TMB – Day 4: Chamonix – Les Houches
I woke up today feeling hugely grateful for the flexibility of our schedule. Having Refuges and/or hotels booked in advance erases the worry of looking for a camp spot each and every night, competing with hoards of other hikers, and for some people that might be a very important, perhaps even the deciding factor when planning a trek, but today when I looked out of our hotel window I could feel my heart sing with joy over the beautiful day that was starting in front of my eyes. Should we have had place pre-booked last night at our originally planned destination (town of Les Houches) we would have been forced to push through the weather system, and it would have been miserable, wet hike with no views of this absolutely breathtaking stage whatsoever.
It was a short and sweet day for us today. Dave started feeling a cold trying to get him, and we decided not to push far or hard and we booked a room in the next town Les Houches, which is only about 3.5 hours of walking away from Le Brévent where we started, mostly downhill.
With such a short day, we slept in, took our time at breakfast, and did not start hiking until 11:00 a.m. And even then we did not rush. It was impossible to rush through this section of never-ending views. I took so many pictures that I depleted my phone battery within the first hour. Whomever invented power bank, thank you greatly.
At 12:35 p.m. we arrived at Refuge Bel-Lachat. We loved the terrace with views of Mont Blanc massive and all the glaciers reaching towards the valley. On a day like today, sunny and hot, the glaciers were quite a active. We witnessed three ice falls in the span of an hour. At first, we considered having a drink here but the prices deterred us. And so we found a spot close by where we sat in the grass with other hikers and had a snack from our own provisions. And then we took a nap in the hot afternoon sun, and before we knew it, an hour was gone.
We enjoyed the views for a while longer but eventually the trail dropped us into a forest. Right then we started to hear the traffic from the valley but it still took us more than two hours to get all the way down, passing a possible camp site, and a gigantic statue of Jesus along the way.
Town time always flies. When on a trail, climbing a hill especially, every minute feels like an hour. In town every hour seems like a minute. We checked into our hotel, made a quick grocery run, had dinner at local brew pub, and it was nearly time to hit the bed. If Dave feels better tomorrow we will hike a pretty long and strenuous stage.
NOTES: August 8, 2019
Breakfast at Hotel Richemond was fantastic. Buffet style, eat as much as you want, and it included eggs, salami, ham, prosciutto, bread, croissants, pain-au chocolate, eggs, yogurt, cereals, fruit compote, and of all the typical hot beverages and juice. Great breakfast before a hike.
The cable car from Chamonix to Brévent (where we reconnected with TMB as Chamonix itself does not lay directly on the trail) was €24.50 per person one way.
Night at Refuge Bel-Lachat was €54 including dinner. The Refuge had a very nice view and would be nice place for sunset/sunrise photography. From what we saw, toilet was squatting kind. There was no visible water source nearby, and I’m not sure if free potable water is offered to guests. Pricing generally seemed little high. Pop was €5.50 (usually it’s €3.00 -€3.50), beer was €7.00 or €9.00 depending on kind, and 37.5 cl of wine was €10.00 I got the same size bottle of good Sauvignon down in the valley for €2.99
We saw couple lakes (not directly on the trail but near by) close to Brévent but no running streams or sources. Bring enough water for this stretch.
We passed beautiful camp spot about 1.5 hours down the hill from the Refuge. Small grassy spot overlooking the valley. View of the mountains and a fire pit. No water though.
In Les Houches we found a room for €95 in a hotel called Chalet Hotel du Bois. Spacious room, great shower. We even had a balcony. Being on the ground floor, though, brought quite a few ants in when we left the balcony door open for fresh air. Breakfast was not included. We could have purchased one for €12.00 a person but we opted to buy stuff at local grocery store which was cheaper and allowed us earlier start.
Food choices are limited, restaurants are speedy at Les Houches. We ended up having burger at the local brew pub. It was good and came with fries and coleslaw but still costed €19.00 each. If you are on a budget, pizza seems the cheapest option at around €13.00 or there are options at the grocery store.
Afternoon siesta at Refuge Bel Lachat