2. PHOTO ESSAY: A week in Franceby Andreh Sep/2009
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After a few days, I took a train to Fontainebleau where I met my Czech friend, Petr and his young son, Jan. What a magical place Fontainebleau is. Hundreds of sandstone boulders in a completely flat forest, each one with a soft sandy landing - this is truly paradise for boulderers.
After a day in Fontainebleau, we moved on south, in search of our friend Anile, somewhere in the rugged mountains of the Ardeche. After driving through the afternoon and for hours into the night on impossible narrow and twisting mountain tracks, we eventually came literally to the end of the track, and there was Anile's father's house. The most remote house in the most remote village in all of France! Wonderful.
After a day or two in the Ardeche we moved on to Orpierre, a magical medieval town squeezed in between the French Riviera and Provence in the Haute Alpes where time stood still and all shops firmly display "Fermé" for the afternoon siesta. If my sketchy French can be trusted, a sign in the town says that the place has been inhabited since the 12th century.
The climbing in Orpierre was good, with the exception of some polished routes, mainly the easier routes of easier than F6. It is a very popular climbing destination for us mere climbing mortals, for whom a clean ascent of a F6a is a noteworthy achievement while the elite go to the nearby Ceuse. The landscape in and around Orpierre is spectacular and regardles of polished routes and the (sometimes) congested crags, I will go back there but not before I have fulfilled my obligation of a speedy return to Paris.