Bouldering in Fontainebleau

It’s been a while since I last posted – I’ve since finished my Master’s at Imperial, and am currently on a road trip through France and Spain with my friend. I will be doing more travelling, mainly a 65 day hike through Patagonian Chile (and a bit of Argentina) towards the end of the year, but I’ve got vague plans/intentions to revamp my blogs and merge them all into one. Anyway, since leaving London about a week and a half ago, I’ve passed through Font (as is known in the Anglophone world, but Bleau in the Francophone world…) and the Midi-Pyrenees, Andorra, and am now near Almería, in Spain. Leaving my friend’s place (where there’s a bed and wifi and a proper kitchen!) soon to head towards Granada, and Málaga for climbing. This is just a quick post about bouldering in Font.

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Really bizarre, silty sandy area in the middle of a forest, which is characteristic of Font

I’m not a keen boulderer; I see bouldering more as a necessary complement to improving my climbing, than a joy in its own right. Not a fan of dynamic and powerful moves, with a high chance of shoulder dislocations (my right shoulder had a slight dislocation while bouldering a few years ago) and other injuries. But Font is known to be such a mecca, and friends have commented that even non-boulderers will enjoy Font, that we felt we had to see what the hype was all about. And I must say, it is a pretty cool area, particularly given its proximity to Paris.

As with most climbing areas, the bouldering areas (they’re not called crags are they..) are scattered around, in this case, in the forests surrounding the town Fontainebleau. We arrived in the town with absolutely no idea what to expect, and were somewhat surprised to find out from the Tourist Information that there was just one outdoor shop (S’cape). We rented bouldering mats from them (€8/day, or €7/day for 3 or more days of rental), but realised subsequently that we could actually have rented them from campsites (around the same price) which would have saved us the trouble of going into town. Given its fame in the climbing world, the town doesn’t actually give off any air of outdoorsy-ness.

We got a list of campsites to stay at from the Tourist Information too, and rocked up to one of them that seemed closest to most of the bouldering – La Musardiere in Milly-la-Foret. Wasn’t particularly equipped though, for €21.80 per night (for two persons and a car and a tent) – shower wasn’t really hot, and there was no wifi, or toilet paper. So we moved to a different campsite for the next two nights – Fountaineblhostel Hostel & Camping in La Chapelle-la-Reine. Which, for €31 per night, gave us hot showers, a proper kitchen, access to guidebooks and some really friendly people.

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Roche aux Sabots, Les Trois Pignons.

The first day we spent at the Roche aux Sabots/Cul de Chien zones within the Les Trois Pignons area, near Milly-la-Forest, and the second at L’Elephant near Larchant. I stuck with really easy problems and barely pushed myself, either in difficulty or more fear-inducing exposed or high problems. In the colour scheme of Font, mostly yellows, oranges and some blues. The only route that really got me hooked and would have been a problem I’d take on as a project was Vent Violent 6c at L’Elephant.

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The elephant at L’Elephant.

I much preferred L’Elephant to the other crags we visited, mainly cos the boulders there were higher (about 5m on average, up to 8m maybe?), which felt a bit more like lead climbing perhaps. Though without the safety of a rope. I don’t know if I would really come back again; while it’s been nice and enjoyable, I’m not too much in love with the area (nor with bouldering) to bother doing a trip there again, I think.

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About Jocelyne Sze

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
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