In France there is a multitude of superb granite and limestone cliffs.
My love of French rock climbing is well over twenty years old, and I offer introductory courses on single pitch routes, and guided ascents of multi pitch climbs.
Here are a few of my favourite areas to climb – I can help to arrange airport pickups and suggest accommodation for all of these areas.
Chamonix and la Haute Savoie
In case of bad weather, when the wind is coming from the North-West, which can be the case in Chamonix, there is Italy. In a little over one hour drive from Chamonix, just south of Aosta in the area around Arnad, Italy, there are numerous great climbing cliffs with a sunny dry option!
This quiet little valley was not climbed up to 20 years ago. It is a Jurassic superior limestone rock formed in pockets. I find it is the perfect place for an introduction to rock climbing. It offers a fantastic selection of routes from beginner to top level (4a to 8c). We park very close to most of the routes (the road is very quiet and it is used mainly by cyclists). The climbing is undisturbed, except occasionally by birds and other wildlife. At lunchtime, we can cool down in the river and climb again in the shade after a pleasant break.
Orpierre is a rock climbing “Gem”. A beautiful quiet village surrounded by cliffs. Situated in the Southern Alps. One of the most northerly rock climbing venues of the South of France.
Climbing at Orpierre is generally very relaxed. There are 8 limestone cliffs, with different orientations. So one can either climb in the sun or in the shade depending on the season. There are over 450 climbing routes at Orpierre. Varying from 15m to 180m in height. There are all grades of climbs and many of the French grade 5 & 6. All very well equipped with fixed protection financed by the Orpierre town hall. There are single pitch climbs which are prefect for working on one’s technique and multi-pitch which are fun adventures. All on very good quality rock!
Orpierre is also ideal for a long weekend. From an early morning flight to either Geneva or Lyon, one can expect to be on the rock in the afternoon. Ideal times for a climbing adventure at Orpierre are April to June and then September and October – mid summer can be too hot. One can easily spend 4 or 5 days here – it is an ideal choice for a long weekend climbing break. There are a large choice of places to stay: camping, gites, either self-catering or with half board or a hotel just out of the village.
The «Grand Canyon of France», with its unforgettable ambience and stunning views, is full of beautiful and impressive routes of up to 300m. Even with a minimum of climbing experience, a near novice with guidance and instruction can enjoy a climbing adventure in this vertical playground. When climbing in the Verdon, we stay at a local gîte. The ideal period to climb in the Verdon is in the spring and autumn.
The beautiful Calanques are situated on the French Mediterranean coast between Marseilles and Cassis. The climbing in the Calanques is very varied from single pitch bolted climbs off the beach to multi pitch trad climbs accessed by sea level traverses. It is a great place to have a climbing vacation! The ideal period is spring and autumn
Other areas might include Briançonnais or Vercors.