My First Mountain Hut (And 5 Courses at Dinner!) on the Tour de Mont Blanc.
Yesterday I went over the highest point on the Tour De Mont Blanc and then slept in an old cow stable in France. It's more comfortable than you might think, especially since it has now been converted into beds. In fact, what used to be an old dairy farm has been completely changed into a refuge. Instead of relieving cows of their milk, the farm is now happily giving hikers home cooked meals and a warm place to sleep.
This was my first time staying at a mountain hut of this kind and I was curious about what to expect. Turns out it was such a nice way go, especially after what was one of the harder days of hiking in recent memory (4,500 vertical ft up and 3,000 ft down over 20km).
No setting up a tent. No cooking. No cleaning. Just a hot shower, a soft bed, and a delicious meal.
Freshly showered and weary but happy from a fantastic day of hiking I walked across the old farmyard to dinner with a highly anticipatory stomach. Old dairy and cheese making equipment hung from the rafters while stone walls held it all aloft. I found my table, a long, shared sort with two genuine French (and French speaking) couples. Despite a significant language barrier they proved to be quite pleasant table mates. It's amazing what a gesture and a smile can accomplish when at the dinner table. The wooden floor creaked pleasantry as I leaned in to get a glimpse of the first course. I would not be disappointed.
As of 2017 rates for half board (Dinner, breakfast, and a dorm bed) 47 Euros (about $55 USD).
-A cozy bed in a shared dormitory. Basically a long line of mattresses set right next to each other. Pray you aren't near a snorer and always bring earplugs. Luckily, I had empty spaces on either side of me and the place was strangely snore-free.
-A one, two, three, four, five course meal! 1. Vegetable soup. (Made even better with Tabasco. Never leave home without it) 2. Tomato and onion salad. 3. A ridiculously tasty beef stew (beef bourguignon?) over delicious roasted veggies and rice. 4. A cheese coarse consisting of a slice incredibly good cheese. 5. A pudding, much like creme brulee but without the crispy top.
-Breakfast the next morning. Cereal, coffee, tea, bread, butter, and jam.
This is not a bad deal if you consider the quality of the food and the fact that I was in the middle of the mountains, miles from a town of any size. The night before I camped for 10 Euros and got food at the grocery so it is possible to do this more cheaply. But you can bet I'll keep this option up my sleeve when my legs are tired and my stomach hungry for more than a baguette and cheese. Believe me, I could get used to this.