2015-02-21 14.12.47 18.00.17

One winter night, over 10 years ago, Michael and I had a lovely dinner at a remote and very isolated mountain refuge high in the Italian Dolomiti. Rifugi like this are common all over the alps, but usually they’re only open a few months in the summer when they welcome climbers and hikers. You can’t drive or ski to them. This particular place was literally located on top of an Alp, and the only way to reach it in winter was by ski-doo or an hour-long hike up unlit mountain trails through a dense forest.

That evening happened to be a beautiful, clear, starry night so we chose to hike there. But after an hour without running into a soul, either on foot or ski-doo, we started to worry we’d made a wrong turn. We were relieved to spot some lights flickering through the trees and then, a little further along, the refuge appeared. Our hosts greeted us with a warm welcome and once we were inside we realized the place was packed with a lively, boisterous crowd of people. Now where exactly had they come from? We were led to our table (the very last one) through several lovely candlelit wood paneled dining rooms. The food we saw on the way looked and smelled delicious, wine was flowing freely and everyone seemed to be having a blast. Later we realized most of the diners were booked in for a stay. This place had guest rooms too. After dinner we were grateful to be given a sled to help us get back down the trail. It was a truly magical dining experience in a place that was more than a little off the beaten track. The adventure we had getting there made it all the more memorable. 

Our return to Pont de Nant this winter brought us right back to that evening. But this time it was daylight, a different country and the walk up wasn’t something we’d planned. As I mentioned in my last post, I’d been wanting to try the Auberge we’d discovered here, quite by accident, last summer. In the winter it is only open on weekends so I’d made our reservation for Saturday lunch. We retraced our route from last July, but shortly after we turned onto that beautiful road through the forest we reached a dead end. It appeared the road to Pont de Nant was CLOSED in the winter when it becomes a groomed trail used by hikers and telemark skiers. We’d have to walk all the way up there! 

I am someone who hates to be late for anything, especially a meal. And up until that moment I had also been successfully ignoring a New Year’s resolution too. To whip myself into shape early sometime in 2015. A 30 minute hike straight up a mountain, on a very cold day that I was neither fit nor properly dressed for was about to put an end to all that. Plus we were going to be late for lunch, which is probably my worst nightmare. 

Michael heads out to see what the scoop is...

Michael heads out from the car park to see what the scoop is…

This sign says it all

This sign says it all

here's me in a bit of a funk

 in a bit of a funk. At least if I get blast frozen up here I’ll be easy to spot.

This sled at the entrance to the trail up suggests coming down might be a bit easier than going up

This sled at the entrance to the trail up suggests coming down gets easier

Which way should we go?

Which way do we go?

Michael is loving this

 Michael is  loving this 

IT is pretty gorgeous though

I guess it is pretty gorgeous 

so much water running everywhere ....

there is water running everywhere

a winter wonderland for telemark skiers and their dog!

as if on cue from central casting these telemark skiers and their amazing dog appeared right out of nowhere 

NO camping!!

As if….

Isn't this a pretty site?

Finally …..

2015-02-21 13.59.00

2015-02-21 13.59.30

thank goodness. I'm famished.

thank goodness. I’m absolutely  famished.

Oh and the menu looks amazing too!

Oh and look, they have a beer menu too!

Hard to choose. I want it all.

Listen, after all this we were expecting something simple. Rustic mountain fare. A cheese croute or if we were lucky maybe some fondue or raclette. Look at this menu. How on earth do they do this?  

We shared the scallops to start

We shared this lovely scallop carpaccio to start.  

Michael had the sausage

Then local Vaudois sausage wrapped in a puff pastry crust with lentils was for Michael but I helped him out. Delicious.

And this was all mine. I earned it.

 Then this succulent pork belly was all mine. Because I earned it.

Blueberry tart for dessert

Blueberry tart for dessert

and coffee that came with a delicious ganache tart

and coffee  with a lovely homemade ganache tart square

Our server was lovely. He recommended an excellent local white wine and then after lunch he showed us the guest rooms. Yes, you can stay here too. Like the restaurant, the rooms were cozy and warm, traditionally furnished but decorated with a few elegant modern touches. And of course they were absolutely spotless.

I just love places like this.  A spectacular setting well off the beaten track and a bit of an adventure to get to.  Somewhere you don’t go to be fed, but to be nourished. This is exactly the kind of experience we try to give our own guests at La Petraia. Next time we go back we’re spending the night, or maybe even the weekend. 

In case you’re wondering how I made it back down the mountain after all that…

Happy, Happy, Happy…..



If you go:

Auberge de Pont-de-Nant
Address: 1880 Les Plans-sur-Bex, Vaud, Switzerland

Phone:024 498 14 95

Best to call ahead for reservations. The auberge is open daily in the summer for lunch and dinner. In the winter it is open Friday dinner through Sunday lunch. It has several lovely guest rooms plus, as is common in many alpine inns, a very comfortable larger dorm room with bunk beds that would be perfect for a large family or a group. 

In the summer this is the departure point for hikers into the higher alps where there are a couple of mountain farms (alpages) you can visit.


Posted By: Keith Raymond March 4th, 2015 @ 8:25 pm

The well known Quebec beer (Fin du Monde) and scallop carpaccio? Next time arrive early and get a lift up with their supplier!

Posted By: lapetraia March 9th, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

Wow! didn’t know that. Have to go back now and try that combo:) Thanks Keith…

Posted By: Jackie Chalmers March 5th, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

I look so forward to your posts and have had a wondrous time living vicariously through your adventures. lovely, lovely, lovely… Warm thanks! 🙂

Posted By: lapetraia March 9th, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

Thank you Jackie Chalmers!!

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