/ Climbing in Normandy / Northern France
Has anyone climbed at any of the crags in Normandy? I'm off on a family holiday there this summer, and wondered if the crags were any good and if any of them were particularly child friendly - plenty of shorter easy routes and good non-climbing stuff to do.
On the UKC listing, Clecy, Fosse Arthour and Val Saint Martin all look interesting, but there's not a whole lot of detail on there
Not sure if it Clecy but there was another crag in a woodland setting with a river flowing past.... possibly granite? Looked quite attractive.
I climbed at Clecy a couple of years ago and it was very pleasant. Reminded me of The Dewerstone and a bit less of Tremadoc. Short approach, plenty of easy routes, well bolted, used a lot by beginners I believe. Don't know about non climbing stuff though.
Here's a few links, including a topo, which may be useful, especially if you can speak French!
Sorry I seem to have posted the first link twicw and missed out the topo. Here it is.
Thanks everyone for all the quick responses and the links. It sounds like both Clecy and Fosse would be suitable. Looking at the topo links Fosse Arthour may be favourite since it specfically says its a family crag, and the base of the crag looks child friendly?
Honfleur is worth a visit, nice old port, Normandy beaches in a fairly particular sense as most of the visible history is WW2, pleasant but not particularly dramatic coast. Falaise, of William the Conqueror fame is pleasant in a bucolic sense but what they call the "Suisse Normande" is to be taken in a very relative way.
If you can go a bit further the Cotentin is already a bit wilder, with more spectacular views and then Mont St Michel is very special but crowded in Summer, and St Malo with it's granite wall well worth a visit. Further West gets you into a different country, Bretagne, with it's own Cornwall and the most spectacular coastal scenery I know the Pointe du Raz... the force of the tide flowing past and the granite cliffs and islands is exceptional, quite frightening even at a distance. Inland their are many ancient forests with all sorts of Arthurian places which should please the children.
All in all a week is about right for a good visit, the green Michelin guide is as good as any for both Normandy and Bretagne.
The municipal campsite at Clecy is good but gets busy at weekends, very handily placed for the crag
Hiring canoes for the trip down the river back to the campsite from Pont-d'Ouilly is great fun; about 10 miles 7 or 8 easy weirs to shoot.
The campsite will arrange this for you
There are plenty of routes in the range of 4 to 6, all well bolted.
There are several cafes & restaurants by the river and in the village
I've climbed at Fosse Arthour and UKC user MadGuernseyBoy has been to Clecy. F.A. is a strange "sandstone turned into glass" type rock - it has the texture but doesn't get sandy on the holds. There are topos online for both crags. MGB says Clecy is good and would go back.
Toby - Why not come to Guernsey? Loads of climbing, beaches, Museums and military locations for small and large boys to explore. If you want more commercialised tourist things then do Jersey.
Pen-Hir in Brittany is an excellent crag, mostly trad but with a couple of good sport sectors (or was when we were there - the bolts have been in and out a few times over the years I think). I biut reminiscent of Cornwall, with more tourists but fewer climbers.
The local campsite was very good, but make sure you avoid the big fields as that's where the very loud groups seem to go - there are quieter areas though.
I went once, I think it was 1989 - I remember listening to first Stone Roses album on my walkman when there anyway! :) We went to a tomato museum and my Mum commented that Guernsey was a bit like revisiting the 1950s. :) I do remember the beaches were great though and I did what I guess you could call some of my very first bouldering there!
No, I've never climbed there but Clecy mentioned above is supposed to be worth a visit. The granite cliffs in Brittany must have climbs on them but I've never tried - I went there at a time when I wasn't climbing. There's one quite esoteric place on the lower Seine valley which involves climbing chalk cliffs on embedded flints but I wouldn't recommend it. Like all French low level crags anything will be bolted, although I should think there would be some bouldering on the granite rocks on the Breton beaches.
Have you looked on the COSIROC site, or Camp to Camp? Or maybe google "escalade en Bretagne".
Cosiroc is still there but looking at it it seems to be only about the Ile de France, ie. the Paris region, nowadadys. I seem to remember it had stuff about other areas too before:
Anyway by googling an area and adding "escalade" you can find what you want generally.
Clecy is a very good crag.Well bolted and with a wide range of grades on mostly good rock. We spent a full week there and climbed every day.
Fosse is a more compct type of rock and from memory the base of the crag is jumbled boulders while Clecy is more rock, grass and trees.
Both crags are near to cafes, rivers and grass for non climbing activities.
There are quite a few crags dotted around Normandy - many where listed in a guide book written by Dave Jones (?) - I think it was called Rock Climbing in Europe - no topos but good descriptions of the various crags.
Though the grades for Clecy are in red at the UKC logbook; I'd say they are accurate for the routes I've done.
Loads of child friendly stuff, a lot of routes are 2 pitches but suitable for top roping the 1st pitch if climbing with children and it's not busy.
A 60m single rope is fine & will get you down from the top in 2 abs (from memory it's not possible to walk off from the top).
La Veronique is probably the "classic" of the crag at 5+ and is featured in "French Rock" by Bill Birkett
Lots to do even a small via ferratta on the opposite side to the crag. Kit hire available at the start.
Bolts and chains at the top of the crag and an easy walk off via the Rochers des Parcs path back to the crag base(20mins)
Things to be aware of it gets very busy during holidays and is popular with local outdoor pursuit groups for abseiling. The road into the valley from Clecy is one-way on bank holidays and weekends. Parking is easiest at the viaduct carpark although its possible beside the river.
They're red because there is no crag moderator and so none of the routes has been verified. It just needs someone with a recent guidebook to volunteer - even if it's just to check the routes, verify them, and then resign :-)
Thanks for all the replies. It sounds like there is a lot of love for Clecy, with more than enough climbing to keep me going on a holiday with the kids, plus the canoeing, via ferrata and general messing about in boats.
In the past I've always headed much further south looking for the better weather, but the short drive is definitely appealing with 4 kids in the car.
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