Climb Europe
Climb Europe

Rock climbing in Southwest France and the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees Mountains form a natural border between France and Spain, and in the foothills of these mountains there are many excellent sports climbing, rock climbing and bouldering areas. Further inland to the north of Montpelier there are a number of excellent sport climbing areas including the famous Gorge du Tarn.  Generally the rock here is usually very good and well bolted.

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.

Map of the rock climbing and bouldering areas in Southwest France and the French Pyrenees

Map of the rock climbing and bouldering areas in Southwest France and the French Pyrenees

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 Bloc France bouldering guidebook includes the Prieure bouldering area near LodeveOther bouldering areas in South Western France

Le Prieure offers Fontainebleau style sandstone bouldering, which is located just outside of the town of Lodeve near Montpellier. The bouldering is situated in a beautiful and wild oak forest, and is accessed easily via a two-minute walk-in from the car park.  There are over 200 documented problems, with scope for many more, which are generally in the Font 5, 6, and 7th grades. 

Most of the problems are on low sandstone boulders with flat sandy landings, though there are some very high boulders.  At an altitude of 400m the best time to climb here is from October through to April.  The Bloc France guidebook details over 200 problems at Le Prieure, and is available to buy from our shop.

Sport climbing in the French Pyrenees

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

The Ariege rock climbing guidebook covers the sport climbing around Foix in the French PyreneesMany 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 spring and autumn.

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.   Buy both of these guidebooks from our shop.

Gorge du Tarn rock climbing photographs

The photograph above shows one of the many steep overhanding crags at the Gorge du Tarn.

Read an article by Ethan Walker describing his amazing climbing experience at the Gorge du Tarn.

Sport climbing in Southwest France

To the north of Montpelier there are a number of excellent sport climbing areas including the famous Gorge du Tarn. 

The Gorge du Tarn offers excellent steep and overhanging routes that will test stamina of the very best climbers.  These long single pitch routes are best suited for climbers who climb at F6c and above, though there are a limited number of climbs below this grade.  Just around the corner from the Gorge du Tarn, is the Jonte Gorge.  The Jonte Gorge offers both traditional and sport climbing, with many multi-pitch routes. Here there is a good spread of grades, particularly in the lower to mid-grade range, with routes up to 150m long. 

Other large crags include Le Cirque des Gens and Le Boffi, which both offer hard single pitch sport routes, ideally aimed at climbers in the F6b and above.  Alternative larger crags with a good spread of grades in the lower the mid-grade range are Seynes and Orgon.

A good selective guidebook describing the sport climbing to this area north of Montpelier is called Languedoc-Roussillion by Rockfax.  Amongst others it includes Gorge du Tarn, Gorge de la Jonte, Le Cirque des Gens, Le Boffi, Seynes, Thaurac, and Orgon.  Buy this guidebook from our shop.

Gorge du Tarn rock climbing photograph – Bar-bitturique, F8a Gorge du Tarn rock climbing photographs – Le spectre de l'ottokar, F8b+ Gorge du Tarn rock climbing photograph – Le Puerta de Sol, F6c Gorge du Tarn rock climbing photograph – The Tennessee sector Cantobre rock climbing photographs – V02 Max, F8b

Click on the thumbnail images opposite to view a larger photograph showing the excellent rock climbing to be found in the Gorge du Tarn and Cantobre, in southwest France.

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Read an article by Ethan Walker describing his amazing climbing experience at the Gorge du Tarn.


The Languedoc-Roussillion rock climbing guidebook covers the sport climbing at Gorge du Tarn

The Languedoc-Roussillion rock climbing guidebook covers the sport climbing at Gorge du Tarn.

Buy this guidebook from our shop.