Day 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines

Setting Off on the TMB

See our video recap of Day 1 here.

We arrived in Les Houches the afternoon before we were scheduled to begin the TMB.  We got settled into our inn, Auberge Le Beau Site, stocked up on trail mix at the local Carrefour and walked to the trailhead so we would know exactly where to begin the next morning.  Our auberge was about 15-20 minutes from the start of the TMB.

Since it was our last morning before being on the trail, we decided to give ourselves a bit more time and aimed for a later-than-normal start.  We planned to leave by 9 a.m., but it was about 20 or 25 after before we departed the auberge.  (As a side note, the inn held our extra bag until our return for 4 euros.)

Based on Dave and Brenda’s report, we expected the initial climb to the first pass, Col de Voza, to be relatively easy.  Boy were we wrong!  We missed a sign early on and lost the trail, setting us back about 30-40 minutes.  (I should emphasize that we missed the sign; it was in fact clearly marked.)  Besides that fiasco, the climb was just far more demanding than we expected.  Now, it’s difficult to say if we would have felt the same if this leg were on our third or fourth day or if it just seemed so taxing since it was the first.  (Did I mention that we didn’t train for the hike AT ALL??)

When we finally reached the col, we stopped at a small restaurant for lunch, where we mistakenly ordered breakfast though also had a delightful charcuterie and cheese platter.  The remainder of the hike to Les Contamines was very pleasant and wound through several quaint villages.

Upon arrival in Les Contamines, we quickly found our bed and breakfast, La Ferme de Bon Papa, just off the main road.  The hostess was lovely, though we weren’t able to communicate with her well, as we do not speak French and her English was very limited.  The B&B is an old farmhouse built in the 1600s and belonged to the great-great-grandparents of the current owner.  Our quarters were comfortable, with a private room and bath.  We showered, had dinner in the village at a small pizzeria and turned in for an early night.

Our first day on the TMB had been longer and harder than we expected, with a total hiking time of nearly 7.5 hours (9:40 a.m. – 5 p.m.), including lunch and breaks, but we had made it and were ready for what was next.


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