My first night at a refuge

Perched on the summits, the Southern Alps mountain refuges are steeped in authenticity and offer travellers a unique holiday experience in the great outdoors. Blending perfectly into their environment, these high-altitude shelters welcome hikers of all levels come to test the local trails. If it’s your first time at a refuge, we guarantee it will leave you with plenty of memories to take back home!

A night at a refuge

Togetherness and great tips

After an amazing day out feasting your eyes on the hiking trails of the Southern Alps, your legs will probably be feeling a little wobbly! Head to your refuge in the late afternoon, set down your backpack at the end of the bed, jump into the shower (go easy on the water – it’s rare up here) and settle down on the terrace or in the common room. Little by little, you’ll begin striking up conversations with the other hikers as you share the day’s adventures before dinner (usually served at around 7 p.m.). The atmosphere is always great and promises a lively evening before everyone turns in early. It’s time to head to the dormitory: most refuges now offer duvets or blankets so you can forget about your sleeping bag, but do bring along your sleeping bag liner. Slip between the sheets and drift into sweet dreams of your coming mountain escapades… Practical-minded hikers will also want to keep a headlamp handy in case they wake up in the night. Bonne nuit!

A refuge in the Parc National du Mercantour

Sleep at the foot of Europe’s largest high-altitude lake

An absolute must for hiking fans, the Refuge du Lac d’Allos perched at an altitude of 2,220 metres, welcomes you in a magnificent natural setting on the banks of Europe’s largest high-altitude lake, at the heart of Parc National du Mercantour. After an invigorating shower and night in the dormitory with your clan, you’re sure to fall in love with this rustic refuge and the wonderful opportunity it offers to switch off and get back in touch with simple pleasures. The Refuge des Merveilles also invites you on a wild adventure on Mount Bégo, rubbing shoulders with Le Grand Capelet and La Cime du Diable… Your hosts are passionate about the mountains too and their good humour and cheerful welcome are bound to make you feel at home. If you’re a green addict, the Refuge de la Cantonnière hosts a variety of environment and terroir-related activities for a full-on eco-friendly experience. And in the evening, you’ll enjoy sharing a hearty meal before snuggling down under the covers for a dream night on the heights…

Hautes-Alpes: from refuge to refuge

Reach for the stars…

If you want to take home some truly unforgettable memories of your first night at a refuge, opt for the last Saturday in June in the Hautes-Alpes. La Nuit des refuges is a refuge open evening attracting hikers and nature lovers alike and featuring a captivating line-up of live music, story-telling and theatre plays before you tuck in for the night. A delightful way of discovering mountain traditions and ideal introduction to the local refuges and their warm atmosphere. Easily-accessible and perfect for families, the Refuge du Tourond at the heart of the Parc national des Écrins is particularly recommended if you’re travelling with kids. This former mountain chalet, reputed for its fabulous starry skies, is also the departure point for sporty hikes such as the Tour du Vieux Chaillol. Keep your eyes peeled if you go in May: if you’re lucky you might just come across some ibex goats!

A shelter at the summit of Ubaye Valley

Cradled by the lifestyle of the Alpes de Haute Provence

A well-earned stop-off after your hike up to 2,630 metres, the Refuge du Chambeyron offers travellers a truly mesmerizing sight. Set amid lakes and at the foot of the valley’s highest summits, this tranquil refuge is the perfect place to relax and reconnect with nature. What’s more, the food is organic and homemade with local produce. The Refuge de la Pare in Saint-Pons also boasts gorgeous panoramic views of the sunset over the Séolanes mountains from the comfort of your sun lounger on the pretty, flower-filled terrace – a 100% zen experience after a day out on the trails. And when night falls, step inside this ancient farm to recharge your batteries with succulent local specialities as you listen to your hosts relate their mountain adventures. We can guarantee you’ll dream about coming back next year!