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Chamonix Trail Running

Trail runners on the Grand Balcon Sud
Trail runners on the Grand Balcon Sud

Bring your trainers! A network of routes for all levels start right from our door.

Yoga mats and foam roller provided – and the numbers of mobile massage therapists for when even the hot tub and sauna can’t fix the muscles.

Chamonix 360 has a very nicely curated selection of trails with well written info on the trails, photos and good clear maps. Their hiking and trail running Youtube channel has useful video overviews of some popular runs – here’s one for Lac Blanc. You start at the Flegere lift, five minutes from the chalet.

There is also an excellent 3D guide at fatmap.com – sample screenshot here with our position marked.

Running routes

Most of the walking routes are also good for running. For an easy circuit, you can do around 10k on the flat, easy, trails of the valley floor, straight out of the door, no need to go on a road at all. They provide endless variety in their interlinked meanderings through woods & meadows, and past streams & lakes. You can head on up to the Rochers des Mottets if you want more climbing, or the Sources d’Arveyron and Le Chapeau.

For more uphill, there is a nice loop you can do to Chalet Floria from the chalet. Start by the ski-maker Rabbit On The Roof in les Praz and go up in the shade through the woods. Keep going at the Floria cafe and then take the right hand path down to les Praz to end up at the golf course, then back to the chalet. Or you can head through the Paradis des Praz and extend your run by the river to Argentiere.

The biking map shows a lot of the lower routes as circuits and is a good place to start.

At altitude, I especially like the high, level paths of the Grands Balcons – both Nord and Sud are superb runs, though they can be very busy on summer weekends – if this is the only time you can do it I would go very early.

Mont Blanc Marathon on the Grand Balcon Sud

For the ambitious, try the 1500m climb to La Jonction. Be aware that there are some big dropoffs so be vigilant – it’s easy to be distracted by the scenery but do keep an eye on your feet!

chamonix Trail Running Safety
Keep your eyes on the trail!

Check out my post on walking safety – all the same principles apply, and also our favourite routes.



The season begins with the Mont Blanc Marathon and its sister events the Cross, the 10k and the truly loopy Vertical Kilometer.

The Dru is a spectacular backdrop for trail running
The Dru is a spectacular backdrop for the Mont Blanc Marathon

At the end of August, the circus that is the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc hits town- one of the world’s most prestigious running events. The four races that make up the Ultra Trail weekend vary in length from 96km to an astonishing 300+km, and the atmosphere over the days of the races is incredible. This is an insanely busy time in the town so so book early!

UTMB Chamonix
My friend from Japan, still smiling as she heads to the finish the 160km UTMB

The heart of the event is the 166 km Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, with almost 10,000m elevation gain, which attracts an enormous crowd. It’s hugely oversubscribed every year, despite strict qualification requirements, so a ballot chooses the 2300 entrants who pour through the town on the way to their epic journey.  Have a look at these great photos by Henry Iddon to get an idea of the atmosphere.

The season finishes with the 50km Trail des Aiguilles Rouges, which has 4000m ascent over three huge passes through beautiful scenery

As you can imagine, those brave/heroic/crazy enough to run hundreds of kilometers for fun are often very interesting people, and if you are around at any of these events, do go along to support the runners. They will appreciate it so much, and the settings and atmosphere are wonderful.

“Embedded in that culture is a shared sense of humility, a collective understanding that recreating in the mountains—no matter the sport—is about the experience of the journey and a respect for the natural environment. Pursuing the monumental challenges found within the Mont Blanc massif and developing a lasting connection with the mountains and your fellow adventurers have long been part of Chamonix’s raison d’etre.

Whereas the American style of trail running has mostly been influenced by road running infused with perhaps some latent hippie subculture tendencies and a newfound joy of escaping to the high country, mountain running in Europe, and especially in Chamonix, is largely connected to its centuries-old mountaineering and long-distance hiking roots. That’s not to say there isn’t hardcore trail running throughout mountainous regions of the U.S.—there is—it’s just that the adventurous vibe and sense of comradeship among other mountain sports participants is woven into the fabric of life in Chamonix.”

– Competitor magazine: Chamonix, France: The Culture of Hard-Core Trail Running