Isn’t it just fantastic that in one single trip you can experience the Eiffel Tower, and climb in one of the world’s most famous climbing destinations? Fontainebleau has over 30 000 bouldering problems on quality sandstone rock! And it’s only an hour by car outside of Paris. Our stay in Fontainebleau has been the month for challenging our personal best, take the tourist role to new levels, and established new friendships for life.
People in absolutely all ages (oh yes, older people too) from all around the world are coming to Fontainebleau to climb. There is something to climb for everyone in all grades, and you will meet both beginners and professionals in the forest. Of course, the sectors vary, so does the accessibility, but the different climbing guidebooks cover your needs pretty well. In the busiest periods, it’s like walking in the Champs-Élysées. So many people in one place, with all nationalities.
Not the hardest problems, but very cool! 1. Le Toit Ouvrant (6a) – Franchard Isatis, 2. Le Surplomb Rouge (6a) – Rocher des Souris, 3. Luna (6a) – Franchard Isatis
Miriam working on Duroxmani – Bas Cuvier. Foto: Joakim Sveen
Not exactly a confidence
boost, until you solve the problem!
The climbing in Fontainebleau is known for being hard graded. It may be wise to be a little bit humble and not too pumped up with confidence before you have climbed a few problems. At least that’s our experience, and what other climbers told us before we came to Fontainebleau. It takes some time to get used to the style, and the sandstone can be cruel to your fingers, but the quality of the climbing is superb, and the feeling of mastering a hard problem for your grade is just amazing.
Miriam had a long and hard fight on this boulder problem. The third day she finally sends it! Périphérique (7a) at Franchard Isatis.
One big happy family
During our month in Fontainebleau, we met and got to know a lot of people. That’s what makes Fontainebleau to such a cool place to be, there are so many climbers here with the same intentions as us, to climb and have fun.
Maren and Markus from Germany came to visit us again.
Tourists in Fontainebleau
There are thousands of people visiting Fontainebleau every year without even knowing about the bouldering. Fontainebleau is also famous for their castle, Château de Fontainebleau, a residence for the French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III. Miriam’s parents came to visit us during our month in Fontainebleau, so this was the perfect opportunity to be real tourists and explore the other fascinating sides of Fontainebleau. It’s so easy to fall in love with the architecture and nature around. No wonder that the rich people in Paris have come to spend their spare time here for decades.
Miriam and her parents in front of Château de Fontainebleau, and Smula promenading in the streets of Fontainebleau.
Planning a trip to Fontainebleau for the first time?
When to go
It depends on your preferences and how hard you climb. We arrived at the end of March and stayed until the middle of May. Some days were almost too hot to climb, the friction was terrible, and there was nearly no wind at all. On the other hand, we also had much rain at the end of our stay, and then we missed the hot weather. The Spring can be pretty unpredictable at any time. Luckily it dries super-fast in Fontainebleau.
If possible, try to avoid holidays, especially Easter.
- There are two different guidebooks available (some others too, but these are the most common), some people prefer to use them both. We like using Fun Bloc and Top Secret, but it’s really up to your preferences.
- The application 27 crags (premium) is also working perfectly in Fontainebleau. Just remember to put the sectors offline, as the signals can be bad at some places.
- Bleau.info is good to know about, we use it a lot to check different boulders and beta.
- You can buy guidebooks at the climbing shop, S’Cape, in Fontainebleau, or at campsites in the area (probably more places too). There you can also rent crashpads.
- Airbnb is always a good alternative, both in Fontainebleau and the small villages in the area. There are many old, super charming apartments/houses for rent – a little adventure in itself.
- There are lots of campsites in the area. However, note that some campgrounds are not open until the 1st of April. We stayed at Camping Les Pres the whole month. It is cheap (18€ per night), ok sanitary facilities (you pay for what you get), easy access, and not too far to drive to the different sectors. You can also get guidebooks and crashpads here.
- If you’re in a van, you’re not alone. It’s not really aloud, but it doesn’t seem like its permitted either. There are some areas you should be more careful to park at than others, so ask someone else with a van to be sure.
- Rent a French holiday home, Gite, for your group. These are small houses/cabins often owned by French people living in Paris.
Hopefully, we will repeat this successful Fontainebleau trip next Spring already. For years to come! And everyone is welcome to join!
Christoffer on Abdolobotomy (7a) – Franchard Isatis.
Christoffer on Duroxmani (6c) – Bas Cuvier. Miriam cheering, not spotting. Foto: Joakim Sveen.
La voie Michaud (6c) – L’éléphant. Le P’tit Toit (6b+) – 95.2. Paul’s boutique (7a+) – Apremont Envers.
Both of us on Haute Torsion (7a) – Franchard Hautes Plaines, the same problem as the cover photo.
The whole family on Electro Street (6c) – Apremont Envers.
On Jetman (assis) 6c – Apremont Envers.
Le Mandarin (
Périphérique (7a) – Franchard Isatis.
The worlds first 6a – La Marie Rose, Bas Cuvier. Foto: Joakim Sveen
Never without Smula.
We spent some fun days together with Herman & Co (because they are three guys named Herman in their gang) from Norway. Good times! Kristoffer (down to the left) has been to Fontainebleau a lot of times, so he was our guide and photographer.
Kristoffer flashing Magic Bus (7b+) at Buthiers, so easily.
High boulders in Fontainebleau are not a joke, even not the problems grade 5. La Fissure de L’i (5b) – Buthiers.
Joakim and Bibiana, two strong and super friendly boulderers from Norway, also traveling around (in a van).
Peter from Germany and his family stayed at the same campsite as us. He has been in Fontainebleau 17 times, so it was fun to join his company. Here he is sending Crazy Horse (7b) at Apremont Ouest.
Left, left, right! Bali Balan (7a) – Apremont Envers, initially a dyno problem. We managed to do it semi-statically, so don’t know the grade, but it was very cool. (Peter and Markus from the left).
We invited Maren & Markus, Daniel & Joachim and Peter & his family for a barbeque outside the Airstream. It was such a lovely evening. Foto: Daniel Løvaas
Good times at camping Les Pres too.
We spent some days on our drive from Girona to Fontainebleau. We had two stops in between. The second stop was in Loire Valley, doing some sightseeing for a few days.