Le Tour to Refuge Albert 1er
Elevation + / -
862m / 862m
Out and back
When to go
Start Jul - End Sep
3.0 - 5.0 Hours
1860m / 2702m
Very Nice (4/5)
1.5 - 2.5 Hours
7+ Years old
The Refuge Albert 1er, at an altitude of 2702 meters, is one of the most accessible high altitude refuges in the Chamonix Valley thanks to the Charamillon gondola, which departs from Le Tour, and the Autannes chair lift. The refuge sits next to the large and imposing Glacier du Tour and provides excellent views of the glacier throughout much of the trail. The refuge itself is an impressive structure and has a nice kitchen serving tartiflette, croute and a range of salads. Very impressive if you think of the altitude they are serving it at.
There are a couple of options for reaching refuge. The most attractive part of the trail will be the traverse between the Les Esserins and the final steep climb up to the refuge. The main option we present here takes the gondola to the midstation and then traverses to the Refuge and takes the exact same route back. This option is doable with children and the times we did this trail we encountered quite a number of children following this route. If you want to further reduce the vertical gain then you can take the Autannes chair lift from the mid station and then do the traverse to the Refuge. This reduces the vertical gain to 537 meters and it will be the easiest option. Lastly, the option we present in the video is to use the gondola to the mid-station, visit the refuge but then take the trail straight down to Le Tour. This trail is beautiful and follows the Tour Glacier all the way down but it comes with a warning: the trail is very steep and it is a long descend. In many places you will be using your hands and metal railings and supports and there will be some steep drop offs in certain locations. This is not a child friendly route at all. Lastly, you could do this option in revere where you take the steep trail from Le Tour all the way up to the refuge and then head to the midstation from there. The best views are from the midstation to the refuge so doing it in reverse would be a waste in our opinion.
Photos of this Trail
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Trail Directions & Safety Considerations
7+ Years old
We recommend to keep your dog on a leash
When to Go
Start Jul - End Sep
Risk Considerations & Difficulty Assessment
This route reaches an altitude of 2702 meters and it will have varying degrees of snow cover until quite late in the season. In most cases the trail be doable at the start of July and mostly snow-free by mid July. Check ahead of time if the trail and refuge are reasonably accessible. The trail is well marked with very few splits in the road. So getting lost is nearly impossible as long as the trail itself is not covered in snow. The main option we present here is technically easy and doable for children. The option we describe above where you take the alternate path down and follow the glacier all the way down to Le Tour is a lot more technical and we would rate that as difficult and not family friendly.
Trail Starting Point
You can start the trail at the hamlet of Le Tour. There is a large carpark in the center of the hamlet. There is also a bus stop right next to the lift station. The nearest train station is Montroc-le-Planet but that leaves a 20-30 minute walk with 120 meters of elevation to reach Le Tour.
Take the Charamillon gondola from the hamlet of Le Tour. The trail starts right across from the midstation and simply follow the signs for the Refuge Albert 1er. It is a single trail and well marked so you can't miss the Refuge. Simply take the same route back to the midstation and the gondola back to Le Tour. On the way back down from the refuge, you will reach a junction with the option to keep following the glacier all the way down to Le Tour. This is an option and adds quite a bit of scenery but the climb is technical and strenuous and it is a long descend.
Points of Interest for this Trail
We have a large database of all of the points of interests in and around Chamonix. These are the points of interest you will find along this trail:
3D Map & GPS
Trail Route Map & GPS
You can download the GPX file and load this route into your own GPS enabled device or application. If you are on Strava, then you can open this route in Strava and save it to your account.
3D Map of this Trail
FATMAP in an incredible website and mobile application that you can use to view the trail in full 3D, do a fly over of the route and get a detailed vertical profile. You can view the FATMAP of this trail below and use the 'View larger map' link to visit the trail on the FATMAP website.