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About France:

1. Paris surroundings, Fontainebleau ; 2. Plains of Champagne, Ardennes... ; 3. Burgondy ; 4. Massif des Vosges ; 5. Massif du Jura and Bugey ; 6. Alps and forealps of Savoy ; 7. Chamonix Area ; 8. Alps and forealps of Dauphiné ; 9. Alps and Forealps of Provence and Côte d'Azur ; 10. Corsica ; 11. North Massif Central and foothills ; 12. South Massif Central with Mediteranean foothills ; 13. Massif des Pyrénées and foothills ; 14. Sedimentary plains of the Southwest ; 15. Brittany ; 16. Normandy. 17. Sedimentary plains of the Center

France is a country located in Western Europe. It is twice as big as Colorado, a little bit smaller than Texas. France has common borders with Belgium and Luxembourg (North) with Germany, Switzerland and Italy (East) and Spain and Andorra (Southwest). France has also long shores on the West (Atlantic Ocean) and South (Mediterranean Sea).
France can be grossly divided in two halfs : the NW half is mainly made of sedimentary plains with few climbing areas while the SE half is full of mountains, either originating from a past volcanic activity or from the surrection of plains.

The Alps as well as the Pyrénées are some young and high mountains with famous areas for the alpinists : the Mont-Blanc area in Savoy (Northeast of the French Alps) or Les Ecrins in Dauphiné (Southwest of the French Alps). Rockclimbing can be done almost everywhere on these young mountains.

The Massif Central is a very old magmatic massif (ie granite!) in the Southcenter of France, with many volcanic domes (andesite, basalt...), providing some nice climbing areas.

Sedimentary areas close to those mountains have undergone major tectonic moves, thus an erection. And who says erection says climbing too! Examples are : the Massif du Jura where the limestone plateaux are often carved by rivers ; the Provence (south of the Alps) with Les Calanques which undergo a strong eolian erosion, or Le Verdon by example ; the long and tall Massif du Vercors being the left border of the Dauphiné (famous areas like Presles), or the prestigious Céüse in Dauphiné as well...

The Vosges (and its German counterpart the Black Forest) are in Northeastern France, over Alsace and the Rhine River, providing major climbing on a red sandstone.

Other areas globally considered as flat have some major climbing areas : Fontainebleau, South of Paris, for bouldering on sandstone boulders left by a now disappeared sea and shaped by rain and wind ; or the area near Angoulême (Southwest of France, see maps below) where Fred Rouhling opened extreme routes on limestone cliffs created by river stream.

France is divided in administrative Régions which are divided in Départements. I decided anyway to organise the crags by bigger geographical areas. You will see that some areas provide a big number of crags while some others provide less climbing places though they are bigger. Here are 2 maps of France, figuring the major areas I created, shown on a geographic map, and an administrative map showing the main cities :

Grades (cotations) are different here than in the USA as you may already know it. Not to mention than boulders are graded with the same scale than higher routes, but for a same grade, the difficulty varies.

When I thought about it, I wrote the type of climbing (bouldering, trad...) next to the area, if it is not sport climbing!

Forum Discussions (3 posts)

  Subject Author Replies Last Post
With Replies France climbing trip heelhookrc 5 Apr 06 2014, 3:13 PM
With Replies Verdon in July dreday3000 1 May 30 2012, 6:21 PM
With Replies The Best General Guide to Europe elwood54 3 Jan 20 2008, 8:35 PM