Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc is a great way to save money and experience beautiful camping spots on your alps adventure. This ultimate guide will tell you everything you need to know about camping on this iconic trek from where to camp, tips on wild camping, and how to coordinate food and meals.
We went back and forth so many times on whether we should camp on the Tour du Mont Blanc or just go with the more popular option of staying at refuges. The refuges are, after all, what makes the TMB so unique.
In the end what made us decide to go with camping was two things:
- Each night we spent in a tent instead of a refuge saved us almost $200 in refuge expenses for the 3 of us.
- That $200 saved could be $200 spent on more yummy European food and drinks.
- What really sealed the deal was the prospect of epic campsites with a view from our tent.
We did in fact score amazing camping spots overlooking sharp, dramatic peaks and because of that, I encourage all experienced backpackers to take on the challenge of hauling a tent and creating your own itinerary.
Reasons to Camp on the TMB
If you’ve been putting off hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc because you “can’t afford a trip like that” think again. By bringing a tent, staying at campgrounds, and occasionally wild camping, your trip will be nearly half the cost.
Related: How Much Does it Cost to Hike the Tour du Mont Blanc (Coming Soon)
Unfortunately this is one of the most expensive backpacking trips in the world and if you aren’t hiking solo, it’s pretty insane what it costs to stay in a refuge.
That being said, you can turn this really expensive trip into a moderately budget friendly trip by camping.
Even if you stay at campgrounds every night (and don’t wild camp), the price is 10 Euros per person on average versus 60 Euros per person on average in refuges (that includes food though).
And if you’re on a really tight budget, cooking your own food while tent camping with your own backpacking stove will make this trip far more budget friendly.
Save Money, Eat More
Refuges are REALLY expensive and so one of the biggest things we liked about the prospect of tent camping was that we’d have more money to eat. Yeah sure we’ll sacrifice on the comforts of a cozy bed and a hot shower every night but if we’re coming to Europe, we want to eat like kings.
If that sounds like you, camping is probably a good choice.
Solitude and Stunning Scenery
This was the deciding factor for us. Yes we were on a tight budget and yes we wanted to eat a lot of good for but even more, we were going to be in the freaking ALPS! There are few places in the world that can compare to the beauty of this range and we wanted the full experience of being in it and surrounded by it.
The campsites aren’t all stunning, but the few nights that were, were over-the-top, mind numbing, and Instagram worthy beautiful.
The proof can be found in this related blog of 35 photos to inspire you to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Things to Consider Before Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc
Camping and Fastpacking Don’t Mix
I don’t regret camping the TMB at all, but I do however regret our ignorance of thinking we could fastback and camp the Tour at once.
Fastpacking refers to, you guessed it, backpacking the trail really fast. While the trail is normally completed in 9-11 days. Fastpacking the TMB refers to doing it in 7-9 days. Fastpacking could technically refer to both hiking the entirety of the trail (which would be practically impossible to do with a tent on your back) as well as bypassing some section with public transportation nevertheless, you’re physically hiking fast.
Well guess what? Carrying a tent is freaking heavy and if you’re attempting to take on 2 col crossings in a day with a tent on your back, you can bet on the fact that you won’t have the same spring in your step.
On a trail that gains 33,000 feet of elevation (that’s the same as climbing Everest) over the span of 105 miles, you really have to pick one or the other, tent or speed.
Besides lugging your tent over mountain passes, camping requires much more logistic planning (unless you’re areal fly by the seat of your pants type of person) and while there are a lot of places to get food and supplies on the TMB, there aren’t as many as some people make it seem and by fast packing, you really make it hard on yourself to time eating and hiking with setting up your tent before dark so you can actually enjoy the views you brought your tent for.
I’ll say it one last time and be done: If you are going to camp, take the time and do it in 10-11 days.
You MUST Plan Out Your Food
The single hardest part of camping was trying to get food. So most importantly: You must carry a camp stove and backpacking food.
In the planning phase, we read so many times about how easy it was to get food. This caused us to go about the planning phase thinking in terms of milage and places to camp, not in terms of we’ll eat dinner here then pitch our tent here.
For a trail that’s known for its easy access to luxurious eating opportunities, it’s really amazing that we managed to starve as much as we did. We didn’t actually starve but there were multiple nights we went to bed without proper dinner.
Here’s how to not starve on the Tour du Mont Blanc:
1 | Eat Dinner at Refuges
Option one kinda contradicts the benefit of saving money by camping. If you’re camping for the sake of the experience and have a larger budget, the best way to go about food is to just pay for dinner at each refuge.
The reason that we were hungry so often is because most refuges don’t just let you walk in and pay for what you order at dinnertime like you can at lunch. In fact, lunch on the Tour du Mont Blanc was wonderful most of the time because it was a great way to rest, the meals were fantastic, and we didn’t have to spend a fortune.
But with dinnertime, “You either partake in the entire meal, or have none of it?” (obscure movie reference) and unfortunately, our budget couldn’t accommodate this.
Dinner usually runs around 25-30 Euros per person and with this you get to enjoy an amazing 3-4 course meal. If you decide to go with this option though, you do need to be arriving at the refuge no later than 5:30pm. Dinner is served at 7pm (and sometimes earlier) and you have to be signed up for dinner ahead of time with the refuge managers. You can’t just show up at 7pm.
I highly recommend that you call or email the refuges ahead of time and ask to reserve a spot at dinner. You can just wing it, but make sure you have a back up meal in your pack since refuges aren’t close to cities.
In some ways this is the best of both worlds since you’ll get to experience the wondrous food and culture of refuges but at the same time, it’s arguably not worth the expense and you’re better off going with the 2nd option.
2 | Carry a Camp Stove + Backpacking Meals
So unless you want to go with option 1, it is essential that you pack a way to cook your own food and that you factor in time to resupply in cities.
Eating lunch at refuges and cooking your own dinners is a great way to get a taste of delicious European food whilst also saving money.
The important part of this is meal planning.
While I’m a huge proponent of living off of baguettes and butter while in Europe, a baguette isn’t the most packable meal. For a few nights, whenever we were coming out of a town where we could re-supply, we would grab a fresh baguette, sliced salami at the butcher, a bag of greens, french butter (yes, we hiked with French butter…it melted in the daytime but don’t worry, it re-froze at night), and chocolate croissants. It was the most amazing backpacking meal ever but it’s hard to fit into your backpack and it’s only 1 day’s worth of food.
If I were to do it again, I basically would’ve planned 1 day of good food, then 1-2 days of backpacking food. Something that won’t go bad between towns.
Carrying a camp stove is great for cooking traditional backpacking meals and honestly, I would carry a camp stove even if I was just using it to make my own coffee in the morning. It wasn’t often, but on a few days where we weren’t camped anywhere close to a refuge, I had to pry myself out of my sleeping bag without coffee…it was terrible.
I recommend these Kuju Coffee Pocket Pourover Packets because they’re super yummy and backpacker friendly.
Water is Easy to Find
On the subject of food, rest assured that water is very easy to find. Throughout the trail there are often actual water fountains where you can refill your bottles. Given that your’e camping, you should absolutely pack a water filter as a backup.
The only time we had to use ours was at Chalet du Glacier in Switzerland and at Lac Blanc in France, where the water is not drinkable without being filtered. Hence, why it is necessary to pack a water filter as a backup. If you don’t have a water filter, we love carrying HydroBlu’s Go Flow or Clear Flow systems.
Electrical Outlets are Hard to Come By
This factor really depends on the person. I’m a full believer in the value of completely detaching from phone and electronics for week but at the same time, I’m a photographer at heart and there was no way I was going to do one of the greatest mountain hikes in the world without my good ol’ Sony A6300.
In addition, I think it’s good to have your phone charged in case you need to make an emergency call, though a GPS/Spot device would work the same.
Point being, it’s up to you whether this even matters but by camping the Tour du Mont Blanc, electricity will be harder to come by. Most campgrounds do have some form of outlet but they’re not really charging stations (like outlets in the bathroom for example). So you either you need to commit to going off grid or pack proper battery devices like Jackery Portable power banks and the real life saver, our Biolite Solar Panel (see pack list below).
Related: What to Pack for Camping on the TMB
Wild Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc
Any seasoned backpacker knows the value of scoring a stunning spot in National Forest or on BLM land where you can pitch a tent, have the place all to yourself, and can take it all in for free.
Wild camping is a little different in Europe. It’s not like Mont Blanc Massif is just one big clump of public land where you can pitch tent as you please. Wild camping rules are different in all 3 countries.
France is the best for wild camping and overall they are pretty lax about where you pitch a tent. Usually, there are even designated free camping spots along the Tour du Mont Blanc marked with signs of “Aire de Bivouac.” Many, but not all, of these designated wild camping spots even have a water source and toilets.
When it comes to Italy and Switzerland, wild camping is pretty much illegal. Technically, the rule is that you may wild camp if you are over 2500 meters in elevation and you are setting up camp at sunset and packing up at sunrise. With the exception of Fenetre d’Arpette, there aren’t actually spots on the TMB that are above 2500 meters. I know some people try their luck on this if they’re pitching their tent at dusk but in general, don’t expect to find any wild camping in Italy.
In all 3 countries, you can pitch a tent on private land with the owner’s consent. For example, I know people often camp at Le Peute dairy farm in Switzerland and we wild camped on the property of Col de Balme with consent from the refuge owner.
I recommend staying in a hotel in Chamonix though before your hike so you can get a good nights sleep before starting this incredible adventure.
Tour du Mont Blanc Camping Spots
Camping Les Arroles
Price: 4.40 for tent, 7.10 per adults
Amenities: Toilets, free showers, charging station, picnic tables, dish washing stations
This campground was awesome because of the price and proximity to Chamonix center. Showers were super warm and I really liked the community feel of the campground.
When you camp here, and at most campgrounds in Chamonix Valley, you’ll be given a guest pass which gives you free access to the public transportation. Be sure to hold onto this for later to use at the end of the TMB.
Bonus: The campground has a luggage office. This is great if you’re doing the TMB as an add-on to a longer European trip and you have other luggage you don’t need on the trial.
Other campgrounds nearby:
- Camping de la Mer de Glace: 5 Minutes train ride North of Chamonix, free train pass included
- Camping Les Marmottes: 5 minute train ride south of Chamonix
- Camping des Deux Glaciers: 5 minute train ride south of Chamonix
Camping on Stage 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines
Distance: Kilometer 0, Les Houches
Price: 7.50 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, free showers, charging station
If for some reason you want to camp in Les Houches instead of Chamonix this is a fine option. There are grocery stores, bakeries, and restaurants nearby.
Campground: Camping Bellevue
Distance: Kilometer 0
Price: 7.50 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, free showers, charging station
Camping on Stage 2: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux
Camping Le Pontet
Distance: Kilometer 18
Price: 4.40 for tent, 5.50 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, free showers, dish washing station, laundry facilities, restaurant and small grocery store on site
While we did not stay here personally since it was too early our day, we did go right by it and it seemed like a really nice campground.
If you’re doing a classic stage 1 this a great first night. Note that the campground is 2 km further south from town. You have to get on a bus to get there. If you need food and supplies, get them before you go to the campground though there is a small restaurant and store there.
If 18 kilometers seems like a long day you, can cut out the first 2 km with the free shuttle in Les Contamines. It picks up every 30 minutes or so in front of the Office of Tourism in Contamines and drops you off right at the campground. The shuttle continues all the way to Notre Dame de la Gorge. You could even hop back on that shuttle in the morning to skip relatively boring road walking however, it only cuts off one kilometer.
The Tourism Office has charging outlets and is right across the street from a grocery store, bakery, and water fountain making it also a really good place to get stock up if you are going to continue on past Camping le Pontet.
Wild Camping near Nant Borrant
Distance: Kilometer 23
Amenities: Water supply, possibly toilets, close to Nant Borrant
Nant Borrant is a 1.5 hour walk from Les Contamines (shorter if you ride the free shuttle) and about 15 minutes past this refuge there is a designated wild camping area marked with a sign on the left hand side of the trail.
There is a water supply about 200 meters from the tent site at the trail junction. The sign said there were toilets but I didn’t see any (there is forest though). It’s pretty but not the most stunning campsite. Easy to get dinner at Nant Borrant before making camp.
Wild Camping at Refuge de la Balme
Distance: Kilometer 26
Amenities: Toilets, sinks, water supply, access to Chalet Refuge de la Balme
Twice we almost stopped at prior campsites just before this spot but we pushed on and I’m so glad we did. We ended up scoring one of the most beautiful campsites I had ever seen.
Even though the campsite felt super remote and isolated, you still had access to public toilets with sinks and a water fountain.
I’d recommend having your own food here or eat at Nant Borrant, although the food is not very good at this Refuge.
Free Camping in Les Chapieux
Distance: Kilometer 34
Amenities: Toilets, sinks, water supply, restaurants nearby
There is a free camping area at the Tourist Office in town. I’ve heard mixed things about camping here. Some say it’s beautiful and some say it’s too loud and busy but it’s really the only option in Les Chapieux for camping.
There are a few restaurants for dinner and a small shop for basic groceries and supplies.
Camping on Stage 3: Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta
Stage 3 is a very difficult place to find camping. Technically, the next designated camping spot isn’t until Val Veni which is 6 hours away. Getting to that campground requires taking the bad weather alternate route which is understandable in bad weather but trust me when I say the classic stage 4 route is one off the most beautiful sections of the entire TMB!
Wild camping near Refuge des Mottets
Distance: Kilometer 40-44
Refuge Des Mottets is very clear that they do not allow wild camping anywhere near the refuge.
The management did however tell us that you can camp up toward Col de la Seigne. They didn’t exactly say where and you probably don’t want to sleep on a totally exposed mountain pass so I’d say to look for a spot about 20 minutes from the refuge.
It’s not recommended to camp here in bad weather.
Wild camping at Rifugio Elisabetta
Distance: Kilometer 49
Amenities: Water supply
I’ve heard from a few people that there is a designated wild camping spot near Elisabetta but I did not see an obvious spot.
At this point in the day, we had combined stage 1 and 2 in one day so we were desperate for a comfy bed and decided to just pay for beds at Rifugio Elisabetta since they had availability.
I think if the refuge is fully booked, they would allowed you to set up your tent and wild camp nearby due to the fact that there are so few options for campers on stage 3.
When all else fails, see Val Veni below.
Camping on Stage 4. + 5: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
Again for stage 4 and 5, there are no designated campgrounds on the main TMB. Your options are similar to stage 3: wild camp if you’re desperate and discreet, opt for a refuge for one night, or bypass part of stage 4/5 to make it to the next designated campground (not recommended as this is one of the best parts of the tour).
Also, be sure that you stock up on food and supplies Courmayeur. The next grocery store isn’t until La Fouly, Switzerland.
Val Veni Campgrounds
Distance: Kilometer 53 (Alt Route)
Price: 5.00 for tent, 7.50 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, showers, laundry, bar/restaurants, small food shop
When all else fails on stage 3, the nearest campground, Aiguille-Noire and Camping La Sorgente, can be found an hour from Elisabetta on the bad weather alternate route. If necessary, you can hop on a bus starting in La Visialle, 40 minutes from Elisabetta.
The campgrounds here are great but it’s a long day of hiking for most and you’ll be missing the beauty of the classic stage 4.
Vel Ferret Campgrounds
Distance: Kilometer 67, 15 minute bus ride from Courmayeur
Price: 4.50 for tent, 7.50 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, hot showers, laundry, dishwashing station, small food shop
While there are no campgrounds in Courmayeur, there are many campgrounds in Val Ferret. We stayed at Camping Grandes Jorasses and loved it. There is Camping Tronchey just 2 bus stops further.
Set in the forest and beneath another large glacier, this was a perfect campground for us for the night. Hot showers were €0.50 per 2 minutes and the showers were as expected at most campgrounds, basic but clean enough.
The Val Ferret campgrounds are a 15 minute bus ride from Courmayeur. Bus tickets cost €2 and can be purchased from the tour office and they’ll tell you which bus to get on.
If you stay here, be sure to come prepared with food to any of these campgrounds. In fact, don’t leave Courmayeur without stocking up with enough food for a few days. There won’t be any grocery stores until you reach La Fouly and since it’s in Switzerland, everything will be significantly more expensive than if you buy it in Courmayeur. There’s also an ATM in town if you need cash for refuges.
Note that Courmayeur has siesta from noon to 3pm-ish and you won’t be able to re-supply at this time but trust me, you’ll be happy to head into stage 6 with enough food to last a few days.
From the campgrounds in the Val Ferret, you can easily rejoin the main TMB route right across the street from Notre Dame de Guerison. From Camping Grandes Jorasses, you just walk down the main road 5 minutes and you’ll see the obvious trail signs and a bridge.
Wild camping before Bonatti
Distance: Kilometer 77
Like all wild camping in Italy, I’d only recommend this as a place to pitch your tent near sunset and be out by sunrise.
About an hour before you reach Rifugio Bonatti, there are many flat places where you could pitch a tent for the night and you’ll even have an amazing view of the Grandes Jorasses, Mont Blanc, and Val Ferret + Val Veni.
The area right around the ruins perhaps 30 minutes before Bonatti is probably the most ideal spot, terrain wise.
Note: It is technically illegal to wild camp here. Use your own discretion when deciding to camp here.
Camping on Stage 6 + 7: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly
Wild Camping on Grand Col Ferret
Distance: Kilometer 90
Remember, Switzerland does not allow wild camping unless you’re above 2500 meters. Technically, Grand Col Ferret is at 2537 meters which means you could in theory camp at the summit.
Though it wouldn’t be at 2500 meters, as you descend into the Switzerland side of the Col there are many places where you could probably pitch a tent. This is only a good last resort option, not a good place to spend the evening.
Note, it is technically illegal to camp here. Use your own discretion to decide on camping here.
Camping Des Glaciers
Distance: Kilometer 100, 6 hours from Bonatti
Price: 8.00 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, hot showers, dishwashing station, common area, free wifi, small food shop
We didn’t stay here but we walked right past this campsite. This campground sits right on the TMB just after passing through town. It has all the facilities.
Camping Les Rocailles
Distance: Kilometer 115, 4.5 hours from La Fouly
Price: 16.00 for tent, 8.00 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, hot showers, dishwashing station, picnic area
After La Fouly, the next campground isn’t until Champex. The campground is on the far end of town but it’s not far if you want to walk back into town in the morning for groceries or pastries. The campground is really expensive but there’s not much of an option unless you’re willing to take a chance with wild camping on alt stage 8 (see below).
The town of Champex is really nice and I do wish we had spent more time here regardless of the camping expense.
In Champex there’s a store to resupply if necessary. There is also a great deal at the bakery nearby where you can get a breakfast buffet of bread, cheese, salami, jam, and a few pastries for 12 francs which is a pretty good for Switzerland.
Camping on Stage 8 + 9: Champex to Tre le Champ
Distance: Kilometer 117 via alt stage 8, 45 min from Champex
Price: 13.50 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, hot showers, water, picnic area, access to restaurant/bakery and to-go lunch
If you plan on taking alternative stage 8, you can opt to push on another 45 minutes to stay here.
It’s still expensive but it’s a little bit more scenic, quaint, and has really nice camping facilities including hot showers. This refuge has a restaurant and bakery and you can also request to pay for a to-go lunch to the next day.
Wild Camping at Fenetre d’Arpette
Distance: Kilometer 120 via alt stage 8, 1.5 hours from Champex
Amenities: None, 4 hours from the next food and water source (requires filtration)
Remember that while you are in Switzerland, you are allowed to camp above 2500 meters. Fenetre d’Arpette is actually the highest point on the TMB and does in fact lie above 2500 meters but I’m not going to recommend for you to sleep at the summit. Besides the fact that a pass is way too exposed for tent camping, there literally is nowhere you could set up a tent. Instead, I recommend to wild camp in the grassy meadows just above the treeline but before you get to the rocky boulder field.
Please note that while this is a perfectly suitable place to wild camp and no one probably cares as long as you leave no trace, you are not technically above 2500 meters and would breaking the law so camp here at your own discretion.
There are no amenities and there is no access to water here. The next water source isn’t until you reach the river at Chalet du Glacier and drinking the water there requires water filtration due to farming runoff.
Hotel Col de La Forclaz
Distance: Kilometer 131 (via main route), 5-6 hours from Champex (depending on route)
Price: 6.00 for tent, 8.00 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, showers, water, picnic area, restaurant/bakery
This hotel has camping out in it’s grassy meadows. The guidebook gives the impression that Col de la Forclaz is an actually village when it reality it’s pretty much just a col.
The hotel has facilities but eating at the hotel is very pricey as are the few small stores nearby that have food. The hotel has breakfast for 16 francs and half board for 43 francs (I believe this is in addition to the initial cost of tent and persons).
The camping is scenic though. Come with your own food and cooking supplies and you’re set.
Distance: Kilometer 133 (via main route), 7-8 hours from Champex (depending on route)
Price: 6.00 per person
Amenities: Toilets, water, picnic area with shelter
If you’re taking classic stage 9, you can camp at Le Peuty, 45 minutes past Forclaz. It’s not actually at Refuge Le Peuty but it’s very close. Similar to French free camping areas, it’s a very basic camping spot with water and toilets but not much else.
Refuge Les Grands
Distance: Kilometer 134 (via alt stage 8 + 9), 5-6 hours from Champex (via alt 8) or 2 hours from Forclaz
Amenities: Toilet, water supply
This self catering refuge is only manned occasionally and more often than not, access to the inside isn’t available.
When we happened to by passing by it was being operated by members of the local mountain club of sorts. They told us that you’re totally welcome to pitch a tent but there really isn’t much room for more than a single, small tent making this really more of a backup camping spot than a planned place to stay.
There is water available here as well as a toilet (with an amazing view btw). When it is open, you can use the refuge kitchen for a small fee.
Refuge du Col de Balme
Distance: Kilometer 137 (via main TMB), 3 hours from Col de la Forclaz (via main TMB) 3 hours from Chalet du Glacier (via alt stage 9)
Amenities: Toilet, access to refuge
Not to be confused with Refuge de la Balme at the start, this refuge is located at the border between Switzerland and France and turned out to be our most spectacular night on the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Upon arrival we asked the owner if we could camp on the property and he said normally no because it’s too windy on the col but it was abnormally clear that day so he allowed us to.
It was the most stunning camping spot we experienced on the whole Tour Du Mont Blanc, even more stunning than Refuge de la Balme. From the col, you have a perfect view of Chamonix Valley below and beautiful Mont Blanc, plus, it’s especially beautiful to see this view at sunrise and sunset.
While there are no facilities specifically for tent campers here, the owner of the refuge was super nice and if you’re allowed to camp at the refuge, more than likely they will allow you to use the restrooms, get coffee there in the morning, and of course you can pay to be apart of dinner if you arrive early enough in the day.
Wild camping at Col de Posettes
Distance: Kilometer 139, 30 min from Col de Balme
On the occasion that it’s very windy on the Col de Balme, if you look down to Chamonix Valley and to the right, you’ll see the main TMB trail and a lower col, Col de Posettes.
This is another good spot to wild camp however there are no facilities nor are you anywhere close to facilities. The nearest food and water are in Tre-le-Champ about 2 hours further down the trail.
A Quick Note on France Camping
Now that you’ve entered France, again, wild camping is once again more lax. I will mention a few spots I’m pretty certain you can wild camp at however there is a big gray area I haven’t mentioned.
The only places I know that you definitely cannot wild camp on this section of France are at Aiguillette des Posettes and at Lac Blanc itself.
Prior to the summit of Aiguillette des Posettes, such as at Col de Posettes mentioned earlier, you can wild camp but once you reach the summit and descend from the summit, there are signs that specifically say no camping.
Auberge la Boerne
Distance: Kilometer 144, 3 hours from Col de Balme
Price: 8.00 (unclear whether this is per person or per tent) or 35.00 per person for half board camping (camping, dinner, and breakfast)
Amenities: Toilets, water, showers (possibly additional cost), wifi, access to all meals served at the refuge, small groceries
By the time we stumbled into Tre-le-Champ on our 7th and finally day on the tour, we were all out of food and were starving. In a way it was good though because otherwise, we never would’ve known about this incredible restaurant/refuge/camping spot.
I know I’ve said multiple times that the food is delicious at all the refuges but trust me when I say, Auberge la Boerne has the best food on the whole Tour. Here you can get real, traditional food and specialty cuisine of the French Alps.
Besides the food, I loved the outdoor patio that we dined at within a small courtyard. The courtyard is surrounded by about a dozen building with a small meadow in the center. I loved how the refuge and restaurant had a friendly staff, a tight knit community of locals, and how it’s major hub for all TMB hikers passing. We ran into multiple hikers we had met earlier on in the trek.
So back to camping, I later found out that this amazing restaurant allows camping in the beautiful meadow for a small fee. If you camp here you have the option to pay for dinner (17 per person), breakfast the next morning (10 per person), and to-go lunch (10 per person). There is a water fountain just outside the courtyard and they allow you to use the toilets. I’m not sure because we didn’t stay here personally, but they may even allow you to use the showers.
Camping du Glacier d’Argentiere
Distance: Detour from Kilometer 144, 40 minutes from Tre-le-Champ
Price: 4.00 for tent, 5.90 per adult
Amenities: Toilets, water, hot showers, laundry facilities, charging station, bar, restaurant, morning bread, short walk to more shops and stores of Argentiere
Going to camp in Argentiere is the more popular option for many TMB campers mostly because it’s a full-amenity campground and if you need to re-supply before stage 10 and 11, Argentiere is the only place with a full scale grocery store.
Going to Argentiere requires taking a 30-40 minute detour by foot.
Note: Hang onto that unlimited train/bus pass you may have received for free in Chamonix Valley campgrounds. You can cut 10 minutes out of this detour by getting on the train.
Camping du Glacier is known as a very popular mountaineering take-off point so it can be a cool vibe at this campground.
Camping on Stage 10 + 11
Wild camping near Lac Blanc
Distance: Kilometer 149, 3 hours from Tre-le-Champ
Amenities: Water from lake (requires filtration), 15 minutes from Lac Blanc Refuge
We had initially planned on camping at Lac Blanc after reading that you could online. I’m guessing that between 2017 and summer of 2019 you could since the refuge was not operational and not under any ownership. The refuge was bought back again in summer of 2019 so when we arrived in September of 2019, we were surprised to find that you couldn’t camp there after talking to the refuge managers.
While you cannot camp at Lac Blanc or anywhere within sight of the Lac Blanc refuge, you can camp at Lacs de Chéserys which is just 15 minutes before you get to Lac Blanc. This cluster of lakes is almost equally as spectacular as Lac Blanc.
Wild camping near La Flégère
Distance: Kilometer 150, 3 hours from Tre-le-Champ
Amenities: Water from lake or stream (requires filtration), probably water and toilets at La Flégère
Whether you’re on the main TMB or the trail from Lac Blanc, the grassy slopes before La Flégère make for dozens of easy and super scenic places to pitch a tent for the night.
There are some spots that are rocky and some that are grassy so it will take a little bit of looking to find a great spot. From most spots, you’ll have an amazing view of Grandes Jorasses and/or Mont Blanc.
Again, this is more traditional wild camping and there are no amenities. There is the water source of lakes and streams but I recommend a filter.
Wild camping near Le Brevent
Distance: Kilometer 161, 3.5 hours from La Flégère
Amenities: Water from lake (requires filtration), access to food at Le Brevent or Refuge de Bellechat, each about an hour away
Last but not least, if you want one last night on the trail, it is possible to camp in the area between Le Brevent and Refuge de Bellechat.
Note that I doubt you are allowed to camp within the boundary of Le Brevent ski resort but there is no sign dictating where that boundary starts and ends. To be on the safe side, I’d recommend wild camping at least 30 minutes after Le Bravent. In addition, camping is not allowed at Refuge de Bellcahat and as the rule usually goes, you can’t be within sight of the refuge.
There are no amenities nor are you close to amenities here so come prepared if you are going to try and wild camp here.
I really hope this helped you with any doubts, concerns, and questions you had about camping on the TMB! If you loved the blog and found it helpful, we’d love if you pinned it to one of your Pinterest boards, shared it on social media, or purchase your supplies through our TMB Pack List links because we think Karma is rad 🤙
One more thing if you choose to camp, check out where we stayed in Chamonix after the TMB. It was a perfect way to end an epic trip!
If I left anything unanswered or if you have a specific question, let us know in the comments section below.
Related TMB Resources:
- Ultimate Planning Guide to the TMB
- Tour du Mont Blanc Pack List
- How to Hike the TMB in 7 Days: Fastpacking Guide
- 35 Photos to Inspire You to Hike the TMB
- Where to Stay In Chamonix for the Tour du Mont Blanc
- Travel Insurance for the TMB
Monday 6th of February 2023
Thank you so much for the excellent overview! Two questions. Did you need to secure any permit for camping? Also were the campsites reserved, or first come-first serve?
Friday 10th of February 2023
No permits and it was all first come first serve. But that was a few years ago and i don't know if that changed with covid rules
Sunday 15th of January 2023
hey, did you have to pre book any campsites?
Tuesday 17th of January 2023
No, all the campsites are just large fields so there aren't specific sites or a lack of space.
Wednesday 24th of August 2022
When in September was this? beginning or end ? I am thinking at starting TMB in 18 September.
Wednesday 24th of August 2022
It was the first week of Sept
Friday 28th of January 2022
Where can I purchase a map online?
Thursday 3rd of February 2022
I'm not sure that you can get the exact topographical map that we used but Amazon has a similar one https://amzn.to/3AWHWy3