panneau Bienvenue au refuge Estagnous


Built-in 1912 by the Touring Club de France at the initiative of the Saint Gironnais tourism group, this shelter-refuge was then used by mountaineers ascending Mont Valier and by izard hunters.

During World War II, it served as a relay for escapees fleeing Nazism along the now famous “Freedom trail.”

In ruins, it was taken over by the Tourist Office of Saint-Girons and restored voluntarily by local mountaineers. It has been open to the public and staffed since 1978.

During the years 1997-2000, it was renovated and expanded by the Castillonnais community of communes. Since 2017, the Couserans Pyrénées community of communes has been managing it.

The Mont Valier gets its name from Valerius, the first bishop of the Couserans in the 5th century, who according to legend was the first to climb this mountain, placing a cross at the summit. Bernard de Marmiesse, also a bishop of the Couserans in the 17th century, had a marble cross erected there. The last one was installed in 2012 by the Friends of the Pyrenees Ariégeoises Regional Natural Park after the granite cross placed in 1987 was destroyed by vandalism in 2011.

The Team

We are two guardians, Stéphane since 2001 and Laurent since 2007, partners in managing the refuge. The team also includes up to three employees: Vincent, Christian, and Felix this year.

Let’s not forget the network of mountain enthusiasts who lend a hand voluntarily for the opening and closing of the refuge, as well as for helicopter transports…

We live up there to welcome you, prepare meals, ensure your safety, maintain the building, and help you discover the mountains…

Being a refuge guardian is a very demanding and versatile job!


At the refuge, supply conditions are difficult and costly, with limited storage and energy, but we create generous mountain cuisine with as many local and organic products as possible.

We also accommodate special diets if we are notified early enough.

Different meals are prepared every day to be served the same evening…

There’s only one serving time for everyone! At 7:00 pm!

Guided Tour

You just arrived at the mountain refuge “Les Estagnous.”

Introduce yourself to the guardian(s) and go over the “welcome procedures” (obviously, you have reserved in advance)…

After resting and enjoying an exceptional view, proceed through the entrance hall to settle in…

Following the guardians’ advice:

  • take a tray to store personal belongings that will go into the refuge, the rest of the bag will stay in the entrance…
  • remove your hiking shoes and put on the clogs/Crocs instead…
  • join the guardian inside, so they can set you up in the dormitory…
  • take a brief tour of the premises to familiarize yourself for the evening… (don’t forget to bring a headlamp!)
  • lastly, don’t miss dinner time…
Vie du refuge - préparation du salle à manger © Alain Baschenis

There’s only one serving time for everyone,

at 7:00 pm!

Spirit of the Refuge

chien gardien du refuge Estagnous

We welcome you with maximum comfort at the best price in a collective and friendly spirit, despite the constraints of isolation and altitude (limited energy, goods transported by helicopter)…
But what a delight it is to admire the view from the terrace, to marvel at the integration of the refuge into its environment, or to enjoy Pyrenean cuisine made from local products.

We hope you have a great time in this mountain corner and share the spirit “from above,” its customs and practices, as well as its rules.

Laucrent et Stéphane

Download the rules of procedures : Règlement intérieur

Around the refuge