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Top 5 Spots to go Rock Climbing near Paris and around France post image

Top 5 Spots to go Rock Climbing near Paris and around France


Tomas Ichaso

March 1, 2024

Last updated on March 1, 2024 by the Explore-Share team


From July 16th to August 11th, Paris will hold the 2024 Summer Olympics Games. It’s not the first time they take place in France: the country has already hosted the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, and the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.

After making its debut in Tokyo 2020, sport climbing will be included in the Olympics for a second time in Paris 2024. The top competition climbers from around the world will give their best to challenge and beat Tokyo gold medal champions Janja Granbert, from Slovenia, and Alberto Gines Lopez, from Spain. In 2020 there was only one gold medal for the combined winner of the three competing climbing disciplines (boulder, speed and lead). But in Paris, two competitions will crown their own Olympic champion in sport climbing. One will be a combined competition of boulder and lead events, and the second one will only feature a speed event.

France is the ideal scenario to host a climbing event of this caliber, as it’s one of the top destinations for rock climbing around the world. From Fontainebleau, the top class bouldering destination right around the Paris bend, to mind-blowing spots for sport climbing such as Verdon or the Calanques, legendary alpine routes in Chamonix, or even hidden gems for climbers in the neighboring Freyr, Belgium, there are endless possibilities for rock climbing near Paris and a bit further away too.

So grab your chalk and climbing shoes, and check our pick of the best climbing spots and tours near Paris and in France!

1 - Bouldering in Fontainebleau

Just 60 kilometres southeast from Paris, Fontainebleau is the biggest and most developed bouldering area in the world. So if you are a climber staying in Paris, it’s an absolute must! 

In Fontainebleau, you have enough boulder problems to keep you busy for a lifetime. The forest is famous for its peculiarly shaped rocks resembling elephants, tortoises, and crocodiles. You’ll find there a wide range of difficulty levels, making it an ideal destination for novice, intermediate and advanced climbers. There are even boulder lines that haven’t been solved!

If it’s your first time there, you might feel the forest as a huge labyrinth, with many subsections, and where it’s not so easy to move around. So it’s not a bad idea to go with a local guide who can show you the best spots, teach you the basics if you are a beginner, or help you to improve your technique if you are already an experienced climber. We recommend you check this guided Bouldering Day in Fontainebleau trip to make the best out of your climbing experience.

Bouldering in Fontainebleau

Bouldering in Fontainebleau. Photo courtesy of Ivan H.

2 - Seaside Rock Climbing in Les Calanques

Moving down south, Provence is known not only for its famous sunny weather, gorgeous Mediterranean coastline, vineyards and lavender fields, but also for being home to some extraordinary climbing crags.

Along the coastline that goes from Cassis to Marseille, we can find the inlets known as Les Calanques, steep walls of limestone rising up from the crystal blue sea. Both for the quality of the rock, and the astonishing views, it’s for sure one of the finest rock climbing venues in France.

There are options for all levels, including single pitch sport routes, long multi-pitch routes up to 250m long (both trad and bolted), to traverses along the sea edge and deep water soloing.

Guillaume, certified Rock Climbing Instructor in the Calanques, offers guided tours from Marseille to Cassis and everywhere in Provence, including this amazing Multi-pitch rock climbing day trip.

 Rock Climbing in Les Calanques

Climbing by the sea in Les Calanques. Photo courtesy of Guillaume M.

3 - Verdon Gorge: The Origins of Sport Climbing

Also in Provence, in between Nice and Marseille but a bit away from the seaside, we can find the mythical Verdon Gorge. Rising up from the beautiful turquoise Verdon river, this canyon is home to over 1,500 routes on its magnificent limestone walls. 

Verdon Gorge is part of rock climbing history. The first routes were opened towards the end of the 60s, and in the 80s Verdon became one of the birthplaces of sport climbing, as the use of bolts became more popular, making it possible to climb across the limestone slabs.

The 20-kilometre gorge offers hundreds of routes, from easy single-pitch to breathtaking 100 to 350-metre multi-pitch lines. One of the distinctive features of Verdon is that to climb most of these routes, you first need to approach from above, and abseil to the base of the wall to then climb up.

La Palud sur Verdon is the most common starting point for climbing trips in Verdon. Kira, a rock climbing guide who made Verdon her home, offers this perfect rock climbing experience to discover one of the most iconic destinations for rock climbing in France.

 Verdon Gorge

Climbing in the Verdon Gorge. Photo courtesy of Robin R.

4 - Rock Climbing in Chamonix, the Alpine Mecca

World-known for standing at the foot of Mont Blanc, and being the starting point for legendary alpine climbing routes, Chamonix also offers some epic rock climbing.

And due to climate change and warmer temperatures, rock climbing in the region is becoming more and more popular as it’s less risky than itineraries involving glacier, mixed or ice climbing.

Options for rock climbing in and around Chamonix range from single-pitch sport routes, to trad and bolted multi-pitch, including some breathtaking big walls. Needless to say, the scenery is always spectacular, with the Mt. Blanc range as a backdrop with its inspiring granite needles.

On the valley starting from Le Fayet and all the way to the Swiss border, there are plenty of valley crags that are ideal for sport climbing. If you are looking for classic multi-pitch routes, Plan de l'Aiguille or Aiguilles Rouges are the go-to climbing spots around Chamonix. Either if you are looking for easier or more challenging routes, you can check this multi-pitch climbing trip in Chamonix offered by Kyriakos, an IFMGA mountain guide and expert.

Rock Climbing in Chamonix

Rock climbing in Chamonix. Photo courtesy of Kyriakos R.

5 - Freyr, Belgium’s Rock Climbing Paradise

Moving up north, and not that far away from Paris, Freyr is Belgium’s top rock climbing destination. Although it might not be the first country that pops to your head when thinking about rock climbing in Europe, Belgium has a lot to offer, and Freyr is, hands down, the largest and best rock climbing area there.

Rising by the side of the beautiful Meuse river, close to Dinant, the Freyr massif has more than 600 climbing routes. Ranging from easy to very difficult grades, there are options for all types of climbers, including single-pitch and multi-pitch routes up to 120 metres high.

Going with a local certified climbing instructor will allow you to discover the best rock climbing routes in Freyr according to your level, including some from which you can see the river and the Chateau de Freyr from the top!

Freyr, rock climbing

Rock climbing by the Meuse, above Château of Freyr. Photo courtesy of Christophe L.

Bonus track: The Best Indoor Climbing Gyms in Paris

If you’ll be in Paris, but don’t have the possibility to travel to some of the rock climbing destinations mentioned above, you have the option to climb in some of the best indoor climbing gyms in the city. This is also a great alternative if you are new to rock climbing, and want to learn the basics in a controlled environment before heading out to the rocks.

Some of the top gyms for climbing in Paris are:

  • ClimbUp Aubervilliers is the largest indoor climbing gym in the world, with 5000m² distributed for bouldering and more than 200 rope lines. It’s located to the north of Paris, with easy access just steps away from Line 12 Aimé Césaire metro station. 
  • Climbing District, at the crossroads of the 19th, 18th, 10th and 9th arrondissements, is a great option for bouldering that stands out for its open spaces and great ambience.
  • MurMur, aka Arkose Pantin, located in a historic hall, is the biggest overhang for rope climbing, and has also a bouldering gym.

If you are looking for a certified instructor for a climbing session on one or several of these locations, you can get in touch with Ivan, who offers Indoor climbing lessons in Paris.

Indoor Climbing Gyms in Paris

In case you are interested in other activities besides rock climbing near Paris, here you can check all the guided trips in France.

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