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Auberge de la Maison (Courmayeur)

Auberge de la Maison (Courmayeur)

Emmanuel Tresmontant - 2009-01-26

If, by chance, you feel like spending a few days in the top resort of Val d’Aosta, we recommend making the acquaintance of Léo Garin, an exceptional and fascinating character.

This former rally driver, skier, mountaineer, golf player, cook, businessman and painter now runs the highly renowned Auberge de la Maison, which enjoys an unobstructed view of Mont Blanc.
 
Combining the most up-to-date comfort with old-style rustic charm, this 33-room hotel is one of the most beautiful in Courmayeur.
 
For the décor, Léo Garin spent years going around second-hand shops and antique dealers, both in France and Italy, looking for authentic mountain furniture.
 
Just one exception: you will find in the lounge a magnificent three-seat Venetian sofa which, he explained, was originally designed for young engaged couples: “The grandmother would sit between the man and woman so that nothing scandalous should happen…”
 
The restaurant serves cuisine typical of the Val d’Aosta, with tasty polenta cùnsa(cheese polenta),zuppa di Valpelline(a traditional soup made with bacon, savoy cabbage and rosemary) and the delicious warm potato salad with mocetta (dried ibex meat marinaded in spices), seasoned with Tuscan olive oil and lemon.
 
But be sure to taste the homemade ravioli, vegetable risotto and delicious warm chestnuts served with whipped cream, the Val d’Aosta dessert par excellence.
 
In the 1960s and 1970s, Léo Garin made a name for himself by creating the La maison de Filippo restaurant (one Michelin star), which was visited by General De Gaulle when he went to officially open the Mont Blanc Tunnel.
 
Today, at 60, Léo Garin is the living memory of and brains behind Courmayeur, where he presides over the Tourist Office. However, his personal pride and joy is to have built up over 40 years a truly unique collection of old engravings, depicting the Alps as they were explored from 1740 to 1860.
 
Published last December, his beautiful book Voyage au coeur des Alpes (Éditions Glénat) reproduces 150 unpublished engravings by the greatest artists of the time, such as Marc-Théodore Bourrit (1739-1819), E.T. Coleman (1748-1827), James Pattison Cockburn (1779-1847), Johann Rudolf Dikenmann (1793-1883) and Eugène Cicéri (1813-1890).
 
Working on the theme, these virtuosi of gouache and watercolour were themselves experienced mountain dwellers. Their works, combining the picturesque with romanticism and realism, recreate the feeling of wonder, but also sometimes of fear, experienced by the first mountaineers.
 
Over time, and despite the rapid growth of photography, they also influenced how we picture the Alps, from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, from Chamonix to Zermatt…
 
Auberge de la Maison
11013 Entreves
Courmayeur - Aosta
Tel: +39 0165 869811
Fax: +39 0165 869759 

If, by chance, you feel like spending a few days in the top resort of Val d’Aosta, we recommend making the acquaintance of Léo Garin, an exceptional and fascinating character.

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