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Honeymoon Climbing France

Original Post
Daniel Rickert · · Dallas, TX · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 190

I am getting married in May and hoping to incorporate climbing into the honeymoon. As of now we are most interested in going to France. We have ruled out trad climbing in favor of easy clip ups. Both of us climb up to 11a. Multipitch would be cool, but a good selection of single pitch is ideal. Where should we go?

Is the Verdon Gorge a good option for this?

Any other tips and tricks would be appreciated.

Thanks MP!

Rui Ferreira · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 869

I would recommend Cassis as a base and climbing in the Calanques.

This is what we planned for our honeymoon, but the September 11, 2001 attacks prevented us from traveling to France due to the flight cancellations.

We never did go to France for the honeymoon, but ended up living in France for some years and Cassis was one of my wife's favorite places to visit.

The climbing in Calanques is also superb. You can drive to the Verdon gorge in less than 2 hours as well.

Gold Plated Rocket Pony · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 93

My wife and I actually did this for our honeymoon a few years back. Lessons learned:

1. Car camping is rough, rent a gite instead, they are all over the place and awesome, very much like an airbnb

2. Don't leave anything valuable in the car when gone all day. Open up the glove box to show it's empty (hard lesson learned there...)

3. Stores are like never open... seriously, want to go to the grocery store at 8pm, sorry you're out of luck. Want to go to the shop during lunch, nope sorry closed then as well. The 35hr work week is serious over there and you need to plan ahead, not joking.

4. Figure out your GPS/phone driving navigation plan ahead. We started off using paper maps and quickly realized we have been ruined by google maps on our phones and kept getting lost. Finally sucked it up and just started using the phone to navigate around and payed the high bill when we got back.

Ok on to the actual climbing. At least for the locations we visited the grades felt solid to stout. Some were def borderline sandbag but I somewhat expected that given the age of may of the crags.

We did two longer climbs in the verdon, one in the 10+ range and the other in the 11 range. Both were great, spaced bolts but not that bad. For the raps in just make sure you are good with double rope raps (aka lead line + tag line or climb with doubles). Also the vultures are huge and kinda spooky. Word is if you fall to the bottom they'll pick you clean b/f anyone even gets to your body. They are cruising around the walls all day.

Ceuse was amazing. Steep/long hike in but beautiful when you got to the wall. Mostly tough stuff but some stuff in the 11 range.

Buoux more variety here and the town of Apt isn't far away and has a real grocery store. We climbed here for a number of days and enjoyed it. I recall the grades being stout.

Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

We became engaged during a trip to Switzerland and used that as an excuse to return for our honeymoon. The weather wasn't very cooperative but we had a great time anyway. I'm sure that France will be the same.

France is a pretty big country--with expensive toll roads, so you should first decide on what region you want to visit, most, except the north and (with exceptions), the west have plenty of climbing options. Most of the best known rock climbing areas are in the south, especially the southeast, part of the country (Provence and nearby regions). However, by May many of the crags in that area will be getting pretty hot so this will likely effect your choice of venues. I once visited Orpierre in early May and found climbing in the direct sun to be very unpleasant. We were able to spend a couple of days at Ceuse (higher altitude) and that was fine. The Verdon is at moderately high altitude but the most popular faces are in the sun for most of the day (though there are some shady nooks). This is a particularly significant factor on the longer routes where dehydration can be a real issue. However there are many other areas in France that have great climbing, are in beautiful locations, and are themselves or are near wonderfully romantic honeymoon locales. Rockfax has a series of selected climbs guidebooks to areas in southern France that are well-worth checking out for ideas.

Gold Plated Rocket Pony's observations and suggestions are spot on---though being old fashioned I have done fine getting around just using old-fashioned paper maps. Oh, many French speak English but few admit to doing so. Best to try to speak in French as much as you can. Have a great time.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,847
Alan Rubin wrote:the southeast ... by May many of the crags in that area will be getting pretty hot
Yes that's a real concern. And much of the rock around Cassis faces sorta South.
Keep in mind if you go there that much of the best climbing is not in the traditional Calanques, but on Cap Canaille (much of which confusingly but for intelligent reasons, been included in the new Calanques National Park), or (esp for single-pitch) inland crags. And the rock inland tends to be sounder than in the Calanques. Anyway, apart from climbing, the main Calanques are a wonderful hiking / trail-running / kayaking area.

Oddly earlier this year 2016 in May it was remarkably cool, so Sharon and I were climbing comfortably all day long on the South face of Mt Ste Victoire (famously painted in radical new mode by Cezanne) -- and I did some great multi-pitch routes on Cap Canaille and Calanque Morgiou.

If it does got hot in Cassis, need to drive at least two hours north to really escape the heat (or know some good N-facing crags closer).

Briancon area is great region for escaping to cool and dry weather to the north. Amazing variety of rock types for single-pitch sport climbing (with new English-language guidebook). Also multi-pitch limestone, and very popular for bolted slabby granite next to delightful camping at Ailefroide. Also alpine climbing. Also some good Via Ferrata routes. And great road-cycling (not just the famous high passes of the TdF, but the "balcons" along the river valley from Briancon south to Embrun.

Verdon: the main distinctive is run-out committing multi-pitch adventures. And it's in the middle of nowhere.


P.S. France is not such a large country (compared to say California or Texas). Sharon and I routinely drive between the mountains and the sea, chasing dry rock and pleasant temperatures. So many wonderful bases which support both multiple sports and tourism, no need to commit to a single one in advance.
SMarsh · · NY, NY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 3

OK, here's a female perspective.

I see you're in TX, so unless you're going to be in France a lot more in the future, I'd tend to make this a trip that integrates climbing into your plans, rather than focusing on climbing and fitting in other stuff.

Don't camp unless you both find it particularly romantic.

Research what you want and make sure it works for both of you.

Figure out what you want to see. Do you want to see Nice and the Cote d'Azure? If so, then the Calanques are a good choice.

Do you want to see Paris? Find some local crags outside of Paris. I have no idea what's there. All roads lead from Paris, so you'll have something somewhere within range.

Do you want to see the Alps, Geneva, and other stuff in that area? Then look for climbing in those areas.

Are you a foodie? Lyon, Lyon, Lyon. Climb near there.

There are a bazillion places for good climbing. If you add up sport climbing and via ferata (some extra equipment so that you climb rock with set routes and equipment), then you have lots and lots of climbs (in cities as well as on mountains).

Try to get a gite or a rental so that you are interacting with the local populace. The French are generally helpful and glad to oblige.

We have traveled extensively and climbed in France, but our honeymoon was not in France.

evan h · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 320

Although not a honeymoon, my wife and I are leaving for France in 9 days. We are going to spend the first week at Ceuse. I'm the only climber (and my wife is super cool), so I'll do on-off climb and rest day touring of the countryside. The second week is based out of the Annecy area, which allows for all kinds of Alps adventuring and potentially some Lyon eating (no climbing for me unfortunately). The seasons will be different for you though -- May might be a bit of a snowy/muddy time to be in the Alps. Ceuse looks amazing, but may be more limiting if you're looking for 11a and under (known for 12 and up). The Rockfax guidebook has a lot of information on the crags in this region, and it looks like there's something for all grades and seasons as far as single pitch cragging goes.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,847
evan h wrote:Annecy area
Speaking of honeymoon locations.
Lac d'Annecy is one of the prettiest large mountain lakes in the world (especially if there's a little snow remaining on the surrounding peaks in May, as this year). Delightful walking around / shopping / eating in the ancient inner city.

The cycle path along the SW side of the lake is surely a top-10 prettiest rail trail in the world, and riding a bike all the way around the lake on the roads is a favorite for Sharon + me.
. (outranked only by the "balcons du Lac du Bourget" loop an hour away).
. (but perhaps the real cycling jewel of that region is the quiet single-lane roads thru the farms and vineyards, notably S + E from Chambery, also the west side of the Chartreuse, also etc etc)

Less than two hours drive from Chamonix, but who needs that ...
40 single-pitch sport crags with lots of routes at 5.11a or less - within an hours drive from Annecy (some of them virgin unpolished limestone opened just in the last couple of years).


P.S. If you're around the city of Lyon for the famous restaurants and local farm foods, and you're looking for great multi-pitch limestone, instead of longing for Verdon, go to Presles.
. (but remember, for most Euro multi-pitch bring double ropes).
pierref · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

Plenty of good ideas, briancon, annecy, calanques, ...

But IMO, May is not the best period. Rainy, sometimes hot, sometimes cold, already crowdy in south and there is still snow in north.

I suggest september, for maximizing chances of cool and stable weather, wathever the area.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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