Hugo Da Roit introduces an unexpected climbing paradise in France's far north...
Normandy is a region of France located in the northwest, mostly flat, filled with crops and cows. The region is known for its rich history with the Vikings, William the Conqueror and more recently for the Normandy landings during WW2. You may also know the region for its cheese and its alcohol from apples and pears. Normandy is bordered by more than 600km of coast. The west of Normandy is part of the Armorican massif and offers numerous bocage, rugged and verdant relief bringing most of the climbing opportunities here in Normandy. The east part of Normandy has an even flatter relief but comes with a lot of cliffs which border the laces of the Seine (the main river, going from Le Havre to Paris and beyond). The climbing is mostly inland, cliffs close to the sea are numerous but some are forbidden and a lot of them have really poor rock.
I've climbed at Mortain, Clecy & Fosse Arthour. The rock at Mortain and FA is quite cool - I'd describe it as a sandstone metamorphosed to glass - it retains much of the sand texture, but is bullet hard and doesn't turn to sand under your fingers like the rock in RedRocks does. Nice to climb on, and fine in the wet unlike other sandstones. Clecy reminds me of the Dewerstone in it's aspect - you start amongst the trees and pop out into spectacular views. The bolting is somewhat 'sporting' on the 6a and below routes still - plenty of opportunity to hit ledges and the like in places if you come off due to the spacings. Fine if you have a UK trad mentality, but not if you've grown up on grid-bolted modern steep stuff. It's a short walk from the decent campsite to the main sectors. The VF on the other side of the river is good fun and I think can be done for free with your own gear (memory fails me on this). It has a big zipline descent over the river available to those that pay for it. There's also a model train attraction in Clecy but we didn't have time to check it out.
> More destination articles like this please. I'd be interested to know more about more trad climbing venues in the area, even though a couple are mentioned.
There's not a lot. There's big sea cliffs at Cap De La Hague (you can see them from Guernsey, 30+ miles away), but I suspect the nuclear reprocessing plant above would make those out of bounds. Then it's all sand until Flamanville, then sand until Cap de Carteret. There's potential for a handful of routes and some bouldering there (see the page I created on here). Then I believe it's all sand until the low headlands around St.Malo which may have bouldering or very short routes. Then there's sea cliffs at Cap Frehel. Inland, there's bits and bobs in old quarries at Dol De Bretagne, Dinan, and a couple of other places. The Channel Islands have far more climbing.
That's true, the channels islands have far more Climbing for trad.
For La Hague: you can get informations about nez des voiries here: https://sites.google.com/view/caffmeux/escalade-en-normandie/nez-des-voidries
You can find coastal boulders too: https://sites.google.com/view/caffmeux/escalade-en-normandie/anse-des-moulinets