Mountain Project Logo

Planning a trip to France July 9-19: recommendations?


Original Post
Ely Fish · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0

Hi All. A friend and I are gonna be in France this July. We're definitely going to hit Fontainebleau but we're also looking for some good single-pitch sport climbing destinations. What are some of your favourite spots? Relatively cheap hostels nearby are ideal as lugging camping equipment across the Atlantic isn't gonna happen. We climb in the range of 5.10-11 but are hoping to work on some 12's as well (dunno how that works in French grading!) 

evan h · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 310

I'm not entirely sure, but I don't believe Font is in prime season in mid-summer. Ceuse is a popular sport spot in mid-summer, but while there are options in the 5.10-11 range, it really starts to shine at 12 and up. There are lots of housing option in Sigoyer or surrounding villages, but not necessarily hostels (I could be wrong on that). Check out Airbnb. There are other lesser known spots, but that's the one I can vouch for. 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,659

There are hundreds of good single pitch sport crags in France. Almost none of those are within three hours drive from Paris. So your first mission is to choose a direction to flee from Paris.

Best bets are SW or SE or S. I best know SE.

This summer likely to be hot hot, so likely want to choose high altitude. If you'll have a car, then the Briancon area fits that, with a variety of interesting rock types.

Also in that region are multi-pitch bolted routes, and good Via Ferrara routes, and good alpine routes.

Ken

TJW · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 25

It will be super hot for climbing in the south (Verdon, Aiglun, Calanques ) 

I would try something at higher elevation / Alpine. Orpierre near Gap is beautfiul.

There is lots of cragging near Briancon which is also a very nice. 

6a =5.10b

7a= 5.11d

duncan... · · London, UK · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 25

Fontainebleau will have "bad" conditions if you're aiming to crush Karma but still hugely enjoyable if you're not grade chasing. I'll be there at the end of July like most years. 

Ceuse is the obvious choice but might be getting quite busy. It's well worth visiting if you're climbing 5.11(~6c), amazing at 5.12 and up. Other French options include the Verdon Rive Gauche (north facing), St Antonin, parts of St Leger, crags around Annecy (Ablon) and the Vercors and Ecrins generally. 

Frankenjura (not France obviously, but not far away by US standards) is also good then. As is, dare I say it, some great trad. climbing not far north of France...

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

Following through on what others have said, it would be helpful if you posted a bit more about your general itinerary and 'flexibility'--for instance do you plan on renting a car or will you be travelling on public transport? France is a good-sized place and 10 days really isn't that long a time--especially if you spend a good percentage of it driving from one part of the country to the other. You mention climbing in Font, which indicates that you plan on spending time in Paris--and are likely flying in and out of there. As Duncan says Font, while not ideal will still be perfectly reasonable--unless it is raining--in July. It really is a forested area so many of the problems are well-shaded. Do get yourself a good guidebook, especially one with good maps because it is a very extensive area and it can be hard to locate some of the main areas. There are also some quite worthwhile crags within a couple of hours of Paris--such as Saussois and the other Burgundy crags, however they tend to be extremely hot during the summer. However, by chasing the shade (and having a lucky cloudy day or 2) it is still possible to get some climbing in between checking out the various wineries and other interesting things that abound in that region. Continuing further south (there is virtually no climbing north of Paris and very limited to the west) distances get longer and temperatures get hotter. It takes the better part of a day or more to reach the main climbing areas in southern France from Paris and to find climbable conditions you need either altitude or some place north-facing. I would not think it worth the drive, especially with such a  limited number of days, to most of the areas in Provence or the Cote d'Azur at that time of year. Instead I'd suggest some of the many areas in the alpine valleys, either the Chamonix/Annecy region or the Ecrins area (Briancon, Ailefroide). Ceuse and Verdon Rive Gauche are great but a good bit further and harder to get to from Paris. There are usually plenty of lodging options in all these areas.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,659

Of course you're much closer to lots of summer climbing if you fly in and out of Geneva (GVA) instead of Paris. The Geneva airport straddles the border of France + Switzerland.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 13,812

Font should be ok just about year 'round, although spring/fall are the most preferred seasons.  Can hit 30C in the summer there.  

If you're flying into CDG, take the TGV to Grenoble then seek the higher elevation crags for fun.

Presles is a good option.  There's gite's to rent nearby that can be way affordable (in all of France for that matter).  Having a car is a bonus.

Have fun!

Ely Fish · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions folks! We are indeed planning on renting a car. The reason we were looking in the vacinity of Paris is that I'm gonna be at a wedding thereabouts for a couple days before we start climbing. We're both flying into and out of Paris but we were expecting that we'd have to drive somewhere regardless.

Based on suggestions I'm starting to think it might be better to skip font entirely and just go straight to chamonix or Switzerland, but I'm open to other ideas.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 13,812
Ely Fish wrote:

Based on suggestions I'm starting to think it might be better to skip font entirely and just go straight to chamonix or Switzerland, but I'm open to other ideas.

Not if you want a cheap hostel...ha ha...

Ely Fish · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0
Brian in SLC wrote:

Not if you want a cheap hostel...ha ha...

Mmm...fair enough.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,659
Ely Fish wrote:

I'm starting to think it might be better to skip font entirely and just go straight to Chamonix or Switzerland.

I'm confused.
The mountains of SW France have as much higher-altitude sport climbing as Switzerland. Perhaps with a wider variety of rock types.
Chamonix is famous for Trad alpine climbing.

Switzerland is usually significantly more expensive.
And not known for having better sport climbing (or better alpine climbing).

I like to fly in and out of the Geneva airport, but only as a quick way to get to SW France.
Note that the fast interstate highways of Switzerland require a special toll "vignette" which only comes in an Annual-fee purchase cost (even if you're using the Switz interstates for only one day).

Nowadays there are some good sport crags near Chamonix (also some mediocre ones) -- but no more so than around Annecy an hour away, which was recommended in this thread. Or Briancon which was recommended more than once for higher-alt sport crags - (and tends to have more sunny days, and a new English/French language guidebook for Sport-climbing).

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply