Alpes – Maritimes – a beautiful mixture of the alps and the sea next to each other in southern France. The Côte d’Azur region is blessed with hundreds of sectors of climbing possibilities for everyone at all levels be it a wall of tufas, ledges, overhangs, roofs and slabs. If you are situated in Nice, the furtherst crag to reach is at most 1.5 hrs away. The border to Italy is just about an hour away from there. In Nice, you’ll most probably remember your vacation with impeccable blue skies, sun and sea.
It must be our 6th time here in this region. And each time, there are newly equiped crags and sectors to be discovered. When the Alpes Maritime guide book came out in 2005 it was one of the first things we had to get. Before that, we’ve seen Gorges du Loup in ’99 while passing through to a spain trip and were astonished with what climbing possibilites it had to offer. It’s a no wonder that the Bindhammer brothers were a steady visitor to the secret spot: Jurassic Park. This place not only offer a fantastic view on top of the world, but had a variaty of overhanging routes. Around the corner was Cayenne with countless beautiful long sustained routes. Getting there is an adventure itself.It leads you through tunnels of water pipelines with a few glances of the other sectors of the Gorge – Pupuce Surplomb. Don’t forget your head lamps, it can get really dark in the tunnels.
You should be feeling comfortable climbing an 8a if you plan to come here. “Diverse Satanique”, “Sika” or “New Power Generation” are some of the classical routes of the area. It’s the playground of knee bars freaks, foot hookers and those who loves a pumped forearm. In the later years, the locals added more than 50 routes, one more inviting than the next. It’s a good place to get to when it rains (which is seldom in Nice, but when seepage gets through, (thats how tufas are created) it would be better to look for an alternative.
is a favourite spot. It is crowded in the weekends due to it’s easy access, it’s beautiful environment and lovely routes. Faboulous routes in the 7th french grade, lightly overhanging and sheltered from light rain. In the winter time, it’s better to head off to sun laid areas like Castillon, Gorbio , La Turbie or Peilon as a strong chilly wind can blow through the Gorge du Loup.
This cliff lies above Menton, it’s sun laid and is a winter crag. The routes call for a bulging biceps after each climb, be it a 6b or 8b. Coming from Menton, head for signs to Castillon. Just a few kilometeres from the town itself, the crag appears and there’s no doubt that you’re just a stones throw away from the crag. Park at a sharp left hand curve and descend to the crag in 10 mins. If there’s time left after your climbs, head off to the artistic town of Castillon, who has also a fantastic bakery and patisserie all baked in the original stone oven.
Don’t miss La Turbie if you’re in Nice. Situated just right above Monte Carlo, it’s where when you can combine doing your climbs and watching the Formula One races in the first row :-) The crag lies just below the astrological observatorium. There are many differant sectors to choose from. Shady, sunny areas, routes for all grades and tastes. The atmosphere is amazing, overlooking the city, sea and being right on top. Park right before the observatorium along the road, walk right to the tip of the summit and from there descend, depending on which sector you would like to head for.
The Chef recommends:
- For hot sunny days, Sector Jakob is east facing
- For cooler days, Big Ben, Pheripherique or La Lourbie are sunny the whole day. Avoid any wild camping in the area.
This is the right place to go if you’re looking for something really sunny. The majority of the route lies from the 6th to 7th grade and is also well bolted with a sum of 150 routes. There are a few sectors to choose from, and yes, there are is also a north sector if it gets too warm. The crag is situated right next to the town. It’s also a good idea to camp in the town if Gorbio is going to be your main destination. You could leave your car parked and hit the climbing area within walking distance.
Another area which has a huge selection is the massive of St. Jeannet. The area offers sports climbing as well as alpine climbing with up to 500 differant routes. Park right at the beginning of the town, pass by the little city and head for the different sectors. In summer, Sector “La Source” offers shades in the different blocks. It was re-bolted in 2008 and many easy routes appeared and made this clearly favourable for beginners. There are a min of 30 routes between the 4th and 5th grade, another 30 between 6a and 6c. Since the terrain is ideal for families and children, the routes are very frequented. On colder days, head for the “newer” sector “La Cagne“. Note that some of the routes stays wet for a long time, and it could get rather windy on cold winter days. Majority of the routes around 6c. There’s a climbing shop in the heart of the town if you need chalk or any new equipment for climbing.
The new Hot Spot is in St. Cezaire. Your eyeballs would pop if you see how this place has developed in the last years. New sectors popping up at every crag you would find, well almost. :-) The topos will be found in the new guide book from Alti Coop planned to be published in May. And apparently there was a delay. Nevertheless, we’ve tried out 3 sectors of it and have given it **** stars to all that tufa climbing.
Climbing in Côte d’Azur is great, never boring and always with a little surprise in each vacation you spend there :-)
L’escalade dans les Alpes-Maritimes, from Alti Coop
Limestone, tufas, overhangs and ledges, holes
Best time to go:
This destination is an all year place to go. But avoid it during heavy rains. It’s the time when tufas will have to develope. ;)
70 – 80m
in Gorbio, Menton, Nice
Eze, entrance of Villefranche and la Turbie
Tel: 04-93-01-81-64 / 04-93-76-70-43
- Camping de la Bergerie
- Les Romarins : Sur la grande corniche
La Laune :
- Peillon – Telephone 04-93-79-91-61
Le Mas Fleuri :
- A Sospel, exit at A8 Menton. 45 mins from Nice – Camping Le Mas Fleuri : Tel.: 04-93-04-14-94 / fax 04-9304-14-86
Where to eat:
Vence, Tourette, St. Jeanett. Best Pistazia cakes in Castillon that comes directly from the Wooden oven
diverse Supermarkets in Vence (L’eclerc, Casino, etc)
With more than 50 differant crags and thousands of routes, a two week holiday would not be enough to cover the Alp Maritime district. We recommend you to settle down in the outskirts of Vence, and spend the rest of your pension days climbing and meeting the celebreties in Monte Carlo at night.
- Don’t miss St. Paul or Tourette if you’re interested in medivial villages finely refurbished and decorated with plenty of artist’s work.
- Hit the beach from Vence. This is just a 20 mins drive.
- Join the Parcour de la Nice.
- Market days in Vence, St. Paul, Grasse
- Confiserie du Florian – curious to know how the turn a rose petal in to a petal of sugar? Everything a sweet lover found find to satisfy himself.
- Grasse, the famous perfume city. Take a walk through the streets filled with perfumed goods, visit the perfume museums and take home bottles of good smelling scents with you.
- Monte Carlo – willing to spend your last earnings in a Casino?