For the most part, eating and drinking on the Tour du Mont Blanc is a pretty straightforward affair. With most of our trips, dinner is included each night, so there is little need to head out and scour the town for a decent restaurant. The food on offer will differ in each accommodation and particularly if you are taking the Mountain Hut option, but we wanted to give you as much information as possible about eating and drinking in this region before you head out.
Typical Haute-Savoie Food
The traditional set up for Raclette
Much of the walk is based in the Haute-Savoie region of France and Switzerland and this means one thing. Cheese. Here is a guide to the main dishes you will see in the area.
Raclette - Raclette is basically delicious melted cheese. It is accompanied by potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and dried meats and is an incredibly social meal. Generally, you will get an electric table-top grill with small pans, in which to melt slices of raclette cheese. The melted cheese is then mixed with the potatoes. A simple, but incredibly appetising dish.
Tartiflette - Tartiflette may seem like age-old mountain fare, like its cousin, raclette. However, it turns out that Tartiflette was created in the 1980s by the makers of reblochon cheese as a way to sell more of their product. This aside, it has turned into a regional speciality and seems like it has always been there. Tartiflette is a mixture of potato, onion, bacon and chives with a whole round of reblochon cheese melted on top of it. As far as comfort food goes, it doesn't get much better than this. Warming, satisfying and while a little on the unhealthy side, just what you need after a day on the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Rosti - This is basically a Swiss variation on the above. Rosti is grated and fried potato, which is then covered in cheese, ham and the occasional fried egg. Mushrooms are another ingredient that is widely used in both Rosti and Tartiflette, as this is another traditional mountain staple, foraged from the surrounding hills.
Typical Haute-Savoie Drink
Like the rest of the world, the Haute-Savoie is creating its own beers in abundance and there are some great local beers on offer. A couple to look out for are Bierre Leman and Veyrat. There are a ton of local wineries in the region and clinging to the very French belief in terroir (that wine expresses the characteristics of the area it is grown) it is definitely advisable to drink as locally as you can. And if you are looking for something to settle the stomach after a large meal, then there is always Génépi, the local herby liqueur. It is a bit of an acquired taste, but to drink like the locals, it is definitely worth trying.
Eating in Mountain Huts
In the mountain huts, dinner is included. These tend to be a convivial affair, and you will be seated with the other guests. Meal times are a real highlight in the huts, and you can enjoy the company of people from all over the world while you dine on good honest home cooked food. Dinner is typically soup with bread, a main course consisting of meat and rice or pasta, a side salad or vegetables, followed by dessert or cheese. If you have any dietary requirements, please tell us upon booking and we can arrange this with the huts.
Typical eating in a Mountain Hut
Breakfast and Lunch
Breakfasts are included each day. Breakfast in the 2/3* hotels is a buffet selection with lots of sweet treats like pastries, homemade jams fruit and cereals. Savoury tastes are also catered for with bread, cheese, ham and eggs available. We highly recommend the breakfast at Hotel Bouton d'Or in Courmayeur. We try to book this hotel as our first option on our 'in comfort' trips and the breakfast is one of the greatest you will find anywhere. Breakfasts in the huts tend to be very basic; bread, butter, jams, coffee, tea and orange juice. If you prefer something more substantial before walking, we recommend carrying a few energy bars with you each day and supplement your breakfast with one of these. Packed lunch items can be bought locally from supermarkets or the local boulangerie. If you are staying in a hut, order a packed lunch with them upon arrival.
Typical Mountain Hut Packed lunch
Eating in Chamonix
Chamonix is one of the towns where we do not provide an evening meal. This is simply because there is so much choice in the town, that we would urge you to get out and explore. However, we do have a few recommendations. La Caleche - Restaurant La Caleche is an outstanding Alpine restaurant and home of the classic Haute Savoie dishes of Raclette and Tartiflette. All done in a very traditional way, in surroundings that make you feel part of Alpine history. Le Fer a Cheval - Another Alpine offering, with some wonderful steak and some wizardry with morel mushrooms, makes this family-run restaurant well worth a visit. Coot Cats - Playing to a young ski/snowboard crowd in the winter, Cool Cats has a great atmosphere and serves up some eclectic street food. Great for vegans and vegetarians.
Eating in Courmayeur
Courmayeur is the other town that we do not provide an evening meal, meaning you get to go out and sample some authentic Italian mountain food. Here are a few places we recommend. Chalet Plan Gorret - This incredibly friendly restaurant provides hearty mountain fare with little Sardinian twists and tweaks that elevate the food above the norm. Just outside Courmayeur, but well worth the visit. Dandelion Cuisine de Montagne - For something a bit more refined and special, the Dandelion is the place for you. Fresh, modern and all the food is locally sourced and the dishes inspired by the nature that surrounds them. Ristorante Pizzeria du Tunnel - Hey, it's Italy, and even up in the mountains they make the most incredible pizza. Thin bases, tangy sauce and toppings to die for. Oh, and it would be crazy to visit Courmayeur without partaking in some Gelato! Gelateria Creme et Chocolat is a must visit for all.