When we told the kids that we will be spending the night at an alpine refuge, spending some time outside watching the stars twinkling, and sleeping all together in one room, then the excitement level is always high. And so it was, when we announced our visit to the Refuge de Solalex on a winter’s day.
The Refuge de Solalex is located in a charming mountain pasture at 1460m altitude, where ragged mountains such as the The Miroir d’Argentine and the Diablerets Massif stand high and reach to the sky.
This is the Cergnement valley, easily accessible yet so rough.
Being at the Refuge de Solalex gives you the feeling of having ventured far and beyond, although it is easily reachable from the villages of Gryon and Villars in the canton Vaud.
How to get to The Refuge de Solalex ?
For the whole family it was super easy to access The Refuge de Solalex on foot via a 3km path from the car park in Cergnement – Gryon.
Neither our GPS nor Google maps showed us this place, but it recognised the street name. Type in “Route de Solalex 123, Gryon” and that should do the trick. You can also try on google map “Parking de Cergnement”
When you arrive at the car park in Cergnement, you will see the sign indicating NO parking overnight. Don’t worry, The Refuge de Solalex has thought about that. Just before the parking, on your left you will see a PRIVATE sign with space to park 3 cars along the road. This is where you can leave your car without a problem.
Along the beautiful Cergnement Valley and into the forest is a snow-covered path parallel to the snowshoeing and cross-country ski tracks. The Refuge de Solalex also offers a pick-up with their 12-seater snowmobile. This transport option needs to be booked on advanced.
If you want to surprise the family, why not book a place on the dog sledge. This will get the kids excited.
We chose the old fashioned way of walking 🙂 And as we had to rebuild a broken snowman on the way and check out in the video the cool igloo we found, the time to reach the Refuge de Solalex was a good 1h30.
The path is not particularly difficult but it is an uphill journey and you will cover a 300m ascent in the 3 km. The end part is the steepest. Again, take your time as there is really no rush to get up to the refuge.
Arriving at the Refuge de Solalex
Exiting the forest you arive at the legendary Solalex mountain pasture.
The alpine cottages a few hundred metres away contains the Refuge de Solalex.
Just check out these massive peaks all around you. Simply amazing and apparently a climber’s paradise.
We also have been told that during the summer months, this open alpage space is covered with cows, pigs, goats and sheep. Cannot wait to see this.
The Refuge de Solalex is not just a place to eat and sleep. It is much more than that.
Groups and families alike are welcome and the upmost is done to accommodate your needs.
Sleeping at the Refuge de Solalex
If you are a large group the whole place can be booked so your party can go on until early morning if you wish. And the only
complaint may come from the fox that checks the place out regularly.
The Dormitories of the Refuge
A cosy and cute accommodation for nine people with private bathroom. Bedding is provided.
The Dormitory of the Goats
A U-shaped sleeping arrangement for eleven persons on the upper floor of the stables. Heating is available for winter stays if needed. The facilities are within the restaurant for this accommodation. Bedding is provided. A little extra during the summer months, the goats are sleeping beneath you. 🙂
The Refuge Rooms
In the same building as the restaurant on the upper floor is a bedroom for 4 persons and another double bedroom. Both of these rooms share a bathroom with the owner and as always bedding is provided.
Visiting The Refuge de Solalex as a large group
We figured out that le Refuge de Solalex would also be great to celebrate a birthday or any other family or business events.
With place for 160 persons sitting simultaneously you can invite quite a crowed. But also, for smaller groups there are three other alpine rooms and they can welcome 40 persons each.
New to the Refuge de Solalex is the wine cellar, where meetings or tastings for up to 20 persons are possible.
The staff offers to shuttle your invitees up and down with their snowmobile.
What do I need to bring to The Refuge de Solalex ?
The honest answer is not much. All bedding is provided and as you are outside most of the time you are visiting the Refuge de Solalex, you do not really need a change of clothes.
Hiking up to Solalex in your ski gear is most definitely the best solution.
All we had in our small backpacks were;
- Fresh underwear 🙂 fresh socks, a small toilet bag with the absolute minimum inside. I brought one spare set of thermals for the kids, just in case one of them had an accident.
- The kids where allowed to bring one cuddly toy each and I made sure we had some drawing pens and paper with us. We all slept in our thermals. It is ok for just one night 🙂
The Heart & Soul of The Refuge de Solalex
When we spoke with Martin the owner he explained that the heart and passion is the “cuisine”. And if you see their menus and prepared plates you will understand.
Local dishes are the specialties of the refuge, the famous raclette cooked over the wood fire, the Vacherin Mont-d’or AOP cooked in the oven or the tomato fondue. You will find something for everyone.
We went for the traditional cheese fondue in front of the crackling open fire. Everyone was content and happy.
Sledging down from the Refuge de Solalex
After a lovely mountain breakfast, it is time to make our way back down and the best way is on a sledge.
You can borrow the sledge directly from the Refuge de Solalex. I heard they have 60 available, therefore I am sure you will be able to get one as well. But maybe to be sure, call up and ask.
As you are most probably departing in the morning, it should still be quiet and pretty safe. Just keep in mind you are sharing the path with pedestrians, skiers or maybe even Huskies.
When we sledged down from The Refuge de Solalex, it was quite fast as the air was still cold, which made it super easy to cover ground even on the flatter areas. Maybe a good idea to bring the helmets.
If you have borrowed the sledges from the Refuge de Solalex, make sure you leave them at the Creperie before the car park or by the snowmobile.
Our Thoughts on this Family Experience at the Refuge de Solalex
Well, it was an unforgettable few hours in harmony with my family. Away from it all with limited internet, so we disconnected for a good 12 h.
The nature at the pasture of Solalex is amazing and we even saw Chamois and apparently the fox came and visited during the night.
I definitely recommend a family trip to the Refuge de Solalex and if possible stay the night.
Hiking Map for The Refuge de Solalex
How the map works: Click on “Learn More” to get to the full map layout with profile and interactive route indicator.
Location:: Gryon to Solalex
Length:: 3.3 km one way
Level:: easy – hiked with kids of 5 years
Highest point:: 1460 m
Ascent 198m / Descent 198m
Tips & Suggestions
- Apparently, out of Covid time, this place gets really busy. Therefore, if you wish a quiet experience like we had, call the team and ask how their evening restaurant reservations are and maybe visit on a week day rather than over the weekend.
- My only other suggestion is, make sure to visit the Refuge de Solalex 🙂 you won’t regret it.
- You can get a sledge from the Refuge de Solalex directly.
- You will see at the parking area and again when arriving at the top of Solalex, that sledging is not permitted. We were quite surprised as well, but found out the following. The refuge team don’t want large groups, that are not refuge guests, sledging on the main path as the snowmobile is shuttle up and down the Refuge guests. And it is a caution to prevent any accident.
If the guests are leaving by sledge they will know and pass on the message to the chauffeur.
You may also like these activities in the area of Canton Vaud
- Ormont-Dessous, Les Mosses – A family Hike to Lac Lioson – Lioson Lake
- Villars-Grion – Les Diableret-The Perfect Family Winter Resort
- Château-d’Oex, A family Weekend with Activities
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when planning your Perfect Family Experience at the Beautiful Refuge de Solalex in Gryon
If I have left anything out or you have a question, please ask your questions in the comments below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries also.
Martin, from the Refuge de Solalex has hosted us for the trip, thank you again for the wonderful experience!