Three Weeks in Europe - Chamonix, Les Houches and Aosta through Food
Once again, here I am making myself hungry. While Boulder and our surrounding towns have a great array of delicious food to offer, there’s just something exciting about being someplace completely different, where you don’t know anything about the restaurants around you and can just be adventurous.
On our drive from Paris to the Alps, we had some “road trip snacks” of a fresh baguette, coffee and pastries from a shop near our hotel in Paris (which I mentioned here). This got us pretty far, but by mid-afternoon, we needed something more, and we needed to stretch our legs a bit! We ended up stopping in a town called Saulieu (which I only know because, even in airplane mode, somehow my phone was able to tell me!). Because it was off-season, we sat down at the first place we found, Café Parisien. The chalkboard folding sign out front made it seem like they had a full menu, but they ended up having one option for us (maybe because it was too early for dinner?). So we ordered the Croque Monsieur with a side salad and some coffee, ate, and got back on the road.
Since we opted to take the non-toll country roads, we ended up getting to our Airbnb in Les Houches around midnight, so we just finished the bread, made some tea (thanks to our Airbnb hosts!), ate some of our airplane/train snacks we brought, and went to bed.
The next morning, we made tea once we woke up, and then headed into Chamonix. We walked around for a bit, exploring the cute little town, grabbed a coffee (I’m an addict, I know), and ended up going to Le Bistrot, a Michelin star restaurant. I think that’s the first one I’ve ever been to! Nathaniel had done some Googling before we went, and he thought it sounded fun. We ended up each getting the lunch pre-fixe special and a glass of wine. Our lunch special started with delicious bread and butter, which was quickly followed by the first course of a pork biscuit, a peanut marshmallow, and watermelon gazpacho. The main course was perfectly cooked beef with cheesy crepes and mushrooms. Neither of us are big mushroom fans, but we figured if anyone knows how to cook them, a French Michelin Star chef does, and they were actually pretty good for mushrooms! We each got to choose a dessert, too! Nathaniel got a salted caramel chocolate cake with ice cream, and I got pistachio olive oil cake with frozen yogurt, white chocolate, fresh raspberries and vanilla bean. We let the sommelier pair the wine with our meal, and it was perfect.😋 Because it was lunchtime and we opted for the lunch special, the price was actually quite reasonable and the food was phenomenal. I’d imagine you could rack up quite the bill there, especially for a fancy dinner, but lunchtime worked perfectly for us!
After lunch, we bummed around a bit more, and ended up grabbing drinks at La Terrasse, which had a lovely patio upstairs, with a great view of a little town square and the nearby mountains. After, we went to Chamonix’s main grocery store, Super U, to get wine and food for two nights’ worth of dinner, then headed back to Les Houches. And of course no meal is truly complete without dessert, so before dinner we found a little bakery called Jacquier Eric in Les Houches where we each got three macarons. Cooking and eating in was a pleasant, relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the big cities we’d been in so far (and a little easier on the wallet). The kitchen in our Airbnb was quite well equipped, and we were very comfortable eating our pasta, red sauce and zucchini there.
The next morning, after going up L'Aiguille du Midi, we stopped for pastries and coffee (breakfast, since we wanted to get up the mountain as quickly as possible to beat crowds), then it was time to drive to Italy! If you drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, you end up first in Courmayeur, where we thought about getting a bite, but driving through showed us it was deserted (again, off season in a small ski town), so we kept driving and made it into Aosta. We parked and started wandering, and eventually settled on lunch at Cafe Nazionale in the main piazza. We got a pizza, gnocchi, bread and beer, and my ego took a hit as I found my Italian to be unbearably rusty. 🙄 The food really hit the spot, and we even had a little birdie guest visit with us while we ate! And, of course, no stop in Italy is complete without gelato! We found a shop called Gelaty, where I got lavender and chocolate, and Nathaniel really enjoyed his balsamic peach flavor!
That evening was the same food as the night before, cooked at our Airbnb again, and the next morning we got up bright and early to drive to the airport in Lyon, which meant airport coffee and pastries for breakfast, and next stop…Madrid!