100 years ago the bouldering adventure began in Fontainebleau. Back then it was seen as a training ground for alpine climbers (with their rock hammers, slings, anchors, etc.). Luckily, the forest remained almost unaffected by their tools. By the way, the forest is a synonym for the whole area, because it is one big forest. You can also call the place Font or Bleau, first is usual among foreigners, the latter is a name used by the locals.
It´s (almost) all about the feet
Wherever in the forest (which is spread over 25,000 hectares of the ground) you climb, your issue will be the same: If you´re normally climbing 6A boulders, you will probably not be able to top out many 5’s. And that´s because foot positioning matters a lot in Bleau. You will have to learn how to be very accurate. So as a result of your stay in Bleau, you´ll probably improve your technique a great deal.
The area is famous for its huge offer of boulder problems and is also very well known for their safety. You can find all size of boulders here and under most of them there is a sandy, flat spot where you can easily place your crash pads. For the same reasons it is popular with families.
For reasons mentioned above, this magic sandstone paradise is now a victim of its own success. When the first sunny Sundays of the season occur, it’s not easy to find the peaceful atmosphere of the forest. Loads of Parisian families meet hundreds of (not only) German climbers under the most famous boulders and that´s it.
It is still possible to find places that are calm, though. They are less famous, but they have a lot to offer and I mean by that some very attractive boulders. Here are my suggestions:
Rocher Fin: Discover outdoor bouldering in a quiet place
This area is located in the middle of Trois Pignons Forest, well known for its sand sea and its historical areas like La Roche aux Sabots or Le Cul du Chien. Most of the climbers stay in the well-known part of the area and that´s why I recommend to walk a little bit more and reach Le Rocher Fin. Caught between the sand field and typical local vegetation, the place is really pleasant. The boulders here are hardly damaged by climbers and the whole spot is clean. In my opinion, it´s just the perfect place to enjoy climbing.
- Gras double 5b
- Coup de griffe 6a+
- A vue de nez 6b
- Le requin 6b+/6c
Le Maunoury: Brand new area with prominent lines
You have to walk off the beaten tracks to find this golden nugget. It´s located near the city of Larchan, 20 minutes south from Fontainebleau. Le Maunoury offers a huge density of awesome sandstone boulders with more curved shapes than in the north part of the forest. These rocks, slightly different from the typical Bleau ones, make a charming spot and offer different style of climbing. I´d especially recommend Le Maunoury to climbers who are looking for novelties.
Recommended problems :
- Oasis 7b
- Movement activated 7b/7b+
- Irréversible 7c
Franchard Meyer: A jewel for octogradists
As its name implies, Franchard Meyer is located in the middle of the Franchard area, near the famous Cuisinière. You only have to walk through the valley for about 10 minutes, pass the slabby Duel on the right side and here we are!
A huge sandstone cube dominates the hill, the king lines are on it. This rock has 3 five stars problems that are 5 meters high. Moreover, each problem has its own style. You can play with the physical crack of Toutes Peines Confondues 8a and then get to its tough and tricky crux just under the mantle. Also, if you’re not feeling in shape for 8s yet, feel free to climb the wonderfull Tailleur de Mensonges 7c, this line follows some good edges to end with a classic Font mantle on huge slopers! If , on the other hand, you feel very much in shape, let your fingers crimp harder than ever on the tiny holds of Peak Power 8b+.
Recommended problems :
- Tailleur de mensonges 7c
- Toutes peines confondues 8a
- Peak Power 8b+
For some years now, S’cape is an independent shop located in the center of Fontainebleau. You can find all kinds of climbing equipment and outdoor products here. http://www.scape-shop.com
When you on a rest day visit Paris, you can go to Le Quartier Latin and find everything you want in Au Vieux Campeur.
The two mentioned shops offer more than 15 topo guidebooks of Fontainebleau. I recommend Topos 5+6 and 7+8. Despite rather unattractive visual, they are more precise and comprehensive than the other books.
Font is for everyone
In Fontainebleau, there is always a way to find what you are looking for. Whether you are looking for the overhangs, slabs, height, tricky projects or whether you have come with your family, Font is made for you. In fact, Font is made for every kind of climbers. Your kids can play for hours in the fine sand of the forest ground while you may crush like a pro and try some of the hardest problems in the world.
May the Font be with you. Enjoy!
Photos: Jakub Frič