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Day 2 on the Tour du Mont Blanc: Les Contamines-Les Chapieux

In hindsight I think Day 2 ranks as one of the hardest days on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Partly it’s because you’re still getting used to long days of physical effort – which let’s face it, are hard to train for in a gym. (Case in point – My daughter ran into a friend from her Everest trek – who by the third day out had lost 8 toenails because of the steep descents.)

"Heading up beyond the Refuge Nant Borrant"

Heading up beyond the Refuge Nant Borrant

Les Contamines-Les Chapieux

The morning starts out gently from Les Contamines but once past the gorge the grade increases and stays constant until you reach the Col du Bonhomme. There are a couple of refugios on the way to the Col du Bonhomme – and they both provide good views and coffee if you need an excuse to stop.

"Hiking past cow pastures - with the tinkle of cowbells as an accompaniment"

Hiking past cow pastures – with the tinkle of cowbells as an accompaniment

"A view looking down the valley back towards Les Contamines"

A view looking down the valley back towards Les Contamines

"Joe Pye Weed looking wildflowers that we saw in abundance"

Joe Pye Weed looking wildflowers that we saw in abundance

Wildflowers showed up in abundance the higher you climbed. Campanula, alpine ladies mantle, Joe pye weed looking flowers and a host of ones whose names I didn’t know made the walking even more beautiful.

"Near the Col du Bonhomme"

Near the Col du Bonhomme

The Col du Bonhomme  was reached after about 3½ hours of walking. It was another hour to reach the Col de la Croix – the highest point of the day.

"Looking down at the Col du Bonhomme"

Looking down at the Col du Bonhomme

"Scenery between the Col du Bonhomme and the Col de la Croix"

Scenery between the Col du Bonhomme and the Col de la Croix

"Refugio du Bonhomme"

Refugio du Bonhomme

The Refugio du Bonhomme was a hopping spot with lunchtime and overnight visitors in abundance. Meals are available as are drinks including beer and wine. We hadn’t brought much in the way of snacks so after close to 5 hours of hiking we were starved. Spaghetti carbonara was our lunch of choice – especially knowing we still had several more hours of steep hiking ahead of us to reach Les Chapieux.

"The steep descent to Les Chapieux"

The steep descent to Les Chapieux

The descent is steep and careful attention to your footing is important. I think it’s much harder going down than up.

The path ends right in front of the Auberge de la Nova – the only accommodation choice unless you plan to camp.

Useful information for Day 2 on the Tour du Mont Blanc

  • Total distance is 18 kilometres (11 miles)
  • Height gain – 1316 metres (4318 feet)
  • Height loss – 929 metres (3048 feet)
  • Time needed – 7 to 8 hours
  • Refreshments available at Refugio Nant Borrant, Refugio de la Balme, Refugio de la Croix and at Auberge de la Nova
  • Auberge de la Nova has 35 dormitory spaces and 35 beds. Rooms are basic and bathroom/shower facilities are shared. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price of 46 Euros per person for a private room.
Other posts related to the Tour du Mont Blanc:

Leigh McAdam


Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure – & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project – a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Amazing hike — gorgeous views! The Refugio du Bonhomme sounds like it was the right place at the right time. Great pics, Leigh.

  • Sandy Clinton says:

    Wait…I’m confused…are you there now?

    Fantastic landscapes, dramatic views, energetic hiking! A real treat for the eyes and body!

    I’d love to do this kind of travel with you – though I’d like to keep my toenails, please!

  • Dave Walker says:

    Great to read your experience with walking the Mont Blanc Tour. For me also when hiking going down is always much harder than going up. You’d think it’s the other way around, but it’s not.

    The pictures look great, so I’m sure it’s all worth it :-)

    Thank you,


    By the way: we have a couple of tours on our website too in the French/Swiss Alps. See our Switzerland / France pages.

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