/ Fontainebleau with a family
Hello UKC community!
I've never been to Font' but am planning a family holiday (with a five year old) and am after some recommendations on areas to visit and nice campsites to stay. Not after good climbing areas for adults, more cool places to stay and have outdoor fun with the family. Any links or recommendations gratefully received!
We're going this year for the first time "avec enfants" (2 and <1!).
The forest itself is pretty special, even without the bouldering. It's a bit of a honeypot, but Cul de Chien / 95.2 is basically a huge sandpit, with trees for shade and rocks for climbing.
Many other areas also have a large open area to base yourself whilst you can boulder while the kids run about. There are also the Kid's circuits at many sites (e.g. rocher canon) to whet their appetite.
Personally, in terms of value for money with a family I'd look at a gite - the campsites in the forest aren't cheap at all, and for a few £ more you can have a fully furnished house with kitchen and a TV (in case of rainy days!).
At a push, EuroDisney is about an hour away ;)
I agree with Durbs on the Gite suggestion.
In terms of areas, Cul de Chien is great, but if you go in the middle of the summer, it can be oppressively hot. It's basically a mini-desert in the middle of the forest. The approach may bit a bit of a struggle for short legs. There are several areas in Trois Pignons like La Roche aux Sabots that are a good alternative.
I'd suggest La Canche aux Merciers. Similar sand box experience as Cul de Chien but with a shorter approach and a bit more shelter from the sun.
You may want to consider Beauvais as well. It's got a couple of kid's circuits and more of a forest feel to it. One of the boulders even has a natural slide.
Basically, you're looking for areas with white circuits (Blanc Enfants).
If the family wants a day off and you want to climb, check out Buthiers Piscine. Bouldering right next to a water park. One word of advice, to go on the water slides, you need to be wearing tight shorts. I showed up in surf shorts and had to buy a pair of budgie smugglers. Not my finest moment.
> Basically, you're looking for areas with white circuits (Blanc Enfants).
Which tend to be horribly polished and could well put your 5 year old off climbing for life......
The camp site at Grez-sur-Loing is family friendly (but avoid Dutch and Belgium Bank Holidays!), and Grez is a lovely medieval village with an attractive historic bridge. If your nipper can swim you can hire 2 seater canoes to take out on the Loing right opposite the camp site.
The forest is lovely for walking and picnicking in in good weather, but miserable in the wet. It's also a bit "samey" with not a lot to do other than climbing, cycling and walking, and can get unbearably hot in mid summer.
Fontainbleau Chateau is interesting to visit, if you are into that sort of thing - very opulent. Paris is a short train journey away and easy to spend a day there, but that might be tiring for the little one.
I'm there this summer for a week with the family, thought it would be a nice area to explore. Are there any parts that have open water/rivers/streams around that we can play about in? (Will also have the dog with us)
Polish builds character and footwork I have two climbing teenagers that got started in Font, so it can be a good introduction.
> Polish builds character and footwork I have two climbing teenagers that got started in Font, so it can be a good introduction.
Hi Henry, if the weather craps out, and camping becomes a bit grim, the F1 hotel in Moret-sur-Loing is very handy and is usually about £23 a night. No booking needed, just rock up with a bank card. An adventure for the nipper sleeping above your head!
We camp as it works out cheaper with only three of us (wife and daughter), at the La Musardiere campsite. Nice forest setting with 3 child friendly pools, a playground and lots of other families. The Jingo Wobbly guide is good for finding all the kids circuits, and divides them by age (5-8, 8-12 etc), which helps avoid reachy stuff for little people. Good flat traffic free cycling on forest paths too.
Another recommendation for the campsite in Grez-sur-Loing, friendly, safe, kids play area and a short walk to the river where you can go swimming.
We've been a few times with the kids (when they were a little younger than yours) and went to the same areas of the forest I'd visited pre-children. Unsurprisingly I ended up climbing less, but the kids had fun in all the areas scrambling over the rocks and exploring the forest. No need to look for circuits, just let them loose and make sure they don't go too high.
Elephant is worth a look so the kids can see the elephant, they also liked the area round Barbizon as there was a higher chance of the day featuring an ice cream.
Font is brilliant for kids.
It's worth bearing in mind that a lot of the enfants circuits are basically like mini versions of adult boulder problems and are not necessarily designed for very young children (for example, because the child really needs to be of a particular height). There are going to be some that will be a bit challenging for a 5 year old. This doesn't necessarily matter as there is so much rock around that kids will find something to climb.
I've written an article on my blog that describes my experiences of going to Font with my son, including what the areas I've been to are like for kids and a few of the practical issues. You might find it useful -
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