An accessible, high mountain refuge that caters to families, with a truly varied ascent from grassy fields, ridge walks, snow covered patches (névés) & rock climbing, in the most stunning backdrop.
This walk enabled the kids to feel like they have well and truly gone “into the wild”.
The depart starts from the Col des Annes at 1721m altitude, approx 12km after the village of Le Grand Bornand.
There is a reasonable sized car park nestled behind a farm and a few mountain restaurants. We met our friends here at 16h00 enabling us time to gently walk up to the refuge and get there in time for an aperitif and dinner. Our group included 4 kids aged from 5 – 9 years of age. The kids did really well. The walk isn’t too long but it is steep in places, so kids do need to be decent little walkers and have the right incentives. We find hiking with friends works well & food ;-). The path leads straight from the car park up to the Tête des Annes 1869m (the top of a ski lift in the winter 😉). You can access this either via a large track, a 4×4 could go up or via a little path that is slightly steeper on the left-hand side which winds up through an abundance of wild flowers (we took this option for its sheer beauty & the kids prefered it off the beaten track). At the top of the tête des Annes the views are stunning and there are a few pic-nic benches/tables if a water stop is needed.
The path then leads on to the Col de l’Oulletaz (1925m), following a beautiful path with some much-appreciated shaded areas along a beautiful ridge. Younger kids need to be escorted on the ridge (especially in wet weather). After a short descent down towards a grassy area, we refilled our water bottles with icy water fresh from the melted snow. The walk then starts climbing up through different sections interspersed with limestone rocks, snow and grass up to the refuge, which can be seen frequently nestled between the snow and rock.
The Refuge de la Pointe Percée/ Refuge du Gramusset – A REAL mountain Refuge
The refuge is based at 2164m altitude. The refuge itself is quite an austere building, lacking much traditional Alpine charm as you approach. Upon arrival, you are greeted by a harsh metal face that feels like it seen many a storm, adding to the adventure 😉 It can only be described as a REAL mountain refuge, originally built in 1928 and added to over the years.
However, once around the front of the refuge, the terrace and its stunning views distract from the building itself, which admittedly also has more charm too. The views and the backdrop are simply stunning and take your breath away. The terrace was basking in sun upon our arrival and we quickly joined a crew of other alpinists, hikers etc. in a drink on the terrace to soak up the views, both down the valley towards the pastures and up towards the Pointe Percée itself. Meanwhile, the kids played in their new found mountain playground, around the refuge between the rocks with the refuges’ dog “Dynamite” (a lovely gentle dog that must have been a bit faster in its youth to warrant such a name).
The refuge is under new management this year, I believe, and is staffed by a lovely team of three people who were super friendly and welcoming.
The refuge can sleep up to 45 people. Our group of 8 were lucky enough to have our own dorm, which we were very happy about with the kids. (I did also notice another dorm for 4 just off from the main eating area too which another family had). Our assigned dorm area, is the area which is left open all year for alpinists in the winter etc. The room was perfect for us and functional with a large wooden table and benches meaning we ate in this room too. There were 6 beds on the bottom meaning us Mums slept interspersed between the kids whilst the dads were designated to top bunks 😉.We had all brought sleeping bag liners to sleep in alongside the pillows and duvets which are provided by the refuge. We all slept well.
Hearty Mountain Food
The food was fresh, copious and mountain style. Dinner entailed a delicious, hearty vegetable soup and crusty bread, followed by an even heartier polenta with diots cooked in red cabbage, local tome cheese …all topped off by rhubarb crumble. Yummy…
Facilities – Into the Wild
The toilets were proper refuge toilets, (holes in the ground dropping down onto the mountain!) located outside the refuge, slightly lower than the terrace of the refuge, accessible by clambering over a few rocks. The children were quite fascinated by the toilets!! My daughters were still talking about them several hours after we got home. Luckily none of the kids needed the toilet in the night 😉 Please note there are no showers and limited access to water. We all brushed our teeth on the terrace via a small container of water. It is also necessary to take away all rubbish you have.
The Return Trip:
After a decent nights sleep and breakfast, we headed on home. The weather was stunning and we were even treated to a helicopter rescue (fortunatey not our group and not serious ). The decent was just as beautiful as the ascent and the kids literally skipped back down singing …Happy days!
Upon arrival our friends enjoyed lunch, overlooking the Pointe Percée at one of the farm restaurants by the car park whoose speciality is beignets de pomme de terre – a local take on potato fritters ! We headed on home to pick up our youngest mini adventurer ;-), unaware of what awaits her in a few years time!
For our first proper refuge as family, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and will defintely plan more. Watch this space 😉
All practical info & contacts can be found below. Don’t hesitate to give me your feedback.
– Access : 12km after Le Grand Bornand. .Traverese le Grand Bornand on the D4E. At “Les Plans”, turn left on to the road to the Col des Annes. In the busy months parking may be more difficult
– Opening period : (where the refuge is “manned” with a team ) : From 29th June to mid-September and then just on a weekend until the end of October. Please note the maximum capacity is 21 when the refuge is not manned.
– Facilities: There are no showers, toilets inside the refuge, running water, sinks etc. You need to bring your own sleeping bag liners. Matresses, duvets & pillows are provided. Animals are not allowed – apart from the owners dog Dynamite ;-).
– Bring WARM clothes. There is no heating and the refuge is 2164 m altitude :-).
– Caution : walking for kids from 5/6 years old (approx 2hours to walk with youngsters subject to their age/motivation/breaks. It is indicated as 1.5 hours without kids).
– 2018 PRICES Half board ( for non members of the FFCAM) :
- 47,20€ for an adult (Breakdown = night 17,90 €, evening meal – 21 €, breakfast 7,50 €, Tourist Tax 0,80 €)
- 31,65€ for a child -18 years (Breakdown = night 9,85 € , evening meal – 17 €, breakfast 6 €, Tourist Tax 0,80 €)
- UNDER 8’s SLEEP FREE
– CONTACTS :
- Refuge de la Pointe Percée / Refuge du Gramusset www.refugelapointepercee.ffcam.fr /
- Mobile (Marie) : +33 (0)6 15 35 36 63
- They only take bookings by phone and you have to indicate if you need meals when you reserve. There is the possibility of a pic-nic too for 10 €/per person.
- Payment is preferred by cash or cheque. They did have a credit card machine too though.