No, ABTA is a UK organisation and we’re a French registered company. We are registered with ATOUT France, which is roughly equivalent to ABTA. ATOUT is the trade body for travel agents and tour operators in France, and gaining an ATOUT immatriculation number requires either a bond or financial protection insurance, just like joining ABTA. So, our package customers are protected by a financial guarantee in much the same way as ABTA members’ customers.
We have a financial guarantee with Groupama in France as well as Tour Operator insurance. The guarantee covers all payments made to White Marmotte. It also covers the cost of repatriation to your start point in the event of the trip being interrupted.
In the event of the trip being cancelled by us, or not matching the advertised standard, you have certain rights under the EU Package Travel Regulations, including a full or partial refund and/or compensation depending on the specific circumstances.
Finally, we take payments by credit or debit card as this provides more protection to customers. We do not recommend booking a holiday with any company that asks you to pay by bank transfer. There have been numerous instances of scammers using bank transfers to steal money from customers.
We prefer to take payments by credit or debit card as this provides more protection for customers. Speaking personally, we don’t like making bank transfers to people we haven’t yet met, so we don’t expect you to either. We take payments using our online payment gateway, provided by Square (which is why you’re asked to accept cookies a second time when you go to the payment page). Card payments can be made using the booking links on our website. We can also send you an email invoice with a payment link. The Square payment system also accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Currently, the only group trip or course suitable for children under 16 is the Summer Hiking Week, which is open to children aged 12 and above. We offer children’s navigation courses on demand, and we plan to schedule more of these in the near future.
There are a few reasons for this. The biggest is the variable cost of accommodation. A two-star hotel in May is much cheaper than a four-star one in August. Other reasons relate to transport costs. Sometimes we can use shared transfers, at other times we have to book a whole minibus for the group. And during the trip, some products require us to hire a minibus while others rely on public transport.
We also have to cover the costs of the leader – if the trip is in Chamonix and the leader lives there, we don’t have to pay for a hotel for them, otherwise we have to book accommodation for one more person. Finally, we price the trip according to how many people we expect to book. If we know ten people will book we can charge less per person than if we only expect four bookings.
For most of our products, the simple answer is one, but we will need to charge accordingly. If you have four people for a Chamonix based product, or six for a multi-day trek, we can usually arrange a bespoke package for not much more than the standard price.
Drop us a line and ask. As long as we get enough notice, we’ll do our best to set up an extra trip or course if we have people interested.
For products including a hotel booking, we generally get charged a lot more per person for a single room than for a double. We try not to add too much, but we do need to pass on most of this cost to the customer, otherwise we’d have to charge more overall. For centre-based trips, we’re happy to match you up with somebody of the same sex to share a room with if we can. But if we can’t, we’ll have to charge the single supplement.
On the multi-day treks, if there are some nights in hotel rooms, rather than dormitories, we’ll try to match people up to share twin- or triple-bed rooms. If we can’t do that we’ll absorb the cost of a single room. If you choose to have a single room when a sharing option is possible, we’ll charge the single supplement.
The biggest reason is the environmental cost. We’re trying to keep our products as sustainable as possible, and we really don’t like the idea of mountains of baggage being transported around the Tour du Mont Blanc. There are several stages of the TMB where a few kilometres walk requires a trip of around a hundred kilometres by road.
Secondly, we don’t think it’s necessary. Staying in refuges and hotels, and packing sensibly, you can easily pack everything you need for the week and keep the pack under ten kilos. When other companies provide luggage transfers, we’ve seen that people tend to bring far more than they need, using more fuel and increasing the environmental cost further.
Finally, its expensive to ferry baggage about. By not providing this service we can keep the costs lower and stay in nicer accommodation.
We try to keep all our trips as sustainable as possible. Minimising our environmental footprint and treading lightly on the planet is important to us. As noted above, this is the reason why we don’t offer luggage transfers. We encourage all our customers to travel light as well – it reduces the fuel consumption of the transport to get here, as well as making the hiking a lot easier.
We are looking at using the most environmentally friendly transport options, and we adjust the transport type to the size of the group. For transport around the valley, we’re trialling using public transport for some of our trips. Otherwise, we’ll use a small car to transport two or three people, and only use a minibus for larger groups.
We don’t provide travel or search and rescue insurance, so you’ll need to arrange this yourself before travelling.
As a minimum, you need to have insurance that covers search and rescue costs, including by helicopter, as well as emergency medical care. Participation in our products is conditional on you having this insurance. French residents can purchase a suitable policy at www.sport.lycea.fr.
We recommend that you purchase a more comprehensive travel policy. This might cover cancellation and curtailment, loss, damage or theft of your possessions, full medical costs, and repatriation.
This is due to the different legislation in different countries. We’re expected to propose a policy for French residents as good practice for a French tour operator. In the UK for example, we’ve been advised not to recommend insurance as doing so could constitute unqualified financial advice.
At the moment, all our group trips and courses are based around Chamonix. We usually run our private bookings in the same area. We have also run plenty of courses in the Ecrins region around Bourg d’Oisans and Les Deux. We’d love to run more in that area, so do ask if you’re interested.
For our bespoke products, we’re happy to travel to deliver a course or trip, but we’d need to factor our additional expenses into the price.
We recommend strong hiking boots with good ankle support for all our hiking trips and courses. These make it easier to move on rough or rocky terrain and reduce the chance of lower leg injuries. If you are not used to hiking on difficult terrain, we would strongly advise against wearing anything lighter.
That said, you’ll notice that a lot of people on the Alpine trails wear trail running shoes, including a lot of hiking guides. These are lighter and more comfortable to wear all day. The downside is that they increase the risk of injury and make it harder to stand on small footholds. If you are already used to hiking in the mountains wearing fell or trail running shoes, or approach shoes, you can wear them on our trips as long as you accept the risk of injury. We take no responsibility for sprained ankles or other injuries sustained as a result of wearing lightweight footwear.
Ordinary trainers or road running shoes are not suitable for any of our trips.
Trekking poles are becoming more and more popular in the Alps, with more people using them than not. We do recommend them as they reduce the load on your legs, leading to fewer injuries. It is important to be able to stow them in or on your rucksack for difficult sections where you need your hands.
We appreciate that airport security often takes a dim view of trekking poles in carry-on baggage. If you can’t bring them with you, you can hire a set from us at a nominal rate.