Great St. Bernard Pass Hospice

1946 Bourg-Saint-Pierre, Switzerland

Up until 2004, Switzerland’s iconic furry friends—St. Bernard dogs—were bred at this monastery and hospice. While the canines have been relocated, the Great St. Bernard Hospice, which sits on a barren, treeless plane at 8,100 feet, is still an active monastery run by Augustinian monks. The steep four-mile ascent from the valley is a killer on foot, but still doable—on groomed trails in summer and on snowshoes in winter. Inside, monks greet you and show you to communal tables in the stone dining hall where vegetable soups are served with hunks of Bagnes cheese, thick slices of brown bread, and honey-sweetened tea (or a carafe of red Dôle wine produced in the Valais region just below, which seems to be the more popular option). Don’t miss the odd museum, displaying local taxidermy, ancient coins, and maps once used for Alpine crossings; the 800-year-old crypt is allegedly stuffed with the bodies of ancient travelers who didn’t survive the journey. A register of “Les passants célèbres” includes Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Alexandré Dumas but omits Charles Dickens, who lived nearby for a summer.

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