The third book in the Rockfax France series covers the extensive and fertile climbing area west of the author's previous guide to Haute Provence. The areas covered largely surround the beautiful Parc National des Cévennes, but also includes crags that are close to the cities of Nimes and Avignon. Matt Heason gives his opinion below
Last summer we went to the Ardeche with some friends for a family camping holiday. It was pre-school age for the kids so we went in September and were blown away by the area. It was stunning. Great campsites in great locations literally next to the cliffs. Whilst we were there the author of this new guide from Rockfax was staying at the same place researching for this guide. I've known Adrian for a long time so we gladly helped him out with his research. He was taking it seriously – he even had an inflatable canoe to navigate the rivers and was happy to ferry us across at times when the levels were excitingly high. As a result I can say that the Ardeche region of the guide has had a fair amount of input other than Adrian's which I think is a good thing for a guidebook. His approach to this and his other guide to the neighbouring region Haute Provence, has been to post a message on the climbing forums at UKClimbing inviting people to join him at key areas to voluntarily help out with the research of the guides. A great idea. He gets help with managing the volume of work and a bit of companionship at the same time – I rather suspect it can be a lonely labour of love writing guidebooks at times.
This guide covers the following crags, many of which I have never previously heard of, such is the wealth of amazing climbing in France. At 376 pages it's a mighty tome, and also testament to the volume of rock the French have – remember, this is only a selective guide! Although it is a sport climbing guide, there being little trad climbing in the area, there is reference to both bouldering and deep water soloing (at least in the Ardeche region), both of which we did and enjoyed as distractions on 'rest days'. I shan't comment on the general format. It is Rockfax and thus includes some basic introductory pages in foreign languages, the normal icon-based classification of both crags and routes making choosing where to do and which routes to attempt a doddle. It's full of clear colour topos and has a decent amount of inspiring photos mainly taken by Adrian himself. One thing which I noticed and approve of, is GPS coordinates for all the parking areas. Very handy. A decent piece of work and one which should encourage a barrage of Brits to visit the area. We did, and we had a ball, and that was without this guide.
Matt Heason, first published on Heason.net
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