This post is a continuation of my series on hiking the Tour de Vanoise in France. This post follows the post “Our Last Night in the Alps at Refuge Peclet-Polset”. To read it, click here.Β 

As I always like to say “All good things come to an end”. Today would be our last hike in Vanoise National Park in the French Alps. It had been a glorious hike with lots of spectacular views and over 800 sensational photos to prove it. Yet, I was really ready to get back to civilization and get a good night’s sleep!

Our last refuge. I should have known it was going to be trouble.

Our final night in a mountain refuge was brutal. I had mentioned in my earlier post that this refuge was accessible via car for part of the way and then a short hike after the road ends. Unfortunately that meant the clientale was not the normal hikers who know and understand the protocol. Instead, it meant lots of day-trippers and families looking to experience the novelty of sleeping in a refuge in the mountains yet didn’t give a damn about the rest.

As the sun set the clouds blanketed the Alps. It looked a little threatening. Perhaps this was a sign of the night to come?

Our terrible night began around 10 pm when most of us tired hikers were already tucked inside our sleeping sacks in our bunks sound asleep. The room to our dorm burst open and a group of about 15 rowdy, misbehaved kids burst in sounding like a herd of wild animals. The lights came on, waking us out of our sleep (you go to sleep early in the mountains as you are exhausted after a long day of hiking!) and the onslaught of noise and goofing off began. After several failed attempts by the lackadaisical parents to get the kids to calm down, I finally had to burst out in my frustrated, angry French telling them pretty much to be quiet. Β It worked for about five minutes until I heard giggles and giggles bursting into laughter. Meanwhile the parents did nothing.

Another night of close quarters. Our room pictured here had enough bunks for forty people and were very close together, something that is not ideal for a bunch of children having their first sleepover in the mountains.

FInally an hour later, I yelled at them again. I don’t like to take over parenting someone else’s kids but as a parent myself and relatively grumpy by that point, I had to do it if anyone wanted any sleep. Thankfully they quieted down probably thinking I’m a big meanie. But at least we got some sleep, all forty of us.

Another unspoken rule inside the refuge is that the window inside the large rectangular room must be open at night, no matter how cold it is. Otherwise the room turns into a stinky, sweltering sauna.

The window was right next to my bunk (I chose it that way) and we had it open to start. Sometime during the night I awoke completely drenched in sweat. My hair was dripping wet, my blankets felt like they had been thrown in a lake and the air inside was like being in the tropics. I turned on my mini flashlight, glanced over through the soggy air and saw with dread that the window had been shut and was completely fogged up! How dare they!!!!

Annoyed, I crept out of my bunk, opened the window and placed my backpack against it so it couldn’t be shut without waking me. I left to use the loo and when I opened the door of our room to step out into the hall it was almost a 20 degree temperature difference!

Finally, around two or three am I fell back into a restless, hot night’s sleep. I was glad I’d have at least a few more hours of sleep before breakfast. But oh no….around five am the room came to life and the wild children woke up only to wake us all again. Lights flashed on, blankets flew and backpacks were emptied onto the floor. For the next twenty minutes or so they kept us awake and then thankfully left us in peace. I fell back to sleep hoping it would be the end of it but I was wrong. An hour later they stormed back in, waking us all again, to pack up their stuff and leave. Why on earth they didn’t do it the first time is beyond me. I guess they just wanted to make sure I’d never want to stay in a mountain refuge with forty strangers again. Grrrrrrr.

When I went to breakfast I was happy for once because at least they had Nutella!

I was really ready to get back to civilization. Thoughts of a warm, toasty bed thrilled me. We had another gorgeous day in the Alps and a short four hour hike back to town with a brief stop at a traditional cheese factory. Then a shower all to myself, clean clothes and best of all, some peace!

Setting off… revoir refuge!

Stay tuned….


  1. Gosh, Nicole, that really does sound like a miserable night. Hard to imagine parents allowing children to behave that way when other are trying to sleep. Looking forward to the next chapter.

    1. I loved the hike but must admit that I didn’t like sleeping in the refuges. I am a light sleeper and really found it hard to sleep in one room with so many people, sometimes up to 40! The kids were the straw that broke the camels back, right! Too bad because there are so many really awesome hikes in the Alps but most are done by refuges. Not to say I wouldn’t do it again. I’d probably rather just carry a tent though than sleep like that. πŸ™‚

  2. Doesn’t sound like an ideal night πŸ˜€
    Don’t blame you for yelling at them Nicole! You should have yelled at the parents as well!

    1. Isn’t it really good! I bought it for awhile but had to stop because I kept eating it on graham crackers and felt like it was a bad habit. The kids love it too though. I really love crepes with nutella and bananas too…my favorite! πŸ™‚

  3. Hello Thirdeyemum, what a nightmare those children….. they probably thought they were somewhere like Butlins…. and you are my kind of woman, Nutella all the way! πŸ™‚ what beautiful place to hike!

    1. Thanks! I bet my children would have behaved equally as badly but I’d never bring them somewhere like that unless I had them under control! πŸ™‚ As for Nutella, I can’t even buy it anymore as I eat the whole can….it is so nummy! πŸ™‚

    1. Wow, that is truly amazing!!!! Thanks for sharing! I have over 800 pictures from this trip. A few turned out really well in my opinion but I’m not a professional photographer, just someone who loves to take photos and loves to travel! πŸ™‚

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