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France help: verdon gorge, chamonix, calanques!
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By jesscole
Feb 18, 2014
I'm struggling on finding internet info on Climbing in France. I have a bunch of guide books ordered but im looking for more help: other forums, blogs, specific books etc.

Im going to the Calanques near Marseille as well as the Verdon Gorge and possibly Chamonix. i'm just beginning in my research so any info would help... on good crags to visit, campsites etc.

any help would be SO appreciated... im looking for the next step in planning.

By RossV
From Lyon, FR
Feb 24, 2014
I live in France and have climbed in the Calanques and some in the Alpes. It's hard to tell you where the best place is and I think it depends on the time of year you'll be traveling. I wouldn't spend much time trying to climb the Calanques during the summer. I would also highly recommend Ceuse and Buoux as destinations if you have time.

I have the RockFax guide books and they work well. It's hard to find forums, blogs, etc. with good beta that are in english, but try camptocamp.org in french. I've also been told to try ukclimbing.com for more information. Send me a message if you have some more specific questions about where to go or stay. Good Luck!!

By Jon H
From Boulder
Feb 24, 2014
At the matching crux
UKclimbing is your best bet for English language forums on climbing in France.

I get the impression you're interested in rock climbing, but I've written quite a bit of info on ice and alpine climbing here on MP. Search for "Cham" and "Chamonix" to find the threads.

By Optimistic
From New Paltz
Feb 24, 2014
+1 for UK Climbing

Ariege is a fun region that's kind off the beaten path, quite a lot of stuff at all grades, from chill single-pitch to some huge multi-pitch, all sport. Would also be hot in summer, I think.

An English buddy of mine has climbed at Ailefroide a couple of times and really liked it, says that it's kind of like Tuolumne, only sport-bolted. There is a ton of other sport climbing around there also. That and Chamonix are going to be much preferable if you are there in summer, if others have said. Col Argentiere (sp?) next to Cham looked cool in the guidebook, although weather shut us down the day we were going to head up there.

By steven sadler
From SLC, UT
Feb 24, 2014
As far as camping goes, you can pretty much just lay a sleeping bag out wherever you want as long as you have a car and can get out on an off road. I was there for a few months this summer and we just slept in the car or pulled off the road and laid out our sleeping bags and pads by the car. Never once had a problem, and it's free.

By kenr
Feb 24, 2014
I'd suggest posting questions to UKClimbing, but with more detail about what kind of climbing at what difficulty you're looking for. Also mention whether you'll have a car (much more expensive to rent and operate than in USA) and how much driving you expect to do -- since my feeling is that UK climbers are skewed a bit toward avoiding driving - (partly because they're not accustomed to driving on the right side of the road?)

My own experiences so far from focusing on the SouthEast quadrant of France (which includes Chamonix + Verdon + Calanques) and using lots of French-language guidebooks and climbing some with French partners ... is that there's lots of fun climbing to be found in places that are not mentioned on UKClimbing or RockFax. (This has to do with the fact that much of the good rock - esp limestone/calcaire - tends to get polished by climber traffic, so finding "fresh" rock is worthwhile).

RockFax guidebooks are definitely good, but really they can only be "scratching the surface" of climbing in France (this is surely true for RockFax coverage of the Calanques and Toulon).

The biggest website I know for climbing info in France is CampToCamp
- often called just "c2c".
I've had success around Chambery + Grenoble finding climbing partners, by responding to posts for partners on the French-language forums on c2c. And I don't speak much French - but I can write enough to make an intelligent response.


P.S. No matter what you've heard about French sport climbing ...
if you're trying a long multi-pitch route with a significant approach, at difficulty somewhere in range of your leading limit, and you dislike getting seriously scared ...
Carry a light Trad rack.
Unless you really know that it's not needed - (and finding that the c2c description says it's "well protected" is not the same as Really Know).

By Ilana Marcus
From Colorado Springs
Mar 3, 2014
Gear testing the Monkee Clothing Women's Ubwuzu Cl...
Hi JessCole,

I have been living and climbing in Europe for the past two years. We loved climbing in the Calanques and more so, the Verdon, trip one and trip two. The links lead you to posts on the respective areas on my website, ThrillseekersAnonymous.com.

Hope this information helps. Feel free to PM me for additional questions.



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