Staying in a Mountain Refuge – The Essentials
A mountain refuge in the Pyrenees

A stay in a refuge in the Pyrenees mountains is one of those life experiences that will stay with you forever.

What’s the big deal?

Typical environment of a mountain refuge in Pyrenees

Imagine being up in the high mountains, surrounded by breathtaking beauty with nothing but the sound of cow (and horse) bells and bird song to disturb your contemplation.

It’s an environment that invites the relaxation of those tight shoulders and the shedding of the cares of the world.

Stay in a mountain refuge and let the mountain environment work its magic.

The mountain refuge experience is also the opportunity to connect with fellow mountain-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.

View from a mountain refuge

A stay in a mountain refuge is where language barriers disappear and life long friendships may be forged. A common love for the mountains is a powerful thing.

There are numerous refuges scattered throughout the Pyrenees mountains at various altitudes and with varying degrees of accessibility.

But the one thing all of them have in common is their invariably stunning mountain settings.

If you’re in need of some serious time out then a stay in a mountain refuge could be just the ticket.

Staying in a mountain refuge – the essentials

A mountain refuge in the Ariege PyreneesFirstly and most importantly it’s important to understand that a mountain refuge is not a hotel.

Living arrangements are communal with dormitory sleeping arrangements and it’s the guardian who will allocate you your bunk

There is no mains electricity, no mains water, no refuse collection and no internet. There is also generally no ‘phone signal at a mountain refuge.

You need a digital detox? You’ve got it!

Mountain refuges will have an area in which you will be asked to remove your hiking books and replace them instead with the Crocs that are provided.

As living arrangements are communal, consideration for your fellow refuge dweller and for the guardian’ is essential.

Great views from a mountain refuge in the PyreneesDrunkeness is frowned upon and noise after 21h30 likewise.

Many people staying in mountain refuges may be up at the crack of dawn for an alpine ascent of a local peak and need their sleep!

As there is no refuse collection, generate as little waste as possible and take it away with you when you leave.

A hand clearing up after dinner and a wipe down of the tables is always appreciated by the guardian.

Facilities provided by a mountain refuge

Water in mountain refuges is generally supplied from springs and rainwater collection. Use it sparingly.

Eating is a communal affair at a mountain refuge

Some mountain refuges may have the luxury of solar-heated hot water but many will just have cold water flowing from the taps.

Where hot water and <gasp> a shower is available, keep it short as you won’t be the only one needing to use the precious supplies.

The dormitory rooms contain sleeping platforms up to 3 levels high on which individual mattresses, up to five of them, are laid side by side.

We always advise people to take earplugs as there’s always the risk that there’ll be a snorer in your bunk room!

A base sheet, pillow and blanket/duvet will be provided but you should take your own sleeping bag liner.

Food in the mountain refuges

Lamb ragout hearty mountain refuge food

Evening meals are a ‘sit down at the communal table and get stuck in’ convivial occasion at which requests for special diets are generally not met with a positive reply.

The type of food provided will vary from refuge to refuge.

At some, dinner may be a basic but hearty affair comprised of a starter (maybe a ‘potage’ or soup) followed by a meaty casserole, then some cheese and a dessert.

There’ll always be plenty of ‘stodge’ such as bread or rice to fill you up and wine or beer will usually be available.

Homemade bilberry tart from foraged bilberries

Other mountain refuges go the extra mile and delight in creating the most delicious mountain fayre from foraged items such as bilberries and wild raspberries.

They may make their own cordials and liqueurs as well as scrumptious homemade tarts and desserts.

Food provisions may be brought up from the valley by mule or may be flown in by helicopter.

They will invariably include local hams and cheeses and other such scrummyness .

We know which refuges in the area do the best food and will make recommendations based on where you will be based for your adventures.

How you can enjoy the mountain refuge experience

We are delighted to collaborate with all of the guarded mountain refuges in the area.

Horses lakes and flowersIf we are creating a custom adventure trip for you which includes multi activities and you would like the night in a refuge experience we will make all of the necessary arrangements for you.

Those of you who have booked one of our multi day hiking holidays in the high mountains of the French and Spanish Pyrenees will already be looking forward to the mountain refuge experience.

Likewise, book our ski touring adventure to the highest peak in the Pyrenees this winter and you’ll enjoy some of the finest mountain refuges that the area has to offer.


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A night in a mountain refuge essential information





28th July 2017
Stunning views, fresh mountain air and detoxing from technology, it sounds glorious.
28th July 2017
It's pretty good for the soul, Shone :-)
27th July 2017
This Looks like a great way to enjoy some time up among the beautiful scenery of the Pyrenees. Great tips and info for those looking to try these mountain refuges.
26th July 2017
What a wonderful experience to detox from electronics and stay in a mountain refuge. Not sure I like the communal bunk sleeping but to connect with nature sounds so inviting. Thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel
26th July 2017
Indeed, if you like your privacy then the communal sleeping arrangements would not be for you! But I find that being immersed in such an amazing environment more than makes up for that inconvenience :-D
24th July 2017
It's one of the best ways to explore the mountains is to hike from one mountain refuge to another. We've done it in the Swiss alps and in the Argentinian Andes. The Pyrenees are yet planned for the future.
24th July 2017
You are absolutely correct, Marcelle! All of our guided hiking holidays involve staying overnight in various refuges in France and Spain. They are understandably popular. You can see more information about them here -
24th July 2017
This looks like pure bliss!! Mountains are stunning and I love the scenery but until now, I have never considered a mountain retreat! As a scuba diver, we stay on remote islands with communal dining, sleeping and cold showers and people wake early for morning dives so I am used to that way of life 😀 Thank you for educating me on this awesome experience, pinned! #feetdotravel
24th July 2017
Thanks so much for your comments, Angie. Wow, scuba diving and staying on remote islands sounds like quite an experience too!
23rd July 2017
What an incredible experience, would love to do this. thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel
23rd July 2017
Thanks for commenting :-) It is indeed quite an experience and the refuges are always in such spectacular settings in the mountains!
23rd July 2017
What a great experience! Whilst I'm not big on hiking, fascinating to see pics and read all about a mountain refuge, I think I always assumed you would have to 'rough' it. Looks like you had a good time, and absolutely amazing landscapes!
23rd July 2017
Thanks for your comment. These catered refuges are actually very well-equipped. But many also have winter quarters that are permanently open and which are much more basic and in which you do indeed rough it. The landscapes in these parts are indeed stunning, aren't they!
22nd July 2017
I've been telling my husband I want to stay in a mountain hut in the Bavarian Alps now forever and he always asks whhhhy... because of the peace and solitude and nothing but the sounds of cow (bells) and birds! #feetdotravel
21st July 2017
The views are breathtaking! Just realized I've been to the Pyrenees many times but somehow always in winter! The refuge looks nice and there should be so many awesome places to hike nearby! Thanks for sharing the details, you gave me a new idea for my summer vacation! #feetdotravel
22nd July 2017
Thanks for your comment Anna. Yes, the mountain refuges are always a great base from some amazing hiking and there are so many of them scattered throughout the Pyrenees. Delighted to have given you some vacation inspiration!

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