France is truly blessed with 2 world class climbing areas; from the mountaineering and rock climbing around Chamonix and Mount Blanc; to the bouldering in the forests of Fontainebleau. However there are many other excellent rock climbing areas in France, some of which are described here. Coupled with the excellent wine and scenery, France is a great place for a rock climbing holiday.
Avignon - To the northeast of Avignon there is a large rock climbing area with over 50 separate crags offering everything from single pitch sport routes to multi-pitch routes on good quality limestone rock.
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 sport 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.
Chamonix - As well as the traditional mountaineering routes around Mont Blanc, there are many pure rock climbing routes particularly lower down in the valley, on fantastic Granite rock.
Corsica - Corsica offers an abundance of beautiful bolted rock to climb, from coarse weathered granite rock, to sandstone or limestone rock. There is climbing all over the island, from single pitch routes to multi-pitch routes up to 300m long, plus many bouldering areas.
Dijon and Beaune - The area of Bourgogne (known as Burgundy to the English) is well known for its fine wine. Here you will also find a series of good quality limestone crags that offer mainly single pitch sport routes. There are over 50 separate crags in this area, including 19 major ones offering many 1000's of sports routes across all grades.
Fontainebleau - The forests of Fontainebleau offer the best bouldering area in Europe, on superb sandstone rock! The unique circuits that have been developed here are colour coded that lead you from boulder problem to boulder problem. This area is huge with many classic sites such as Trois Pignons, Bas Cuvier and L' Elephant to name but a few.
Ecrins and the 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 and multi pitch crags, plus an extensive bouldering area as well.
The French Pyrenees offers an enormous range of rock climbing and mountaineering. Some of the sport climbing crags include Superpene, Pene Haute and Sinsat, while there is some excellent granite bouldering at Targasonne.
Verdon - The stunning Verdon Valley with its steep limestone crags offers a fantastic range of rock climbing and sport climbing. Some of the routes are very committing as you have to abseil into them and set up hanging belays, and are often multi-pitch. Other routes are accessed from the bottom of the valley, which are generally single pitch sport routes.
The Gorges du Tarn is a beautiful limestone gorge situated in the south of France, northwest of Montpellier. This is a large rock climbing area with over 400 routes, however the crag is often overhanging and therefore the majority of the routes are F6c and above. These are generally good quality single pitch sport routes, which are well bolted.
Les Calanques is situated in the far south of France on the Mediterranean coast. This limestone mountain range spans from Marseille to the pretty little town of Cassis, 20km to the east. 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. The range is divided into 8 main rock climbing areas and each has its own distinct atmosphere. In total there are around 2,500 bolted sport routes and around 1,000 traditional routes.
North Eastern France has many crags along its border with Luxemburg, Germany, Switzerland. In particular there are a large number of rock climbing areas around Strasbourg, Belfort, Metz and Nancy. The type of climbing found here tends to be single pitch sport climbing routes on limestone rock. The France East Roc 2 guidebook covers these areas and is available to buy from our shop.
Kerlouan is situated on the north western tip of France, just north of Brest. Here there are 14 miles of pristine coastline, sandy beaches and lots of granite boulders. This place is idea for mixing a family holiday and doing lots of bouldering. There is a wide range of grades from Font 4a's to 8a's, with many of the landings on flat sandy beaches.
The Rock Climbing Atlas for South Western Europe & Morocco describes the rock climbing at Orpierre, Fontainebleau, Verdon, Les Calanques and Gorges du Tarn in France.
This useful book describes the different crags, number of routes, style of climbing, how to get there, where to stay, and general information about the area, though it doesn't describe any individual routes. As well as France, the book also includes information about Italy, Sardinia, Spain, Malta, Portugal & Morocco. Buy this book from our shop.
Buy rock climbing guidebooks for France from our shop.
Climb Europe stocks guidebooks that cover the rock climbing all over France including those around Avignon, Chamonix, Dijon and Bourgogne, Verdon, The French Pyrenees and the excellent bouldering found at Fontainebleau.