Fontainebleau, by Max Streeton

I am not much into Bouldering. A trip to Font did not inspire me much, and I had a invite for a Birthday trip to N Wales the same weekend. However people kept telling me it would be fun, climbing in the sun on a sandy ‘beach’, drinking coffee and eating croissants. It was bound to rain on a Bank hol in N Wales and I do go there quite a lot. So in the end I decided to go to Font on the Wessex trip. Anyway the circuits there were originally developed for Alpine training so it was kind of mountaineering just in sections and laid side by side instead of piled up high.

We left Friday evening and after the ferry crossing drove down to Font arriving around 2am, in light rain.

The forecast I got before leaving said Sat and Sunday would be OK, but rechecking Meteo France now said 4 days of rain. Maybe I should have gone to N Wales!. The local bread and croissants were however good and it was only showers so we decided to at least go and look at one of the climbing areas. We chose the Rocher Fin in the Trois Pignons area partly as it had a long walk in (20 minutes!) so at least we would get a walk. The interesting rock formations of the sandstone boulders did provide an overhang to sit under while we waited for the rain to stop. I didn’t, we went back, via the local cafe, which did have good coffee.

Dinner in the camp site under a rain shelter we erected using a blanket.

Sunday morning it was raining, so we headed into Fontenbleau town. More coffee. Mid afternoon it stopped raining and we headed back to the same climbing area, with a pick nick stop on the way. The only other people there were an English stag party (including Neil Gresham). The locals had more sense. It did dry out by early evening and we got a few route in before dark. Actually quite fun.

The camp site was across the road from a river, which we had noticed before was escaping its bank. The camp site was also lower than the road, not good. The result of this is we woke on Monday morning to a small pond around the tents as the ground water level rose. After moving the tents in the lower areas we went climbing. It was sunny, we climbed lots of routes. It was actually rather fun. More rain stopped play late afternoon and we returned to find we needed to move the tents again as the pond had grown. After eating we notice the camp site road had become a river, fed by a new spring. Kids in the camp site were having fun playing in the new lakes, but we weren’t so happy. Getting wet from both above and below!

At 10pm some of us left to risk illegal camping in a forest car park. A fantastic spot we realised at dawn, and we wern’t moved on by the Gendarmes. The others opted to risk the highest point in the camp site, which just, but only just, stayed dry. As we were leaving on Tuesday they were closing the camp site as there was no dry land left.

With a ferry to catch we did not have much time, but got a few more sunny hours of climbing in. Then headed for the ferry. On arrival we were told all the ferries were running late due to storms in the channel, so we had to get the 6pm ferry running 1 hour late rather than the 7pm.

The verdict? Well yes it is quite fun, you do get lots of climbing in when it is not raining. The coffee and croissant are good, and French beer is tolerable for a few days. I guess I will have to come back when it is sunny!