Magazine Les 3 Vallées

Take me back to the nature!


You might not think it at first glance, but the mountain refuges in Les 3 Vallées conceal many a hidden treasure. Often nestled on the edge of the Vanoise National Park, they are the perfect base from which to explore the region and enjoy the many activities in the diverse landscapes, combining glacial peaks, green mountain pastures and contrasting lakes.


Refuge de Gittamelon

A childhood retreat! Nestled in the hamlet of Gittalemon (Les Encombres Valley), the refuge was created by Marc Jay in his family’s old alpine pasture chalet. Everything, or almost everything, is as it was back in the day: the chalet houses both the kitchen and bar so the chef can chat to his guests while preparing the meals, the barn has been turned into a dining room, and even the old cowshed has been converted into dormitories and washrooms.
Access: 🚘 from St-Martin-de-Belleville, take the road for Le Châtelard – Vallée des Encombres. Park at Les Frachettes, a 30-min walk from the refuge.
✔ Hiker’s menu (12 €)
✔ Evening speciality menu (20 €)
✔ Night (12 €)
✔ Half board (35 €)

+33 (0)6 63 78 75 28
🖱 Website

Refuge du Lac du Lou

Situated at an altitude of 2,000 metres at the edge of the Lac du Lou on the way to the Col de la Vallée Étroite mountain pass, this refuge is often busy due to its easy access from the resorts of Les Menuires and Val Thorens. The refuge has recently been renovated and hikers on the Grand Tour de Tarentaise often stop here as well.

Access: 🚘  from Les Menuires, park at the Plan d’eau des Bruyères and follow the path to Lac du Lou, 1hr walk.

Prices: per night (12 €).

+33 (0)6 12 20 61 44/+33 (0)4 79 24 20 81

Refuge de la Traye

Put the image you have of traditional refuges to one side… created in 1982, la Traye was entirely renovated only recently to offer a truly exceptional experience. On completion of the refurbishment, a new style of hospitality was born; La Traye is the first high-end refuge in the French Alps, unique and unusual, it is brimming with mountain chalet charm, as refined as it is authentic.

Access: 🚘 from the car park (Méribel Le Villard): 90-minute walk. Altitude gain from the nearest car park: 450 metres.

☎ +33 (0)4 58 24 04 04
🖱 Website

Refuge Plan Lombardie

Just 15 minutes from the village of Saint-Jean-de-Belleville in the Tarentaise Valley, the refuge Plan Lombardie perches up at an altitude of 1,764 metres in the heart of a wild and untouched valley, at the foot of the majestic Cheval Noir mountain.

A warden is on site from may to october, but even outside of these dates the refuge is accessible providing a room with six beds and a kitchen/dining area.

Access: by foot, follow signs to the « Cheval Noir », Vallon de la Platière. (40-minute walk maximum).

☎ +33 (0)9 82 12 43 08

Refuge des Lacs Merlet

Situated in the Vallée des Avals, in the heart of the Vanoise National Park and just a stone’s throw from the Merlet lakes (the upper lake is the deepest in the Vanoise), this refuge is like a breath of fresh air for mountain lovers. Accessible all year round, the warden offers a half board catering service for those who wish. It is an ideal base for the numerous hikes in the area or fishing spots in the Rateau, Pêtre and Lower Merlet lakes…

Access: from Courchevel, via the Vallée des Avals or La Pyramide (Courchevel Moriond).
From Méribel, via the Col de Chanrouge.

☎ +33 (0)6 62 39 72 69
🖱 Website


Refuge du Grand Plan

Situated in the Vallée des Avals on the edge of the Vanoise National Park, the area is ideal for hiking, rock climbing (several bolted rock faces), mountain/e-biking, fishing, exploring the Vanoise National Park… The landscapes are varied, from the glacial peaks of the Mont Blanc massif to the green pastures of Grand Plan and the many lakes dotted around. The refuge offers overnight stays
in dormitories or small bedrooms, as well as quality cuisine at lunchtime and in the evening. There is also a quiet corner to relax in, and a selection of books and games.

Access: there are several possibilities depending on the season, your physical fitness and the time available. From Courchevel via the Vallée des Avals or the Col de la Platta; from Méribel Mottaret via the Refuge du Saut and the Col de Chanrouge.

+33 (0)6 89 84 08 52
🖱Site web

Refuge du Saut

Recently renovated, this beautiful refuge is situated at an altitudeof 2,100 metres in the Tueda Nature Reserve on the edge of the Vanoise National Park. Easily accessible in just two hours by foot, the route is rich in fauna and high-altitude lakes…. In addition to the surrounding mountains, take time to visit the old Saut mine, which was exploited for 20 years until 1778. According to the sign near the refuge, twenty-five German miners and as many Italians mined the silver lead lode over 400 metres of galleries and shafts. The extracted ore was particularly rich (11% silver and 18% lead).

Access: from the Plan de Tueda car park (Méribel-Mottaret) go to the Lac de Tueda and on to the chalet/refuge along the footpath. Continue up the valley towards the Chalet du Fruit on the summer path. Once you have reached the Vallon du Fruit, continue up towards the Chalet de la Plagne. Carry on, staying in the valley, passing between the narrow opening of the “grand diners” rocky outcrop that leads onto the Refuge du Saut.

+33 (0)9 74 77 60 38 / +33 (0)6 60 43 29 89

Refuge du Trait d'Union

His haven of peace nestles at an altitude of 1,725 metres, in the heart of the mountains. Easily accessible, head there for lunch on the terrace, take a relaxing break or enjoy a well-being stay. The owners offer a choice of «yoga», «naturopathy», «sophrology» and «self-care». A big thumbs up from us!

Access: take the D117 from the village of St Marcel, then follow the path close to the bus shelter and the Belleville garage. 45-minute walk to the refuge. From Les Menuires, take the Balcon path which leaves from the Brelin quartier. 2-hour walk to the refuge. Free shuttlebuses connect St Marcel to the other villages.

+33 (0)7 70 28 85 77
🖱 Website

Refuge du Christ

Located in the Allues Valley at an altitude of 1,650 metres, the Traye Plateau remains a protected area. The refuge, set in the heart of this alpine setting and close to the refuge de la Traye, enjoys magnificent views of Mont Blanc, Mont Jovet and other surrounding peaks. A genuine back to nature experience…Acces : by foot or with a joelette single-wheel mountain wheelchair (90 mins / 2hrs) from Le Villard des Allues.

Access: 🚘 from the car park (Méribel Le Villard): 90-minute walk. Altitude gain from the nearest car park: 450 metres.

+33 (0)6 95 73 20 90


Illustrations: Séverine BRÉCHET

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