Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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每年一次，我的家人继续在比利牛斯山脉，山脉横跨法国和西班牙进行为期一周的暑假。我们住在避难所，传统的山间小屋（或宿舍），提供山区生活的基本必需品 - 食物和住所。今年，而不是做一个避难所避难圈的，我选择了一个为期一周的停留在一个单一的避难所。避难瓦隆Marcadau具有一流的避难所所有的特点：在四个冰川山谷的基地，方便前往步道和运行低于其窗户一条清澈的河流壮观的景色。那么，为什么是它分崩离析？
Surprisingly, Refuge Wallon Marcadau is on a renovation waiting list that keeps getting postponed year after year. I didn’t know that and as a result, did not realize just how rough and old-school this refuge would be. Don’t get me wrong, I love rough and old-school. I do, I do. However having some background explains why the Google reviews are all over the place — either 1/5 or 5/5. We went in blindly and came back in love with the area. The building may be falling apart without the bare necessities of modern life, but Refuge Wallon Marcadau is a hidden gem.
Websites for Pyrenees refuges are notoriously clunky and true to form, Refuge Wallon Marcadau has gone the extra mile in adding pizzaz to the UX with
It’s like a burrito website – three websites wrapped into one! When I booked in June (for an August stay), I started with my usual refuge checklist. Since there as no description of住宿选择我点击相册标签,看看dorms looked like – found not a single pic inside the building. Even a Google search was mysteriously unproductive. To make up for this gap, I’ll give you a few room pics below.
关于什么betway经典老虎机餐饮? Some比利牛斯山的庇护是著名的食品的质量，与当地农民和酒厂合作。关于避难瓦隆Marcadau，谷歌评论是好坏参半，从严厉的去（the food was almost inedible and cheap – it seemed to be packet mashed potatoes and packet sausages）to ecstatic (我的生命大了最好的食物！驴携带食物弥补那些想知道）。该网站是最小的：“热食全天（预约晚餐）。”怎么样，帮助知道哪些食物的选择也有？再次，我要填补这一空白，并给你下面的美食体验清晰的概念。
Why some bureaucrat at the Commission Syndicale de la Vallée Saint-Savin (organism that runs the refuge) thought they would do without info on rooms, food and basic facilities is beyond me.
Despite the website UX fail, this refuge is really worth persevering.
Undeterred, I booked on the Spanish language website – 5 days for my 79-year-old dad, my 11-year-old nephew, my husband, my 14-year-old daughter and myself. Funny enough, the Spanish booking website lists hot showers and hot water in the facilities tab.
Yeah, right. They clearly have pranksters on staff.
Of course, we didn’t realize our mishap until we reached the refuge after three hours of walking in the mist on a fire trail. The walking was easy, one of the easiest access routes to any refuge we’ve ever stayed at and to make it even easier, we hopped on a mountain gondola for the first 100 m of elevation gain. It was not really necessary but it was fun for the kids and brought smiles on my nephew’s face.
The 1930s three-storey Chalet included two large communal rooms with wood stoves downstairs, two luxury bedrooms with washbasin and bidets, a dozen standard rooms without water on the first level floor and on the second level, three big dormitories under the roof. It’s quite likely — though only my guess – that standard rooms were later partitioned into smaller bedrooms with bunk beds and that the two luxury bedrooms were converted into group rooms with bunk beds – rendering the presence of bidets useless if not socially awkward. As far as I could see, the 1963 extension is currently off-limits.
The refuge’s history is no less intriguing. During WW2, it became a base for French resistance youth groups that went into the mountains under cover of leading Christian and nature expeditions. In fact, many Pyrenees refuges facilitated escapes from France into Spain and north Africa which, when Goering discovered the plot, led to the Cauterets valley being completely banned. Still, illegal mountain activities carried on until France’s liberation in 1945.
By and by, thermal tourism declined, snow sports tourism took off painstakingly and summer tourism became a thing for baby-boomers.
Upon our visit in 2019, we found out that Refuge Wallon Marcadau is due for a massive overhaul (full demolition except historical facade, full reconstruction) and it’s possible that my description bears no resemblance to the place you discover when you visit but what the heck.
这不是每年我们呆在一个破旧的refuge about to be demolished, complete with peeling paint, asbestos warning signs and creepy bidets.
Communal rooms are where people get together, eat, play board games and read. At dinner time, the refuge wardens switch on stylish ceiling lamps and fire exit signs. As you can observe, tables are quite close together which serves the greater social purpose of getting to know your neighbors — whether or not you wish to.
我检查了后，一名年轻女子给我们留了两间卧室楼上 - 卧室＃12，2人卧室和卧室＃4，3人卧室。真的，两间卧室到自己呢？超级火上浇油！
Well. Both bedrooms were worn out, stuffy and dirty. As both bedrooms looked out on the back of the building, we could easily see where cows grazed which was cool.
我的爸爸，我的侄子，我的丈夫分享了＃4，显然是旧豪华房 - 洗手盆和浴盆都裹着厚厚的黑色塑料和胶带。
… another 4-person bedroom (note the bunk bed elegantly blocking one of the two windows), and…
When you’re hours away from the closest city and you’ve spent a day outside, food becomes a real motivation. At Refuge Wallon Marcadau, we were half-boarders which entitled us to breakfast and dinner.
Here is what we ate during our stay:
Few refuges can claim their own Spanish-style chapel but Refuge Wallon Marcadau certainly can. It emerges above a hill looking down on the refuge and is strikingly picturesque.
I couldn’t find much info on the chapel and it’s really rare to find chapels in remote valleys of the Pyrenees, so I asked the wardens. They replied: “It is currently used for the yearly August 4 pilgrimage to La Grande Fache commemorating a miracle. A reminiscence of Lourdes?”
I found said miracle. In October 1941, a woman slipped while climbing the snowy slopes of La Grande Fache (3,006 m/ 9862 ft), the local big summit. Her ice axe broke and she almost fell 200m off the exposed ridge, only miraculously surviving when the strap of her ice axe got caught between two rocks. To thank God for her survival, the climbing party erected a chapel to the Virgin Mary of Lourdes on the summit of La Grande Fache. It still stands there, a lonely concrete shrine somewhat incongruous at the top of a mountain.
Anyhow. Every year on August 4, hundreds of people converge to the chapel to celebrate a French-Spanish Pyrenean gathering created in 1942 after this “miracle”. A local priest celebrates mass in the chapel and the next day, blesses walking sticks, ice axes and ropes before people climb La Grande Fache.
My 14-year-old daughter is part of her school’s board game club and when she arrived at Refuge Wallon-Marcadau, one of her first reactions was to check on their collection of board games. Like hostels, refuges offer a variety of board games for people to borrow but more often than not, they are old and incomplete.
By luck, it looks like someone at this refuge is very clued up about modern board games as they had7 Wonders，Ticket to Ride（欧洲版）和Catan一个mongst others. Imagine my daughter’s joy! Of course to be on the safe side, she had brought Exploding Kittens in her backpack so that kept us busy one evening but the following nights, we used the refuge’s board games. By miracle, they were complete and in good condition! By an even greater miracle, a young man noticed us playing 7 Wonders, we invited him to join our table and it turned out that he had interned at a board game store and was quite the professional. His younger sister, an even fiercer player, joined us too and we spent a great evening playing 7 Wonders and learning killer strategies to win the game with their family.
我喜欢这个避难所被设计的方式，就是这么老套，他们推动人类互动 - 这是互联网已经大大降低。
说到魔鬼。我们已经习惯被连接在我们的城市生活24/7，当你没有在所有的任何互联网覆盖率达到的地方它作为一个文化冲击。由于没有我们的手机有过任何服务，我只是在5天期间关掉我的电话，并有一个可爱的时间做的事情，不需要屏幕 - 写在我的日记，拍照，聊天，读书。
I want to praise the quality of service we received at Refuge Wallon-Marcadau. During our first evening meal, my daughter had to walk outside to settle down as she was getting overwhelmed by the noise of conversations, the close proximity to so many people and the smells of food. I mentioned it to the young woman who was servicing our table, saying that my daughter likes it more quiet, when she wondered why my daughter had left our table. Note that I didn’t request any special treatment.
在接下来的日子里,我们在separat被放置e table far from “loud” tables whenever possible, which really improved our experience tenfold. Not only was my daughter happier but my dad, who’s hard of hearing and uses hearing aids, was finally able to hear the table conversation and join in. Honestly, I’m very grateful to how considerate the staff at Refuge Wallon-Marcadau were to our particular situation and on several other occasions, they were very helpful. Theirs is not an easy job but they do their best to make guests happy.
For anybody concerned that staying a week at a place without hot water or showers is a problem, think again. How about immersing yourself in the crystal clear waters of a mountain-fed stream? In a few waterfalls perhaps or a lake? How about connecting with nature like you’ve never done before?
For us who love cold water swimming, the total absence of modern bathrooms was a golden opportunity to indulge into what we love doing on a weekly basis. Each day, we found quiet spots on the river to bathe and used an eco-friendly soap to wash. Even my father, who’s not a big fan of cold water, motivated himself to get in the river once and waded in almost every lake that we stopped at. Here I am emerging from my first “wash” in a stream. Do I look happy or what?
土拨鼠 - 不提几十个毛茸茸的邻居漫游山丘周围避难的这份报告将是不完整！土拨鼠，如果你愿意。看看那个可爱的脸。如果你听到山上口哨的声音，它可能是旱獭说话“的掩护下大家！”显然，这是他们如何沟通，不久他们的哨子后，就不难发现一个大型啮齿动物跑起来还是下山。爱是爱土拨鼠。
我希望你喜欢读它，你会考虑访问避难所瓦隆 - Marcadau，前或拆卸后，享受比利牛斯山的这个美丽的一部分。