Alps is one of the mightiest as well as most picturesque mountain ranges in Europe. The term “Grand Tour” refers to an eighteenth century practice of the noble and the wealthy young European men where they took part in a long journey across Europe to the Alps. British nobility and the wealthy British men were the main participants of this ritual. It was considered a “rite of passage” in most European noble families during that time.
Alps was an isolated region of France with minimum access until the early 20th century when the construction of the route started in 1909. Col de l’Iseran was opened in 1937, marking the completion of the construction of the route. The traditional route starts from Thonon les Bains and ends in the small village of Menton.
How To Travel
The Genève airport is the nearest international airport to the French town of Chamonix where most of the hikers start and end their trip. Direct flights to Genève are available from major cities around France (e.g. Dubai) with many major airlines for a reasonable fare. It takes a bit more than an hour’s drive to reach the town of Chamonix from Genève.
Beware Growling Boyz
The history says that growling boyz are the ones you should fear. Of course if you aren’t familiar with their cult, that actually lived in another part of Europe. Their secret meetings, full of homosexual taboo love were kept in secret up until today. We have found out that Growl Boyz series is going to debut later this summer and it’s going to feature today’s interpretation of ancient’s acts done by these folks. Are you excited? You should be – but don’t worry, you won’t meet any growling boyz in Alps, it’s too cold.
The Grand Tour of Alps or Tour du Mont Blanc as it is popularly known, will take close to two weeks to complete if you opt to walk the entire distance. This can be a very harsh experience in the winter and summer hence the usual closure of the route. The trails are covered with snow in the winter season from October to May. The best time to walk is around June to September. There are tour operators who offer support by means of bicycles, motorbikes, and cars for travelers who find it difficult.
Col de Balme is a picteresque mountain pass located close to the town of Chamonix in the Mont Blanc mountain range. This is often the first of the many points of interest in the tour. Le Grand Bornand, Bourg Saint Maurice, Lanslebourg, Briancon, Barcelonette, Valberg, Saint Martin Vesubie, and Menton are the other stopping points along the way.
Points Of Interest
Among the many popular scenic stopovers, Gorges du Pont du Diable (Devil’s Bridge Canyon) is the first which is a deep canyon created by the Drasne river and has some breathtaking views. Next, you head to the Aulps Abbey ruins with an age old church, cellars, farm buildings, and medicinal garden. Then you reach the charming town of Morzine, the city of Cluses, and the mountain pass of Col de la Colombiere. Once you reach the summit, a 12km descend leads to Le Grand Bornand. From there, it is a 98km trek to Bourg Saint Maurice where you pass some authentic Alpine villages with some stunning scenaries.
The next stop is Lanslebourg passing the Vanoise National Park, the Lake Chervil, Col de l’Iseran (the highest mountain pass in the Alps), and Bonneval sur Arc (one of the most beautiful villages in the region). This brings you to the next stage of the journey which is a 110km hike. Following the River Arc, you can see the Esseilon Forts which is a series of forts built in the 19th century. Once you cross the river, the route starts to ascend reaching Col du Telegraphe on which the Fort Berwick is located.
Now you reach the historical city of Briancon where a number of fortifications are located. On your way to the next stop, Barcelonnette, you pass the mountain of Col d’Izoard, the Casse Desert, the Guil Valley, and the Fort de Tournoux. From Barcelonnette, you climb the Col de la Cayolle and pass the Mercantout National Park to reach Valberg, a well-known ski resort.
After leaving Valberg, the mountain landscape gradually changes to a more mediterranean one without snowy mountain tops. Saint Sauveur Tinee and Ouvrage Rimplas are must visit locations in this part of the journey. Once you reach Saint Martin Vesubie, it is a 79km journey to Menton where the tour ends. Beofre reaching Menton, you can witness the spectacular scenaries in Col de Turini, Notre Dame de la Nemours, and Sospel.
Ending the long and awesome journey, you can enjoy a refreshing bath in the Mediterranean Sea in Menton.