Climb Europe
Climb Europe

Rock climbing and bouldering in the French Pyrenees

The Pyrenees Mountains form a natural border between France and Spain, and in the foothills of these mountains there are many excellent sport climbing, rock climbing and bouldering areas. Generally the rock here is usually very good and well bolted.

Rock climbing areas in the French Pyrenees

No Crag Type of climbing No of routes Grade Range Popular Grades
1 Superpene/Pene Haute Sport 213 3c to 8c 5c to 8a
2 Calames Sport 185 4 to 8b+ 6a to 7c
3 Le Carol Sports 51 3+ to 8a 6b to 7c
4 Sinsat Sport 168 3c to 8a 5c to 6c
5 Alliat Sport 125 5 to 8b 6b to 7c
6 Auzat Sport 184 4 to 7b+ 5 to 6c
7 Orlu Bouldering No Info available
8 Targasonne Bouldering 421 Fb 3b to 8b Fb 4a to 6c
9 Cavallers Sport 220 4- to 8a 5c to 7b
10 The Gaves Valley Sport and Trad 1,000+ 4 to 8b 5 to 7b

Map of the main rock climbing and bouldering areas in the French Pyrenees

Map of the main rock climbing and bouldering areas in the French Pyrenees

The above information has been extracted from various guidebooks for the area, which are; Ariege from Rockfax that concentrates on the area between Foix and Andorra; and Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves that covers the crags between the towns of Lourdes and Gavarnie. All of these guidebooks can be bought from our shop.

Bouldering at Targasonne

The best place for bouldering in the Pyrenees is at Targasonne, known locally as “The Chaos”, and is located close near the town of Font Romeu on the border with Spain near Andorra.  The granite boulders scattered along the Pyrenees mountainside have been developed into the second best bouldering area in France (after Fontainebleau) and offer a good range of grades to suit everyone. The bouldering consists of plenty of slabs, walls and overhangs, with the rough granite providing good friction. The boulders themselves are between 3 and 4m high, so bouldering mats are essential though the landings are usually very good. 

The bouldering at Targasonne is at an altitude of over 1,600m, which means the best time to visit is from late spring until early autumn. For accommodation there is a campsite called “La Griole Camping” that is situated within “The Chaos” or there are plenty of gites to rent in the area.

The Ariege rock climbing guidebook covers the sport climbing around Foix in the French PyreneesSport climbing in the French Pyrenees

The Ariege region of southwest France between Andorra and Foix provides an extremely varied array of climbing areas.  There are different types of rock including limestone, granite and gneiss.  The different styles of climbing include short overhanging crags, steep single pitch and multi-pitch sport routes, to long bolted slabs in the mountains up to 20 pitches long. 

Many of the crags are relatively small, with only Superpene, Calames, Auzat, Alliat and Sinsat offering over 100 routes each.  However all of these larger crags offer a good range of grades. The majority of the crags are situated to the south of Foix, along the Ariege River, and it is easily possible to climb at different venues during the same day due to the short distance between them.  The best time to visit this area to climb is in the spring and autumn.

The Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves covers the climbing around Lourdes and GavarnieIn the western French Pyrenees to the south of Tarbes is a large climbing area called The Gaves Valley, which is one of the widest valleys in the Pyrenees.  Here between the towns of Lourdes and Gavarnie there are many crags such as Pics d’Espade, Sarradets, Larribet and Cauterets that provide in excess of 1,000 routes across a wide range of grades.  These crags offer everything from single pitch sport routes to long multi-pitch routes in the mountains, with many of these between 200m and 300m long.  The majority of the routes are sport though there are some traditional routes as well.  The Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves guidebook covers this area, which is available to buy from our shop.

Guidebooks for Rock Climbing in the French Pyrenees

There are a couple of selective guidebooks covering the sport climbing in the French Pyrenees.  Ariege from Rockfax concentrates on the area between Foix and Andorra, and includes Calames, Auzat, Alliat and Sinsat along with 21 other smaller crags. Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves covers the crags between the towns of Lourdes and Gavarnie, including many long multi-pitch routes.   Buy these guidebooks from our shop.

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The Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves covers the climbing around Lourdes and Gavarnie

The Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves covers the climbing around Lourdes and Gavarnie

Buy guidebooks for rock climbing and bouldering in the French Pyrenees from our shop.