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Hiking Tour du Mont Blanc Stage 1: Le Brévent to Les Houches 

Stage 1 of the Tour du Mont Blanc usually starts in Les Houches, a village in Chamonix Valley, 6 km west of Chamonix. However, by the recommendation of Alpenventures UNGUIDED, we started stage 1 directly in Chamonix with a cableway ascent to Le Brévent summit.

This stretch of the Tour du Mont Blanc angles down the slopes of the Aiguilles Rouges mountains, the crystalline mountain chain opposite the Mont Blanc massif. From this high trail, hikers look across Chamonix Valley (Vallée de l’Arve) to the Mont Blanc peaks and glaciers.

As you can imagine, the initial descent to Refuge de Bellachat is sensational, delivering unobstructed views of the glaciated Mont Blanc mountains. However, the second half of the stage is less interesting and honestly tedious.

Although this stage only takes 3:30 – 4:00 hours, it’s quite demanding because it entails a steep and continuous 1500 meter (4921 feet) descent from Le Brévent summit (2526 meters / 8287 feet) all the way down to the valley floor.

For those starting the Tour du Mont Blanc in Les Houches, read Stage 2: Les Houches – Les Contamines-Montjoie.

This stage passes through the Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve and the Carlaveyron réserve. In these protected areas, the following activities are strictly prohibited: wild camping, flying drones, fires, picking flowers and/or rocks, dogs, and paragliding.

Good to Know: Typically, TMB trekkers will hike from Le Brévent to Les Houches on the last day of their trek. However, many forgo this final leg, because they want to end their trip in Chamonix rather than Les Houches. 

Le Brevent, Chamonix, France

Le Brévent to Les Houches Trail Map

How to Get to Le Brévent

Planpraz Gondola +  Brévent Cable Car 

Walk to the Planpraz/Brévent valley station in Chamonix. 

Purchase a one-way ticket to Le Brévent. 

From Chamonix, take the Planpraz gondola lift followed by the Le Brévent cable car to reach Le Brévent. 

Valley Station Location | 29 r Henriette d’Angeville 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc | Google Maps

Adult Ticket Prices | 27.50 EUR one-way 

Operating Times | Brevent Cable Car 

Le Brévent to Les Houches Trail Description

Le Brévent to Refuge de Bellachat (45 min – 1 hour)

Le Brevent to Refuge de Bellachat Hiking Trail, Tour du Mont Blanc, Chamonix

The summit of Le Brévent (2525 meters) affords unobstructed views of the Mont Blanc massif and a bird’s-eye view of Chamonix valley. It’s tempting to linger here and savor a meal at Restaurant Le Panoramic, before starting the trek. 

Head to the trail junction just below the summit. Turn left in the direction of Bel-Lachat, signed 45 minutes. 

Facing the glaciated Mont Blanc mountains, the trail descends amidst a field of boulders. Slabs of rocks have been carefully positioned to allow for easy passage across the rugged landscape. 

Le Brevent to Refuge de Bellachat, Tour du Mont Blanc, France

The path steadily continues south towards a crest and then veers southwest beneath it. Views of Mont Blanc disappear, but the shimmering Lac du Brévent offers compensation. 

Lac du Brévent, Chamonix, France

A sharp left accompanied by metal handrail brings you to another panoramic stretch of Le Grand Balcon Sud

The TMB follows a rise and then zigzags down to the rustic Refuge de Bellachat (also spelled Bel-Lachat), situated at 2152 meters.

Refuge de Bellachat to Chemin de Merlet Road (1:30 hours)

Chamonix Valley, Tour du Mont Blanc, France

From the refuge, follow signs to Merlet (1:15 hours) and Les Houches (2:30 hours). 

The TMB descends to the right of the hut and twists down the steep flank of the Aiguillette de Brévent.  

In some places, the trail is bolstered with timber reinforcements. The passage across the Ravin des Vouillourds ravine is secured with a chain. 

A balcony path leads in and out of pockets of forest. As you continue, more of the trail is protected with fixed metal handrails.

At the Merlet trail junction (1650 meters), take the right upper path in the direction of Parking de Merlet (30 minutes) and Statue du Christ-Roi (45 minutes). 

The path cuts across the forest and then follows the perimeter fence of Parc de Merlet. Drop down to the paved Merlet access road. 

Chemin de Merlet Road to Statue du Christ-Roi (20 minutes)

Les Houches, Chamonix Valley, France

Optional Viewpoint: When you get down to the paved road, detour to the viewpoint overlooking the valley. Head left in the direction of Parc de Merlet for a few meters and then climb up several stairs to reach the bench and viewpoint. 

Continue right along the Chemin de Merlet road and then turn left, following the wide track through the forest to Statue du Christ-Roi, a massive concrete statue.

Statue du Christ-Roi to Les Houches (30-40 minutes)

Continue hiking down the forest to the valley bed. You’ll emerge at a road, which leads to the Les Houches train station.

Cross the bridge over the Arve river and then follow the road leading uphill (over the main highway) into Les Houches. 

Use an offline navigation app, or Google Maps to navigate to your accommodation in Les Houches. 

Where to Stay in Les Houches

Where we stayed – Midrange | Hôtel du Bois is a centrally located chalet hotel in Les Houches. Stay here for the location, private rooms, wonderful breakfast buffet, and helpful staff. Contact the hotel in advance to make a dinner reservation. 

Budget | Chalet Hotel Les Campanules is a charming chalet with an on-site restaurant, located just off the trail, before getting down to the center of Les Houches. You can book double, triple or quadruple rooms with either a forest view or a Mont Blanc view. Guests have access to a cozy lounge and sauna area (extra charge). 

Budget | RockyPop Chamonix – Les Houches is an atmospheric and modern hotel with a food court and bar. Stay here for the fun, air-conditioned rooms and exceptional breakfast. 

Look for accommodation in Les Houches

Tour du Mont Blanc Essential Info

Read our Tour du Mont Blanc Hiking Guide to start planning your trek.

Quick Facts

TMB Planning Resources

Tour du Mont Blanc Route Itinerary

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a captivating multi-day hike that circuits the Mont Blanc massif in usually 10-11 days, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland. Here’s our personal TMB itinerary.

European Alps:

Multi-Day Hikes in Europe:

Hut to Hut Hiking:

Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails, Sabrina and Kati

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