The thing I love about climbing, aside from climbing, are the places that you go to in order to do that said climbing. Without further bullshit about climbing destinations, let me just say: Fontainebleau.
Every climber knows about Font and if you do not, it’s time to google the shit out of it, and if anyone asks, pretend that you’ve known about it all along. Otherwise you might get some sideways looks.
This year, on our much-needed vacation, we booked a home away from home in France, in a tiny village of Milly La Foret.
With basic french (aka zero french), we quickly got accustomed to frequenting 3 bakerys in our village, and eating at least two chocolate croissants a day. I never knew what the deal was with people’s obsession with French bakeries, but now I have a pretty good idea. Thanks a lot France. You’ve ruined me with your perfect butter, perfect crust and your softest baguette ever. What will I do now?! Once, a lady asked me about a croissant, stating that she was very particular about her croissant crust and softess of dough. I thought to myself, that she needed a therapist, more than a croissant, but now I get it. Now I really get it.
I’m getting sidetracked here. France is gorgeous. It’s history and charm leaves you speechless and a bit upset about living in such a young nation that we call US of A. Fuck it though, we are in Franceeeeeee!
Upon arriving, we had some day light left to zoom over to the Isatis area, where one of our friends almost had his head explode with excitement. Seriously, I was worried that he might not make it through the evening with the amount of energy that no normal person should have after 8 hours of sitting on the plane. He did, and while he ran around like a hamster in a wheel with a missing head (I guess that would make it “without”). To each it’s own. After months of working in a service industry and dealing with people, that wasn’t my vibe. I came to chill, I came to climb. As I walked around this incredible maze of an outdoor gym, drooling over perfect sandstone that we get to climb on very very soon, I definitely felt a sting of jealously that some people get to play on those rocks whenever they want. So pretty. So many. So accessible.
I became even more jealous in the days to come, when I realized that we would only be able to see and climb at about 10 areas during our two-week stay in France, OUT OF ROUGHLY 200! What in the actual fuck. Font has an obscene amount of boulder problems. It is the only place I have ever been to, so far, that has over 3000 boulder problems, over 200 areas and where all of the climbing is so delicious you have no idea if it’s a snack or a desert! From easy, to moderate, to stupid hard, all of it IS SO GOOD! Never have I ever had so much fun projecting a V2.
It absolutely does helps to have an amazing crew to climb with, and we had two weeks of characters, that’s for sure. I didn’t really have an agenda, all I wanted to do was climb every day and as much as I could before my body or my skin would say NO.
My skin, luckily was a good sport, unlike my body. I had an instance of a stiff neck combined with a sore back, resulting in a very painful experience that made climbing very much a struggle…and that is until we discovered that you can buy some banging pain killers over the counter at your local pharmacy. Thank you France. Pain free climbing is way more enjoyable.
Here is a very short list of the areas that we were able to visit:
Bas Cuvier, Apermont, Franchard Isatis, Franchard Cuisiniere, Noisy, Rouche aux Sabots, Petit Bois/La Baleine, Paradis, L’Elephant, Canard……there might be more. I don’t even know, I was not taking very good notes.
Climbing was so much fun and the weather was for the most part perfect, that note taking was not on my agenda. Every area had an absurd amount of classics (I still don’t really get this word for describing good climbs, since it is absolutely subjective, but hey…climbing is subjective), and perfectly flat landings have never been a problem for anyone, that’s for sure.
The couple of days that it rained, we either had half days until we got chased away by it, or we made our way to check out one of the many chateaus that France has to offer. One of them was Napoleon’s own Chateau de Fontainbleau. It was definitely my favorite, although on this trip I (most of us) did not get to see Chateau de Versailles. Chateau de Fontainbleau was astonishingly lavish. It made me think of Hermitage that I visited as a kid with my family. I do remember Hermitage to be an absolute wonder, insanely grandiose and seemingly impossible to comprehend as a whole.
We visited Paris for one day. Mostly we just walked along the river, enjoying the architecture and gawking at the beauty of the city.