The southern France areas of Provence and Cote D’Azur provide many excellent rock climbing and sports climbing areas, including Verdon, Buoux, Ceuse, and Les Calanques near Marseille.
Verdon - The stunning Verdon Valley with its steep limestone crags offers a fantastic range of rock climbing and sports climbing. The area is famous for its committing starts that involved an airy abseil to the start of the main multi-pitch routes and the setting up of hanging delays. Other routes are accessed from the bottom of the valley, which are generally single pitch sports routes.
Buoux - The rock climbing at Buoux has produced many cult lines and is on a mixture of limestone and sandstone rock, offering technical climbing, short roofs, and steep overhangs, all with lots and lots of pockets.
Ceuse is often described as the best sports climbing crag in France. Well Ceuse is certainly blessed with beautifully pocketed limestone rock, outstanding lines and a magical location. The majority of the routes are single pitch and the rock climbing various enormously from overhanging jug feasts to steep technical walls.
Les Calanques, situated between Marseille and Cassis, is one of the largest rock climbing areas in France. The climbing is enormously varied with technical slabs, steep overhangs in caves, multi-pitch routes up to 250m long in the mountains, and steep single pitches right on the sea's edge. In total there are around 2,500 bolted sports routes and around 1,000 trad routes.
To the north of Toulon are a series of rugged hills that include Mount Faron and Mount Coudon. These limestone hills provide a large number of crags including Baou de Quatre Ouro, Citerne and the towers at Fenouillet. These crags provide mainly single pitch sport routes though there are a number of multi-pitch routes as well.
The Vallon Sourn runs between Chateauvert and Correns. Situated high above the river Argens are a line of buttresses called Rochers de Bagaredes. These rough limestone crags offer many excellent single pitch sport climbing routes across a wide range of grades. With easy access, sheltered but south facing this crag is very popular.
To the north of Draguignan is the tiny village of Chateaudouble set in a narrow gorge. Here there are a number of limestone crags providing a wide range of sport routes up to 50m long.
To the east of Frejus is the Massif de l’Esterel and to the north is the Gorges du Blavet. The rock in both areas is red granite with a wide range of sport routes up to 65m long.Saint-Jeannet dominates the skyline to the north of Nice. This limestone crag provides a mixture of single pitch sports routes to multi-pitch routes up to 200m+ on the main face, though some of these do require a trad rack. Further east in the hills north of the principality of Monaco, there are a number of limestone crags with mainly single pitch sport routes.
Avignon - To the northeast of Avignon there is a large rock climbing area with over 50 separate crags offering everything from single pitch sports routes to multi-pitch routes on good quality limestone rock.
Durance Valley, Haute Alps - Situated in the southern Alps, near Gap, this area enjoys better weather than Chamonix and is definitely a lot less commercialised. The Hautes Alps offers an amazing choice of rock climbing with everything from classic alpine ascents of all grades to modern bolted routes with both single & multi pitch crags, plus an extensive bouldering area as well.
There are a number of guidebooks that cover the rock climbing and sport climbing found in the southeast French areas of Provence and Cote D’Azur, which can be bought from our shop.There are a number of selective guidebooks that describes large parts of this area. These are:
France – Cote d’Azur by Rockfax. This guidebook describes some of the popular sports climbing areas in the Cote d’Azur region of southern France. In total over 2,700 sports climb across a wide range of grades are described at 10 major climbing areas. These are the Verdon Gorge, Sainte Victoire (near Aix en Provence), Les Calanques (near Marseille), Toulon area, Chateavert (Rochers de Bagaredes), Chateaudouble, Massif del’Esterel (near Frejus), Gorges du Loup (near Frejus), Saint-Jeannet (near Nice), and around Monaco area.
France – Haute Provence by Rockfax. This guidebook describes some of the popular sports climbing areas in the Haute Provence region of France. This is the area to the east of Avignon and south of Gap in southern France. In total over 2,500 sports climb are described at 14 different crags/areas, which are Ceuse, Sisteron, Volx, Orpierre, Bellecombe, Baume Rousse, Ubrieux, St Julien, St Leger, Malaucene, Combe Obscure, Les Dentelles, Venasque and Buoux.
Avignon Soleil by Jingo Wobbly. This guidebook describes a wider number of crags and routes around Avignon than the Rockfax guidebook. Avignon Soleil describes nearly 40 separate sport climbing and rock climbing across a wide range of grades, including the crags of Saint Leger, Venasque, Clapis Face, Saint Julian & Trois Rivieres.