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International > Europe > France > Northern Alps > Massif des Ecrins


Briançon is a pleasant town of about 14 thousand people in the southern French Alps. The tourist motto of the town is "La ville qui grimpe", or "The City that Climbs". Because the area is closer to the Mediterranean, it's drier, and supposedly averages 300+ days of sunshine per year. We were there a month (June into July), and the weather definitely exceeded expectations. A completely unexpected bonus in early summer were the wildflowers, which were just incredible in color and variety.

Anything you might want for a climbing expedition is here, as there are several gear shops and guide services. There is an indoor wall, and a really nice aquatic center for rainy or rest days. There is a lifetime of hiking to do, as well as whitewater river stuff, via ferrata, and mountain biking.

In terms of climbing there is just an insane amount, on quartzite, granite, limestone, and conglomerate. I didn't really count but I'd guess that the number of routes within an hour's drive of Briancon is in the range of a couple of thousand.

This section is organized around the book Briançon Climbs by JJ Rolland et al. My impression is that there is much more climbing than what is covered in the Rolland guide, which focuses principally (but not exclusively) on single pitch bolted cragging. has quite a bit of information on this area by the way, especially in terms of the locations of the crags, which is sometimes difficult to decipher from the Rolland guide.

Getting There

Decent two lane highways from multiple directions. Note that as of this writing the road from Grenoble via La Grave is closed for tunnel construction. From the north, going over the Col du Galibier will not save you any time (likely will cost you some) but takes you through some extremely cool Alpine terrain.