The route shown here starts by taking the Le Brévent Cable Car from Chamonix. This ensures some of the most spectactular views of Mont Blanc (weather-dependent, of course) on the first and last days of the tour.
From Le Brévent, head downhill toward Les Houches (optional starting point, and reachable from Chamonix via train or bus). Walk through Les Houches, turning up toward the Col de Voza shortly after passing the Bellevue Cable Car. From the Col, descend through Bionnassay and Le Champel, making your way to a pleasant water-side walk through Les Contamines-Montjoie.
Continue southward through the valley, eventually climbing toward Col du Bonhomme, passing Refuge de Nant Borrant and Refuge de Balme along the way. Descend from the Col, passing Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme and then continue descending toward Les Chapieux. Note: the TMB alternate routing over Col des Four, departs shortly after the Col du Bonhomme.
From Les Chapiuex, start the long and sustained climb toward Italy, passing Ville des Glaciers and Refuge des Mottets before arriving at Col de la Seigne. Enjoy the views here before descending into Italy past Rifugio Elisabetta and Rifugio Combal. From Rifugio Combal, the route goes uphill once more, bringing you into the ski area on the south slopes of Courmayeur. Descend to Courmayeur and head for the Tourist Information Office.
The TMB signs can be difficult through Courmayeur, so pay close attention as you begin to make your way uphill through the town. Eventually leave civilization behind, and begin a steep climb to Rifugio Bertone. From here enjoy a somewhat level traverse toward Rifugio Walter Bonatti before descending to Hotel Chalet Val Ferret. Shortly after arriving at the valley floor, the climbing begins again toward Grand Col Ferret, passing Rifugio Elena along the way.
At the Grand Col Ferret you cross into Switzerland. Descend the valley, surrounded by endless green hillsides, passing Gite Alpage de la Peule, before coming to civilization and eventually arriving in the charming village of La Fouly. Continue through the valley. The route up to Champex leaves the valley floor just after the community of Issert.
From Champex, the standard route remains level, but eventually becomes steep as it climbs up to Bovine, and then drops on the other side into Trient. It is also possible to take an alternate route over the Fenetre d'Arpette, meeting the standard route in Trient. From Trient, the route climbs toward France, and crosses the border at the Col de Balme. There are multiple ways to descend from the Col, and the route has been changed over time, so signage and indications on your map might be confusing.
At Tré le Champ, the route begins to climb again toward the spectacular views seen on the first day. The section between Tré le Champ and the turnoff for Lac Blanc is the famous ladder section, and is not for those who have a fear of heights or issues with exposure. It is possible to bypass this section either by taking the trail from Col des Montets (this route was closed due to rockfall in August 2018) or by descending into the valley and walking through Argentière (you will miss some of the best views on the tour if you take the second option).
After conquering the ladders, enjoy the views as you make your way to Refuge de La Flégère. From here you can either take the cable car down to Chamonix, or to close the circuit by completing the last couple hours to the top of the Le Brévent Cable Car.