Here is everything you need to know about my Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France. I travelled there alone without a car.
Fontainebleau is a popular bouldering destination in Europe that has been attracting climbers, boulderers, and alpinists from all over the world for many years. With a wide range of routes that cater to different skill levels, any climbing enthusiast can find a challenge here. As someone who has been a climber for many years, Fontainebleau has always been on my bucket list.
Fontainebleau is renowned for its circuit system, which consists of bouldering problems marked with different colours and numbers. The colour indicates the difficulty level, while the numbers indicate the chronological order of the boulders in the circuit. This system proved to be an effective way for me to explore different bouldering spots without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of boulders scattered throughout the area.
I have heard so much about this special place, with its unique sandstone boulders, scattered in large numbers all around, in a beautiful vivid forest. Luckily for me, an opportunity has arrived, and I could finally fulfil my long-time dream.
Before my travel to France has begun, I tried to invite some of my climbing friends to join me, but unfortunately, none of them could make it.
At first, I was a bit disappointed but decided that it won’t prevent me from going to the most famous bouldering site in the world. As being without a car and having a tight budget, I started to do some research. Although the internet is full of ‘first time in Fontainebleau’ guides, climbing areas and general information, I still felt lacking with some details I needed to know as a solo traveller.
So after spending more than a week, in the forest of Fontainebleau alone and without a car, here is my take on the experience, tips and useful information:
How to get to Fontainebleau – Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France | Alone without a car
If you’re travelling from Paris to Fontainebleau, taking the train is the most efficient option. You can catch a train from ‘Gare de Lyon’ station every 30 minutes, and the journey takes approximately 35-40 minutes. To purchase your ticket, head to the blue platform and use one of the blue ticket machines.
From there, select the ‘Fontainebleau-Avon’ station on the machine’s digital screen. A one-way ticket will cost 5 euros. While the station screens won’t display the ‘Fontainebleau-Avon’ station, they will show the ‘Montereau’ station, which is the last stop of the line that goes through Fontainebleau. To avoid confusion, it’s best to confirm with a train employee or a local.
Where to stay in Fontainebleau- Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France | Alone without a car
For me, being without a car, the most important conditions of accommodation were to be within walking distance from one of the bouldering areas and to be able to rent a crash pad.
Here are some of the places I stumble upon during my research:
Fontaineblhostel – Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France | Alone without a car
First, I chose to stay at a hostel in the town of La Chapelle la Reine. It was conveniently located with a simple bus route from Fontainebleau-Avon station and offered a variety of budget-friendly options such as dorms, private rooms, and camping. The hostel also had a kitchen and common area with complimentary WI-FI.
There is also a rental option for crash pads and bicycles. Nearby are supermarkets and restaurants. The closest walking distance boulder areas are about 35 min, including the classic ‘Elephant’. Unfortunately for me, the owner Patrick was on vacation and the hostel was closed during my stay in Font.
CLICK HERE and make a reservation.
Le Clos du Tertre – Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France | Alone without a car
Located in La Chapelle la Reine, there is a charming B&B gite that has been renovated from an old farmhouse. It boasts three cosy bedrooms and a shared kitchen. Guests can enjoy a short, five-minute walk to the local bakery, supermarket, and restaurants. The site is also conveniently within walking distance of some of the best bouldering areas. I had the pleasure of contacting the owner, Stef, who was extremely informative and helpful. He even rents crash pads to guests for a fair price and kindly offered electric bikes at no additional cost for exploring the surrounding forest. Additionally, the B&B offers discounts for guests booking more than four nights.
I decided to spend my one-week climbing vacation at La Musardeire, a popular campsite for climbers in Fontainebleau. To reach the site from Fontainebleau-Avon station, one can either take a bus or a taxi. While the bus option is cheaper, it can be complicated with multiple transfers and walking, taking up to 2 hours or more. On the other hand, a taxi ride is faster, taking only about 20 minutes and costing around 40 euros.
Located near Les Trois Pignons, the campsite is surrounded by a beautiful forest atmosphere with plenty of green trees and singing birds. It offers various facilities such as a pool, separate shower rooms and toilets for men and women, and a washing room for dishes including a washing machine and a dryer. There’s also a snack bar around the pool area that serves fast food and drinks, though beers can be quite expensive. It’s important to note that the snack bar is usually closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
For those in need of crash pads, they can be rented at the main office located at the entrance of the campsite. The first-day rental costs 10 euros, while subsequent days cost only 5 euros.
Some useful tips and information for La Musardeire camp guests
Bring your own toilet paper and soap. The camp doesn’t provide sanitary products, and there are no walking distance convenient stores in the area.
There is no Wi-Fi.
The electricity plugs in the camp are only E plug type, so it’s recommended to bring an international adapter.
Another option is to charge your electronics at the camp office. The office is open from 8:30-12:00 and from 14:00-19:00.
Entering the pool is allowed only with proper swim suites.
From Wednesday to Sunday, between 8:00-9:00, there is a bakery cabin at the entrance of the camp that sells fresh baguettes and pastries.
On Saturday evenings at the entrance, comes a pizza van with a big variety of toppings, freshly made warm and delicious. Highly recommended after a long day of climbing.
The crash pads that the camp rents are the most basic ones, it’s recommended to bring your own if you can.
For those without a car, it’s recommended to calculate the amount of food you bring with you, there are no close walking distance supermarkets.
In the office, they sell several bouldering guidebooks.
Tap water at the camp are safe for drinking.
Where to climb in Fontainebleau?
As previously mentioned, La Musardeire camp is located in close proximity to Les Trois Pignons forest, which is home to numerous boulder areas where I spent most of my time climbing. Each day, I ventured out to a different site, all of which were conveniently within walking distance from the camp.
Bouldering areas I went to during my stay – Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France | Alone without a car
Justice de Chambergeot
The camp’s nearest location can be reached within a 12-minute walk. It was the first time I came across Fontainebleau rock. The boulder area is small, tranquil and serene, with hardly any visitors around (I only came across 3-4 people all day). There are 2 circuits of orange and yellow, and a fantastic boulder problem awaits on top of a hill, offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the forest.
Gorge aux Chats – Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France | Alone without a car
My preferred location was a 15-minute walk from La Musardeire camp. It offered shaded boulder problems amidst chestnut and pine trees. There was a striking long traverse boulder in the centre along with slabs, high easy boulder problems, and various levels of climbs (blue, yellow, orange, and red). Despite its popularity, it never felt too crowded. I even had the pleasure of watching skilled climbers execute impressive moves. I highly recommend this spot.
There is a bouldering area located in the centre of the forest, which can be reached by a 25-minute walk from the campsite. The rocks in this area are fascinating, with unique shapes and mostly short height. You will find easy problems to solve as well as some intermediate technical climbs. The ground is covered with soft white sand, which makes it a safe spot to land even if you fall (some climbers argue that a crash pad is not necessary). This location is quite popular, and you can meet and socialize with other climbers. The boulders are situated in an open area, without any trees or shade.
Rocher des Potets – Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France | Alone without a car
About 30 min walk from the camp and very close to the 95.2 area. Rocher consists mostly of easy-level boulders full of big holes, pockets, jugs and easy holds. Also a lot of traverses routes. I think this spot can be perfect for climbers who need a rest day but
still want to do some climbing. I came to this site after several intensive days of bouldering and enjoyed taking it a bit easy and cruising along the rocks without too many power moves.
Having said that, there are still also harder routes, and ironically, at the end of the day here I lost more skin than in any other boulder site.
Roche aux Sabots – Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France | Alone without a car
I went for a 40-minute walk on a beautiful trail through a forest. The area had white sand, but it was messier than other sandy areas like ‘92.5’. It’s a good idea to bring a towel to clean off the rocks and your climbing shoes. In the middle of the site, there are some high boulders (around 3 meters) with easy blue routes. Scattered around, there are also some short boulders with orange routes. When I visited in early September, the place was full of wasps, and there were many nests under the rocks. I almost got stung when I put my finger in one of the pockets on the rocks, so it was my least favourite spot for bouldering.
Some extra tips and info on bouldering in Fontainebleau
When bouldering, it’s important to stay safe by climbing with others and having a spotter. However, if climbing alone, it’s crucial to carefully assess the boulder beforehand. Always check for proper down-climb options, consider the height, and position the crash pad correctly. Keep in mind that the grades on Fontainebleau are tougher than average, so be prepared to be humbled.
Additionally, the use of chalk in Fontainebleau is viewed as unethical due to the overuse of it creating a slippery layer on the rock, which can make it over-polished. Climbing in Fontainebleau requires technical skill since there are few visible footholds. Many bouldering areas are on white sand, so it’s recommended to bring a towel or cloth to clean the rock. It’s also advisable to bring a small rug to clean climbing shoes before starting a route.
Color circuits grades: Yellow (1A-3C or V0) Orange (2A-4B or V0) Blue ( 3C-5C or V0-V2)
Red (4C-6C or V1-V4).
Travers routes are marked by dots to know where to start and the general direction of the
The last stop – Fontainebleau town
I dedicated half a day to exploring the charming town of Fontainebleau before returning home through Paris. After a week spent climbing in the forest, it was a refreshing change to be back in civilization, especially in such a classic French location. The town centre boasts numerous beautiful castles, monuments, gardens, and fountains to admire. In addition, bakeries on every corner offered fresh, warm baguettes, savoury sandwiches, and delectable pastries that were impossible to resist. In hindsight, I would have liked to spend a night there and explore the town further.
I had a great experience at Fontainebleau. The natural scenery was stunning and the forest was well-maintained, clean, and easy to hike through. The sandstone boulders were everywhere, in a variety of shapes and climbing styles. Going alone was quite an adventure, and I am grateful for the experience.
It was meditative to be in solitude, surrounded only by the boulders and nature. I also had the opportunity to meet and watch amazing climbers, sharing my love for this beautiful sport. It’s no wonder why Fontainebleau is considered the best bouldering spot in the world.