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The Hospice at the Col du Grand St Bernard is an inexpensive place to spend a night or two. The rooms are small and clean - there is no TV. You can eat meals there but there is also a nice little place right over the Italian border (5 minute walk) with the most incerdible food. It is important to take a jacket and sweater as the nights (and often the days) are cold at 2500m altitude. The road to the Pass on the Swiss side is steep and has many hairpin bends. It is narrow, with no guardrails, so not recommended as a road to take after dark. The road coming up on the Italian side is much better.
Drive down to Aosta in Italy for an interesting day trip. The road on the Italian side of the Col is much better than the one on the Swiss side. Aosta is a Roman city, founded in 50BC to guard the southern approach to the St Bernard. You can visit the Roman theatre, and see many Roman ruins. The city walls are amazingly thick, and on Tuesdays the market in the streets is well worth a visit. There are small shops where you can buy wine, cheese and bread for lunch or for a late night snack. Aosta has terrific gelati, especially in the gelateria around the town Hall (Hôtel de Ville).,
Getting back to the Hospice - The rooms are simple and clean with no television.There are rooms in both the hospice and the hotel. Make sure you know which one you have booked at because each is separately managed.
The real reason to go to the Col is of course to see the Saint Bernard dogs!. This is the original location where Saint Bernards were bred and used for rescue. To find out more go to the Barry Foundation website www.fondation-barry.ch . The dogs are only at the Col during the summer months. During the winter they are housed in Martingy which is about 40km downhill in Switzerland, on the Rhone. . there is a small Museum at the Col, and the dogs live in a wing of the museum. During the day they are outside in a large enclosure with caretakers spending a great deal of time with them. The trainers take them on walks in the mountains. The Museum entrance fee includes access to the dogs and sometimes in the summer there are puppies to see as well! . The Hospice itself has a beautiful chapel with regular church services. Take time to look at their incredible Treasures.
The Grand St Bernard Pass is open from the end of May to mid October. (Generally it opens on Whitsun weekend and closes when the first snows come in the autumn.) You can do a detour to see the pass if you are travelling from Switzerland to Italy - just turn off the main road at the tunnel and head on up! After the pass you cross the frontier and drop down into the Val d'Aoste. An excellent place for lunch is the Croix Blanche at Etroubles, more or less at the bottom of the pass. They have a great antipasti buffet.