As a later life challenge I decided to do the Tour of Mont Blanc (TMB) in stages, generally splitting each stage of the hike into two separate walks, so I can return to the car without having to find public transport or stay overnight in mountain accommodation.
For stage 1 from Les Houches (altitude 1007 m) to Les Contamines I planned to walk from the Les Houches tourist office, located in the centre of Les Houches with plenty of parking space available. As a guide I used the popular Cicerone book by Kev Reynolds. The signposts are excellent with the green TMB logo and GR5 detailed throughout the walk as photographed at various stages throughout the walk. The planned walk was the variant to Col de Tricot at 2120 (via Col de Voza) and back to Les Houches. (NB: the usual stage 1 walk to Les Contamines is via Bionnassay and La Champel with Col de Tricot route classed as a variant)
The climb starts near Le Grand Balcon where you have to ascend a series of wooden steps for a few hundred metres prior to the track commencing. The route to Col de Voza is well signposted and would be difficult to go wrong. At Col de Voza (1653m) is one of the stops on the Tramway du Mont Blanc cog railway that runs from La Fayet to Nid d’Aigle at 2380m. The village de vacances APAS hotel at Col de Voza was having a large extension built on the side making more rooms available. From the Tourist office to Col de Voza was about 2 hours with some great views of Aiguille du midi and the Les Houches ski pistes on the way. The climb was steep in places, but thankfully shady in many parts.
There is a cafe/restaurant on the way to Col de Voza and a pretty restaurant at Col de Voza serving the needs of those who get off the Tramway du Mont Blanc railway to enjoy the scenery and views. More importantly there is a tap saying eau potable (drinking water) which was essential for re-filling water supplies.
The trail from Col de Voza to Col de Tricot passes the Bellevue hotel and runs alongside the railway track for a while until it moves off into a narrow trail through woods.
On walking to the meadows near the Bionnassay glacier I decided to make my way back rather than climb to the Col de Tricot as it was getting late in the day and I had a couple of hours in unusually hot 25 C temperature weather to do the decent back to Les Houches. (temperature in Les Houches reached 31C on this day).
A collage of photos of signposts on the route and some of the spectacular scenery is shown below.