One of the most appealing features of a Mont Blanc trek is the excellent food and drink you will enjoy along the way. In contrast to many of the World’s great treks where basic food and limited drink ( if any) is usually the order of the day the Mont Blanc circuit offers excellent choices for food and drink along the trail and it is easy to keep your self well fed and hydrated. It is very civilized hiking indeed!
Refuges offer half board to their residents and most will also offer lunch to passing trekkers. Some can be surprisingly well stocked whereas others may be more limited in what they offer. At some refuges it’s possible to get a Cappucino or a draught beer with a substantial meal whereas in others you’ll get no more than an instant coffee and baguette. So you have to take the rough with the smooth but overall you’d characterise the TMB as having excellent food choices.
Breakfast is provided by refuges to overnight guests. These can be good in some refuges especially in Italy with cereals and eggs, breads, fruit whereas in some refuges in France they can be more basic with just baguettes, jam and coffee.
Lunches can be bought at refuges on your route, though obviously you’ll need to plan your walking times accordingly to eat before you get too hungry( and always carry snacks as back up in case you can’t get lunch!). Cooked meals are offered by many refuges during set times, some may be more flexible in their times but at most you’ll be able to get baguette sandwiches, tarts and other snacks through the day.
Dinners are taken at refuges or if you’re in one of the valleys you’ll have more choice with various hotels, gites, cafes and restaurants in towns. Dinners at refuges are usually quite hearty affairs and you’ll be served whatever is on the menu for the day. If you have any dietary preferences or restrictions then you’ll need to let the refuge know when you arrive so they can prepare accordingly. They are certainly used to catering for vegetarians and people with common intolerances – though the degree of flexibility may vary between establishments. If you have a gluten intolerance it is advisable to bring some supplies with you so that if the options are limited for you in any one particular establishment then you won’t go to bed hungry. Bread & dairy features heavily on the menu in this part of the world!
You can fill up with potable drinking water from the refuges that you stay at and top up at the ones en route. Bottled water creates waste problems so it’s not recommended to plan your tip using bottled water but of course you may need to top up now and then. If you intend to fill up your bottle from the streams then you’ll need to purify the water as this is glacial meltwater usually and has potential pathogens. A UV pen or sterilizing tablets usually does the trick.
It’s usually possible to get a beer or glass of wine in most refuges that you stay in – nothing better after a long day’s walk than to sit out on a terrace and watch the sunset over the mountains with a drink in your hand. Most hikers tend to go to bed early and service in the bar also stops early so you’re unlikely to be kept up by drunken fellow hikers. Alcohol is not included in your half board so you’ll need to buy separately.