This is a blog in the sequence of walks as day hikes on the stages of the tour of Mont Blanc. The Cicerone book recommends starting the hike in the main village and walking alongside the road and paths past the campground of Le Pontet until Notre Dame de la Gorge where the ascent really starts. Owing to limited parking in the village I opted for parking at a large car park at Notre Dame de la Gorge (1210m), which has a public toilet and supply of drinking water and a small bridge nearby to cross the torrent.
The walk passes nearby to the church, and signs clearly mark out the TMB route to Col du Bonhomme. The TMB rises steeply on an old Roman path, past a scenic rock arch and over a Roman bridge to the first cafe restaurant on the walk called Alpinus Lodge about 45 minutes from Notre Dame de la Gorge. This is a pleasant place to stop with recliners and tables with parasols and a varied selection of food and drinks.
A few hundred meters further up the trail is the Refuge Nant Borrant which provides accommodation and alternative refreshments and food. The trail then flattens out into a wide valley with magnificent views of the Aiguille de la Pennaz.
As the trail starts to climb again and just before the Refuge de la Balme is a toilet block and a drinking water supply. From the Refuge de la Balme (1706m) to Col du Bonhomme (2329m) there is no let up on the ascent. In July large patches of snow could still be seen to the left of the trail which zig-zags up the mountain.
This is the highest peak climbed so far on the walks, and maybe it was because it was cooler than my stage 1 walk (24 C on the return to Les Contamines in late afternoon) but I found it easier than the climb to the Col de Tricot.
At the Col du Bonhomme is a warming hut and a map showing the Massif du Mont Blanc peaks of which Mont Blanc was just visible popping out of the clouds and good views of the Dome de Miage.
The descent back to Nore Dame de la Gorge was tricky down to the Refuge de la Balme so walking poles are essential to assist in stability.
I enjoyed a refreshing cold beer, resting in one of the recliners at the Alpinus lodge on the return. Such a treat.
I returned to Les Contamines 7.5 hours after the start, so ideal for a day hike, the maps show a total distance of 15.2 km. To complete stage 2 of the TMB requires a hike from Les Chapieux to Col Du Bonhomme. One for another day.