We arrived in Les Houches around noon after taking an Alpybus shuttle from the Geneva Airport. Initially, we had planned on spending a day in Chamonix before trekking, but due to weather and the late arrival of our flight, decided we would see the beautiful mountain town at the end of the trek.
Les Houches is a quaint little village to the east of Chamonix and the perfect starting point to begin our anti-clockwise tour of Mont Blanc. We stayed at Gite Michel Fagot for the night, which offers a a nice set of dorm rooms. We had four beds in ours, and Julia and I shared the space with two older Spanish gentlemen from Mallorca. I had done my best before this trip to learn as much French as possible, but having no one to practice with left me with the same skills as a baker in a barnyard. It was nice to speak a language I was comfortable with. English is always easy, but Spanish can be just as nice. The host of the Gite was a pleasant young woman from Belgium, with airy brown hair and freckles earned from time out on the trails. She did a great job of managing the place, considering how many beds were under her responsibility.
We spent some time walking around Les Houches and talking about what to expect in the coming days. Not too far from the church we found a great little pizza place for dinner. After dinner, we made our way back to the gite, and settled in for a restless night. We woke up early the next morning and had our first taste of a French breakfast. Breads and jams go quite well as a side dish in my book, but it took some getting used to once I realized this is all I’d be likely to have in the days ahead. Nonetheless, it was quite good when paired with a large helping of coffee.
The trail began on a wooded stairway after walking for a few hundred meters outside of the gite. The then leads though a light wooded area and passes by a few houses and roads on it’s way to the first high point, Col de Voza.
After the Col, the trail is all downhill until Les Contamines. It was a great deal of fun for us, as a trail race was taking place at the same time. Seeing runners fly by, and others hobble on, made us appreciate the leisurely pace of trekking. We reached Les Contamines not too long after noon, and found a great bed and breakfast just behind the church and off the main road. We first stopped at the Carrefour Express and bought food for dinner and breakfast. We were very happy to have our own room for the night, complete with a TV to watch the World Cup, a hot water shower, and a nice warm bed.