/ Sport, Trad and a campervan
In these hi-tech days, having loads of - or all - worldly goods stashed in the van I'm (perhaps overly) concerned about climbing for hours and leaving the van in some lonely layby/track as it would be incredibly easy to ransack.
So, any recommendations for :
1 Climbing sport 6a and under / Trad HVS and under / multi-pitch
2 Good campsite
3 Climbing within walking/cycling distance
They'll be lookin' for money, mobiles, laptops. Just don't take those or think about an extra effort to stash them away somewhere sneaky. I intend to add a hidden laptop cupboard before summer as part of my on-going DIY conversion. Generally they aren't interested in climbing/outdoor kit. No re-sale value.
Don't worry. Most of Europe is very law abiding, and in most of the places you can pull up overnight there are other camping vans.
Most of the Alps seem pretty safe though. I don't imagine Dolomite passes, for example, are all that bad for breakins (and are good for your requirements 1 and 2!).
1,2,3 are all satisfied by Ailefroide, but If you're going to stay on a campsite then you could just go with a car and tent after all.
Would you really end an alpine trip for the sake of a laptop or camera? The data on them will probably be worth more to you, so have a good backup strategy.
When vanning it around the Alps with AJM I did occasionally worry about my mountain bike, but then I thought, if I'm not going to bring it what's the point in having one?
As already said, its not worth having toys if you don't use them, but ultimately that's all they are.
Even a small camper has loads of places to hide stuff - the ransacker type thief just doesn't want to spend that much time - so a bit of effort can protect most stuff (or at least it feels that way)
There are enough internet cafes etc where you can back up photos etc to cloud type stora
Always have your passport on you (& credit cards)
But, most importantly;
After initially staying on sites I quickly started to park up in layby's etc & felt very safe. Most climbing spots (I was in Cham & Switzerland) usually have other vans in them and a good sense of community.
Best just to hope for the best, not spoil your holiday worrying, but take a few precautions. For example, don't park in a secluded car park where there's broken glass to be seen, or close to towns. Out in the country you're probably fairly safe. We've sometimes eschewed the car park and gone for parking in a visible spot on a busy road.
I'm interested that you're planning to stay on campsites. Most van people do that, I'm glad to say, which leaves less competition for the nice overnight spots. We've spent about 10 weeks in our van in 2012, but only about 1 of those weeks in total was on campsites. We think we've failed if we have to stay on a campsite. Anyone with a bit of initiative and some reasonably large scale maps can find good spots to stop "in the wilds" and though it can be difficult in civilised areas, the sort of places which interest climbers are usually a bit wilder. For example in Haute Provence (a lovely area to visit) there are loads of great overnight spots. I'll give you one (only) for free - the summit of the pass west of Orpierre, the Col de Perty. See this picture http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=184819
Now tell me why you'd want to be on a campsite!
The rules are simple - don't stop within sight of anyone's house and don't make it look like you're setting up camp - arrive late afternoon and leave after breakfast. You can also use a network of Aires de Camping Cars (Google to buy a book) in France and lots of other countries. These are places where you can service your van (water & loo) and sometimes overnight, though they're sometimes rather grotty.
So we chose a van with a 90 litre water tank, a good shower and toilet, and we don't (often) pay camp fees to be with loads of other people.
If you have half as much fun as we've had over the last few years you'll be doing well. Be brave and good luck!
I have yet to hear a single story of vehicle break-in here in Ariège. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but the incidence seems vanishingly small compared to many other areas. I also doubt you would have any difficulty finding overnight parking spots around here where you felt safe and relaxed. A possible explanation is that it has yet to become recognised as a major Euro tourist destination, despite the amazing variety of climbing and other fun things to do. I really hope it never becomes like Chamonix or much of Switzerland.
Beaumes de Venise - good secure site close enough to cycle to any of the Dentelles de Montmirail crags.
Buis les Baronnies - good secure site across the river from town centre. Reasonable bike ride to any of the Buis area crags.
Orpierre - good site within walking distance of Orpierre crags.
I Done a 7 week driving tour around france a few years back and took the Escalade france map with me. Such a gem. it has everything you need on it marks trad/sport/ bouldering and via veratta.... it doesnt however have camp sites on it, in which i just used the climbing europe guide book very vague, but list campsites around all the areas, and gives a brief description of climbing grades within each of the areas.
Tips whilst your out there, Breaking into cars around france is a national sport (So i was told), so save yourself a broken window, we just left the car open and nothing important in the car. Over night we generally camped in carparks near crags, or in some cases we stayed in the parking areas along the roads.. Just make sure your not in an obvious or disruptive place, and leave the place as you found it...
Have a nice trip.
Also - over in Europe people are a lot more van friendly than the UK. If you know how to get away with wild camping in a van in the UK you'll find it easy on the continent!
In answer to your original question, two more venues, walkable from the campsite, with plenty of cragging at your grade are
- Orgon, France (Camping Vallee Heureuse)
- Osp, Slovenia (Camping Vovk)
There don't seem to be as many crags fitting these criteria as you might think (we're always on the look out for them as one (or more) of our teenagers often prefers to stay on the campsite rather than come to the crag.)
Another option is to choose crags near the parking - guides such as Rockfax and Jingo Wobbly make it easy to choose venues with 2-minute walk-ins.
However, I agree with what others have said - that you will miss out on some amazing venues if you restrict your choice in this way. Having made many campervan road trips over the past 20 years, I know it can be worrying to have all your worldly goods in one place - but most of the time it's worth the risk!
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