very seep ascents so this seemed like an easier walk.)
The outward section was hot in places, though, because the path is open and exposed to the sun. The views are tremendous.
The summit was busy with people (I prefer places to be less walked!) but we found an area that was fairly quiet so we could enjoy the warm sunshine at an altitude of 2201m.
We chose to make a circuit of the route and descended down to lush green meadows and then via a ski road and on to a fantastic path that traverses the side of the mountain lower down. This path zigzags downhill through gorgeous pine trees and with yet more splendid views.
This is a lovely route and also highly recommended.