There are two ways to hike stage 8 of the Tour du Mont Blanc from Champex-Lac to Trient: the main TMB route via Alp Bovine and the TMB variant via Fenêtre d’Arpette (2665 m) mountain pass. The variant is the more interesting route, but it’s far more difficult.
If the weather isn’t stable, it’s recommended to hike the traditional Bovine route.
We hiked the Fenêtre d’Arpette variant, which was the most “high-alpine” stage of all the TMB stages. It tackles rugged, steep terrain and requires some scrambling. It’s a beautiful route, but long and taxing.
The day ends in the Swiss alpine village of Trient.
Tour du Mont Blanc Stage 8 Hiking Guide: Fenêtre d’Arpette Variant Route
- Starting Point: Champex-Lac, Switzerland
- Ending Point: Trient, Switzerland
- Distance: 15 km
- Time Needed: 6 hours
- Elevation Gain: 1199 meters
- Elevation Loss: 1382 meters
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Minimum Elevation: 1275 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2665 meters
- Where to Stay in Trient: La Grande Ourse, The Auberge du Mont Blanc
- Self-Guided Hiking Tour: 10 Day Standard Tour du Mont Blanc (what we booked) / 10 Day Comfort Tour du Mont Blanc (private rooms only)
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Fenêtre d’Arpette Trail Map
Fenêtre d’Arpette Trail Description
Champex-Lac to Relais d’Arpette (45 minutes)
Follow the main road, “Route du Lac,” out of town and then turn left on “Route des Valettes.”
Soon the TMB swings right, leaving the road (there’s a sign).
Shortly after passing beneath the chairlift line, bear right and follow the narrow footpath along the rushing stream. This path is called Sentier du Bisse. It steadily climbs up steps and staircases through a verdant pocket of tamed wilderness.
It’s a very pretty trail that looks like the sort of place fairies and elves would inhabit.
The Sentier du Bisse brings you to Relais d’Arpette refuge.
Relais d’Arpette to Fenêtre d’Arpette (2:30 hours)
Follow the gravel road up the Val d’Arpette valley. Just beyond a few chalets, the TMB leads across a wide-open meadow to a line of trees.
The valley ascent continues through a belt of forest and then climbs up the right flank of the valley.
After hiking up a boulder-punctuated slope, the trail levels out for a bit.
When the trail splits, take the right path, following the rock sign to Fenêtre d’Arpette. The TMB clings to the right flank (north flank) of this upper valley.
After an easy undulating stretch, the trail gets increasingly rugged.
The ascent continues across a boulder field. It’s best to put your hiking poles away in order to better scramble up the boulders.
White-red-white waymarks guide you across the rocky landscape.
After negotiating the boulders, you’ll arrive at the foot of the final slope beneath the pass.
This last leg to Fenêtre d’Arpette (2665 m) is extremely steep, but boulder-free.
Fenêtre d’Arpette (“Arpette Window”) reveals a whole new skyline of peaks and the Vallée du Trient valley, carved out by the Trient Glacier.
Though it makes sense to rest here, it can be cold and windy. We carried on almost immediately and took a break further down on the other side.
Fenêtre d’Arpette to Chalet du Glacier (2 hours)
The initial descent is steep and tricky. Caution is needed as you scramble down a slope of rocks/boulders.
The Trient Glacier is the focal point of the hike down.
The descent continues along tight serpentines and then leads to the right-hand lateral moraine of the Trient Glacier.
After 15 minutes, you’ll arrive at a shelter ruin, which is a convenient place for a break.
Follow the dirt path down. Timber reinforcements bolster the path in places.
After a short ascent, a secured path (ropes) leads to stairs and then into the embrace of the forest.
The trail descends further to the river and follows it to Chalet du Glacier (1583 m). Take a break here and savor a well-deserved apricot, or strawberry gelato. They accept EUR and Swiss Francs.
Chalet du Glacier to Trient (1 hour)
If you’re heading to Trient, you can either take the Bisse du Trient path (1 hour) or the route via Le Peuty (50 minutes).
We took the Bisse du Trient path (direction: Col de la Forclaz and Trient). Follow this enjoyable trail for 2 km and then turn left and hike down the forested slope. This path was very muddy and steep.
After crossing the Forclaz road on a pedestrian bridge, follow the wide track to Trient.
Stay in Trient
Hotel La Grand Ourse is a well-managed, clean, and hospitable accommodation with private and shared rooms. Toilets and showers are communal. We enjoyed our stay here very much, especially our private room and the hotel bar, adjacent to the main building. The check-in was straightforward and efficient. All guests receive half board (breakfast and dinner). You can order a lunch packet as well.
More accommodations in Trient: The Auberge du Mont Blanc (budget)
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Tour du Mont Blanc Essential Info
Read our Tour du Mont Blanc Hiking Guide to start planning your trek.
- Official TMB Length: 170 km (105 miles)
- Days Needed: 10-11 days
- Which Direction to Hike: Counterclockwise
- Where to Start the TMB: Chamonix, Vallée de l’Arve, France
- Closest Airport to Chamonix: Geneva Airport, Switzerland
- When to Hike the TMB: July – early September
- When to Book the TMB: January – February
- TMB Difficulty: Moderate
- Recommended Self-Guided Tours: 10 Day Standard Tour du Mont Blanc (private and shared rooms), 10 Day Comfort Tour du Mont Blanc (private rooms only), 7 Day Tour du Mont Blanc (shortened route with transit shortcuts), 15 Day Tour du Mont Blanc (leisurely-paced route).
TMB Planning Resources
- TMB Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone: Trekking the Tour of Mont Blanc guidebook
- TMB Trail Maps: L’Escursionista Tour du Mont Blanc TMB or IGN Tour du Mont Blanc Map
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.
- Stage 1: Chamonix – Le Brévent – Les Houches
- Stage 2: Les Houches – Les Contamines-Montjoie (Col de Tricot Variant)
- Stage 3: Les Contamines – Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme
- Stage 4: Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme – Cabane du Combal (Col des Fours Variant)
- Stage 5: Cabane du Combal – Courmayeur – Rifugio Bertone
- Stage 6: Rifugio Bertone – Grand Col Ferret – Alpage de La Peule
- Stage 7: Alpage de La Peule – Ferret – La Fouly – Champex-Lac
- Stage 8: Champex-Lac – Trient (Fenêtre d’Arpette Variant)
- Stage 9: Trient – Col de Balme – Aiguillette des Posettes – Tré le Champ
- Stage 10: Tré le Champ – Lac Blanc – La Flégère – Chamonix
More Guides about Hiking in Europe
- The Alps in Summer: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting
- Hiking in the European Alps
- Italian Alps Hiking Destinations
- Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations
- Slovenia Alps Hiking Guide
Multi-Day Hikes in Europe:
Hut to Hut Hiking: