Authorโ€™s note: This is a continuation on my series of trekking La Vanoise National Park in the high Alps of France. To see all posts in this series,ย click here.

There was definitely something in the air during our hike to the Refuge de la Dent Parrachee. Between endless giggles and childish jokes, nothing seemed to keep us from laughing. Our overall giddy mood was utterly contagious and unending. Often times like these are the best memories of an entire trip.

Approaching our refuge for the night. We were in for a real treat.

Mark told us that a worker at the refuge was from Nepal. Apparently he spent his summers here working at the refuge and lead French trekkers to Nepal the rest of the year. I was delighted to see the all too familiar Buddhist prayer flags soaring gloriously in the sky. The backdrop of the Alps made it even better.

Mark with his Nepalese friend and of course an after hiking beer in hand.

The two unused toilet bowl brushes had safely arrived at their new home and were initiated with a silly photo by the three of us, me feeling sad to be getting rid of the brut of so many jokes.

It was time for a hot shower followed by an apres-hike bottle of wine. Vin de Savoie was of course on tap. The outdoor cocktail lounge provided the perfect view to relax and reflect on yet another beautiful day hiking in the Alps.

I finished my afternoon ritual of fresh, cold water washing and hung my items to dry in the crisp mountain air.

The entrance to the refuge. I liked the hiking boot addition to the architecture.

The view from the Refuge de la Dent Parrachee was spectacular with two dramatic blue lakes delighting the eyes.

I think this kind of photo is becoming a bit of a trend for me.

The communal outhouse for tout le monde! I was thankful that they had windows.

We had an unexpected surprise that evening which only reinforced our giddy moods. Somehow Mark managed to get the permission and keys to the “Refuge de la garde” (a separate building used only by the park guardians). For the first night in three days, we had our very own place for the five of us! We were delighted!

The refuge de la garde, a private building that we managed to have all to ourselves for the night! No more 40 people in a room!

Our chalet for the night, all by itself. It had no electricity but I didn’t care! It was dreamy after sleeping in a room with 40 strangers.

Meanwhile the sun was beginning to set and it was time for more cocktails with some of our newly made friends, a German man trekking all the way to Nice and a pair of French mountain climbers rising at 4 am to rock climb up the edge of a nearby peak. The 4 am wake-up and strenuous climb did not stop them from drinking endless shots of Genipe, the local liquor.

Mark and one of the French mountain climbers, partying it up.


Drinking genipe like no tomorrow (notice my dad is included in the group, on the right side).

I was the smart one and passed on the genipe. I detest hard liquor even if it is the local custom, I just can’t drink it. Instead I stuck to Vin de Savoie. I would realize the next morning that I made a wise choice. I was the only one without a pounding headache.

As the evening rolled on and the sun cast her glorious spell over the mountains, my camera continued to click away. I couldn’t resist capturing this amazing night on film. It was utterly breathtaking.

And I took many, many pictures…..

As the sun dipped behind the Alps, it was time for bed in the Chalet de Garde. I could barely contain my excitement for a relatively peaceful night’s sleep. Around midnight, I had to use the loo and grabbed my flashlight to head outdoors. There I was, in pitch darkness, save a million twinkling stars above my head. What a day this had been.


  1. Three cheers for a room alone! Beautiful photos and yes, the glass of wine engulfed by gorgeousness is a great repeat photo. I always try to snap a photo of my husband and son as they walk ahead of me. It’s a fun tradition.

  2. Stunning photos Nicole! They made me remember just how beautiful the French Alps are. I especially like the prayer flags against the mountain backdrop – two cultures coming together in a most spectacular way! You made the right decision with the genipe, too. Some colleagues of mine who llive in France made me try some once. I can stomach the roughest Austrian schnapps, but I was beaten by the genipe on the first sip. I don’t know how the French drink it!

    1. Thank you! Yes you are right, two cultures in one. Great point! I’m glad I didn’t get sucked into the genipe. They pour it for you everywhere but I just knew it would make me sick. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know I offended endless hosts but oh well….better safe than sorry, right!

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