TMB – Day 5: Les Houches – Les Contamines-Montjoie
If I was to nickname today’s section of our Tour du Mont Blanc adventure, it would have to be the procrastination stage.
We planned to leave by 7:00 a.m. but the bed was so comfy that when we finally rolled out of the hotel, it was very close to 8:00.
The first uphill was brutal. The trail followed gravel road through a forest with no views, and that always kills our enthusiasm, but this road was also crazy steep and never-ending. We sweated our way up with several other hikers, some of them on the Tour du Mont Blanc as us, some hiking the GR5 which shares this section.
At the top, which we reached in two hours, we arrived at Col de Voza, tourist festered place with a tram station that can take you ways up into the mountains to a spot where you can admire views of Bionnassay Glacier. Similar views opened to us, but we had to break quite a few drops of sweat to earn them.
Before we set out for the glacier, we got Orangina from a local refreshments store. When drinking it, we started a conversation with a guy who is on GR5, hiking it all the way from his home country, Holland. From all the people we spoke to so far, the Dutch dominate the trail. It makes us miss our friends Christ, Carlo, and Nol whom we shared some time with on GR20 earlier this year who were also from Holland. It was so nice to have a pitchet of wine with them every night, comparing our experiences, or chatting about something completely non-related to the trail. I’m not sure exactly why, but the TMB is much different from the trails we hiked in the past. It’s not nearly as crowded as we expected considering popularity of the trail, and the few hikers we have met so far have disappeared somewhere and we never saw them again.
After Col de Voza, we enjoyed a short downhill to a suspension bridge over a raging river and then we went up and up and up toward the next Col. But before we could reach it, the path placed a meadow with fantastic views in our way. The perfect lunch spot. We ended up staying almost an hour, lounging on a shaded rock, picking blueberries.
We did not plan to spend much time at Col de Tricot either but once we got there, the soft green grass begged us to lay down. Thirty more minutes gone.
We gained some time on the descent from Col de Tricot towards Chalets de Miage where we took another break at a local chalet and enjoyed some more Orangina.
Yet another opportunity to procrastinate arose fourty minutes later at L’Auberge du Truc where we stopped for another drink. If we haven’t had another long day ahead of us tomorrow, I’d suggest spendings the night there. Cicerone guide book talks about Chalets de Miage, and yes, that place have a good vibe and view, but the Auberge has much more relaxed feel and the views were just as good.
No matter how much we loved the views, we chose to continue further to a town of Les Contamines-Montjoie where a lovely lady at the tourists information center made few phone calls and helped us book a night at a very nice and reasonably priced hotel. We hoped to camp more higher in the mountains but Dave is not over his cold quiet yet and a good night rest is essential for him to be able to go through the stage and quite frankly this little mountain town is pretty awesome. Tomorrow we have an opportunity to take our very last alternate on this trip. The forecast is not in a favor of us going over the cols but it’s the mountains and we will make our final decision depending on what the sky looks like tomorrow morning.——————————————————-
NOTES: August 9, 2019
If you take the alternate, prepare for some climbs. They are worth it.
A night with board (dinner and breakfast) at L’Auberge du Truc costs €42.00. Camping is also available. We would have lived to spend night.
At Les Contamines-Montjoie we secured a room at hotel La Clef des Champs. Nice room with private bathroom and mountain view for €75.00 which includes breakfast for two people. Room on its own would have been €56.00 a night.
There is a very well stocked grocery store in town allowing for full resupply.
You will find several restaurants to pick from too. We chose Au Bistro Gourmand. They serve dinner starting at 6:00 p.m. The service was kind of slow but the food was amazing.