/ France West Coast

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Tamati - on 15 May 2014
Planning to drive down the West coast of France this summer, heading to the Pyrenees as a final destination.

Has anyone else on here done a similar trip?

Is there much climbing to be done?

Can you recommend an area of the Pyrenees for sport climbing, walking and mountain biking?

Thank you
drolex - on 15 May 2014
In reply to Tamati:
This map might help: http://www.ffme.fr/site/falaise.html .

Brittany is full of climbing spots - don't know it myself but local friends are very happy with the possibilities there. North of that (Normandy and Nord) I have no idea.

Around the middle if you can go a little east to Charente (16), les Eaux Claires (http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=16560) near Angoulême is not to be missed if you can make that detour. Very nice routes (mostly above 6a I think).

From there until the Pyrénées, nothing near the coast...

Being a local I would recommend the vallée d'Aspe in the Pyrénées (take it with a pinch of salt :)). Some good sport climbing at Chemin de la Mâture if you like slabs ( http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=19219 ), you can go to the climbing wall in Oloron to find some local climbers and ask for advice. Arguibelle ( http://www.ffme.fr/site/falaise-fiche/1532.html ) is another possibility (but hard to find topos - I'll try to update the UKC list).

Excellent hill walking possibilities - ask for details, there is too much to be said. The cirque de Lescun is a true beauty, but most walking on the GR10 is very good. Further east, other good walking possibilities around the Pic du Midi d'Ossau with stunning views. The area is generally nice in summer if you like flowers and wildlife.

In truth anywhere in the Pyrénées should be fine. No idea about MTB though.
Post edited at 09:54
In reply to Tamati:

Ariège ticks all your boxes:

http://www.rockfax.com/climbing-guides/books/france-ariege-2012/

The book even covers all three activities - though briefly for the walking and biking!


Chris
Tamati - on 15 May 2014
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Thank you. Ariege will be going to the top of our list of destinations.

Would you say that this area will be less busy than the Alps?
Tamati - on 15 May 2014
In reply to drolex:

Thanks for your reply. All taken on board.

In reply to Tamati:

> Thank you. Ariege will be going to the top of our list of destinations.

> Would you say that this area will be less busy than the Alps?

I have never been here (we are there at the moment) in 'high' summer but have at every other time of the year and it is always amazingly quiet, compared to everywhere else in southern France. There are a lot of large camp-sites scattered up and down the valleys - so it must get busy sometimes, I'm guessing July and August! Exactly how busy is hard to say, John Arran might be along with some info about that when he spots this thread,


Chris
drolex - on 15 May 2014
In reply to Chris Craggs:

It's almost always quiet - Pyrénées are always a lot quieter than the Alps, Ariège is particularly far away from everything.
Tom V - on 15 May 2014
In reply to Tamati:

You know that saying about "Location, location, location"?
I reckon it was invented for Lescun.
Tamati - on 15 May 2014
In regards to it being quiet, that's brilliant. Hoards of people and queuing for routes really puts me off. Unfortunately I am restricted to UK school holidays.



Tamati - on 16 May 2014
In reply to drolex:

Do you know of any guidebooks for Brittany or online topos?

Toerag - on 16 May 2014
In reply to Tamati:

There are online topos for Mortain, Fosse Arthour and Clecy - either look up old threads I've commented in on French climbing or google the place name + topo. Aiguille de Mortain is good although the bolting there and at Clecy is a bit 'sporting' at times. Which French port are you travelling from

In terms of Driving down the west coast, go and climb up the Dune De Pyla, it is a true wonder of Europe.
drolex - on 16 May 2014
In reply to Tamati:

I think the reference site is this one: http://krimpadenn.fr/

There is a guide from the FFME for Ille-et-Vilaine (around Rennes) http://www.cd35ffme.fr/index.php/component/content/article?id=83 that you can order by mail by printing and filling out a form (yeah, technology...)

A list of other topos here, not sure where you can find the books though.
http://krimpadenn.fr/articles/categories2/biblio/contenu/90-topos
The site tells you who sells the book, some of the bookshops probably have online shops as well (if people don't speak English or if you don't speak French, feel free to ask me for help).

I'll ask local friends for more details.
Tamati - on 16 May 2014
In reply to drolex:

Unfortunately I don't speak French, which is often a problem. Thank you for the links I'll check those out.

In regards to climbing in Brittany, I don't mind finding my own routes. But it's always useful to have an indication of the worthwhile crags or areas.

Do you think it's worth packing a bouldering mat?
Tamati - on 16 May 2014
In reply to Toerag:

I haven't decided which Ferry to take yet. Dover-Calais and then a long drive to Brittany or take something like the Plymouth-Roscoff. Which I believe is more expensive but less driving on the French side.

Can anyone comment on which would be more suitable?

We will be driving from Sheffield.
gouezeri on 17 May 2014
In reply to Tamati:

Plenty of decent bouldering and sports routes around here in Brittany. The Krimpadenn site referenced above is still probably the most detailed and I think it still has active links to topos.
I've not taken the Plymouth-Roscoff ferry in years, because it is so bloody expensive (especially in the summer) and long, which is a real pain as I watch it sail past the house most days. Britanny ferries are only worth taking if you're on a night crossing and use that to rest (though this is arguably slower), but you've then got to pay for a cabin to get a decent night's sleep. Portsmouth-St Malo is probably the best compromise of price/distance (if you're coming via Britanny), followed by Caen. I'd have a look on a site like ferrysavers to see what deals you can find (add in fuel, motorway tolls etc on viamichelin). I'd also keep in mind that it's over 700km from Calais to somewhere like Brest, and a further 800+ down to the Pyrénées, when it's only just over 1000km if you drive there straight. So it would also depend on how much of a roadtrip you're into!
Tamati - on 17 May 2014
In reply to gouezeri:

Driving distance isn't really a problem as it will be broken into several days or even week.
Last year we drove to Slovenia, 6 weeks to get there and back. So quite a leisurely pace.

Toerag - on 17 May 2014
In reply to Tamati:

You could do Condor ferries from Poole, Weymouth or Portsmouth to St.Malo. Plenty of bouldering on the north coast of Brittany near Ploumanach.
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gouezeri on 19 May 2014
In reply to Tamati:

Cool. It's hard to offer advice at times when you don't know people's driving habits and intentions. My parents do the 700km from here to Calais in 3 days, whereas as I've been known to do well over a 1000km in just over half a day on a motorbike with no fairing ;-) I was keen to get there ;-)

In which case, you can easily save yourself well over 100 quid by going for some of the more easterly routes (Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre, Dieppe). Hard to give a proper comparison without more precise details, but let's take, Britanny Ferries, 2 people + car, 1 way, 10th July (Thursday). Portsmouth -> St Malo (only 1 crossing per day, overnight ~12h crossing, cabin not inc.) = £234. Same info, travelling Portsmouth -> Caen (quicker ~8h daytime crossing 3h+ more driving in France) early morning crossing £139, afternoon crossing £99. Condor's prices to St Malo seem comparable. These differences will be even greater if you compare with the more Easterly ports mentioned above, especially if you are travelling with a bigger vehicle (campervan/mobile home etc.). Please also bear in mind the day you travel, that same crossing above from Portsmouth to St-Malo, costs £199 on the Wednesday, £234 on Thursday, and £324 on Friday 11th. That's a fair bit of drinking money and galettes in my book. I've probably done these crossing hundreds of times now :-/ You can also save a bit if you're a member of the Caravan Club and book via them.

Toerag is right that there is plenty to do around here and Ploumanac'h has got lots of nice bouldering. Basically, over a week, you could drive about an hour a day, working your way around BZH coast bouldering or sport climbing in a different location/scenery every day. I've not done a lot of mountainbiking around here (which my very lonely Kona can attest to), but I know people who have, and there are plenty of nice bits of singletrack; so as long as you're not looking for some gnarly downhill action. ;-) Around the Monts d'Arrée and Huelgoat would certainly be worth looking at. It's worth noting that Googlemaps thinks that lots of paths/tracks around here are roads, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing!

What you can never guarantee, is the weather; and the number of tourists varies greatly depending on the general outlook. However, it also changes very quickly, is extremely localised, and can mean a morning bike ride is a washout, but an afternoon climb on dry granite still possible (if the sun decides to come out and it is windy as it often is). Planning anything in advance is the tricky thing!

Hopefully some of the above will also be of use. Sorry I can't be of much help at all south of the Loire.

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