Dreaming of the Sea

After two months of hard-working, studying and training, we used the opportunity to take three weeks off and to escape the busy daily life in Karlsruhe. Actually, we were to busy to figure out a concrete plan so we just added two big points on our holiday-want-to-do-list: Luca wished to see the sea again and...

After two months of hard-working, studying and training, we used the opportunity to take three weeks off and to escape the busy daily life in Karlsruhe. Actually, we were to busy to figure out a concrete plan so we just added two big points on our holiday-want-to-do-list: Luca wished to see the sea again and I picked climbing. With that manageable todo-list in mind, we packed our van and just drove through France into the south towards the sea. At this point in time, we did not know, that this should be our last trip for the following months …

After passing countless small, but wonderful French villages and several little stops at some wonderful French bakeries later, we finally stopped near Saint-Léger-du-Ventoux in Southern France to stay some days.

I had been in St. Léger two years ago and just fell in love with these huge and endless walls hidden the valleys of Southern France. Following the river at the valley ground, you can reach the beginning of the cliff within a few minutes. The main wall is heading towards the South and gets a lot of sun during the day which makes it a perfect spot to climb in spring and autumn. The sectors on the other side of the valley are heading towards the North and allow it to climb even during hotter days.

Azure blue bay in the Calanques …

The rock in St. Léger consists of (mostly) solid limestone with some impressive tufa structures. To have fun in this area you actually should climb between 7b+ and 9a as the best routes start above 7b+. Most of the easier routes can only be recommended restrictedly as they are quite tough for the grade or of poor rock quality. However, there are endless good and impressive routes in the higher grades which are a lot of fun to climb.

If you search for easier routes or need some variety, we can recommend the smaller crags around Saint Léger du Ventoux like Mollans-sur-ouvez or La carrière du Maupas. Especially Mollans offers some interesting rock structures and a lot of routes in all grades. And even though the routes are much shorter and the rock is more fragile, it is definitely worth a day. With ‘La double peine’ (8a), I was able to climb one of the classics in Mollans and a real eyecatcher …

The little marina of Cassis …

After a tough week of climbing, it was time for the other point on our want-to-do holiday list: seeing the sea. After a quick research and some tips from friends, Luca and I decided to visit the Calanques near Marseilles. The Calanques are a French national park along the Mediterranean coastline. It is well known for its wild cliffs and the azure blue bays. The Calanques are a true paradise and its nature is of unbelievable beauty. We accessed the park from Cassis, which is a small village consisting of some luxury mansions directly at the coastline and a small yacht harbor hidden in a long bay with azure blue water. Walking through the park, you can discover the unique coastline and even climb on the white cliffs with the sea in your back.

I would strongly recommend to access the Calanques from Cassis and avoid the areas around Marseilles with a car from a foreign country. We heard a lot of stories of broken up cars and robbed people. Even in Cassis, you should seek for extra secured parking places with video and security guards or leave your car at the campsite. Happily, we got warned in advance as this still seems to bee a great problem in Southern France …

The beauty of the Mediterranean coast …

After two days discovering the Calanques and the excellent restaurants in the marina of Cassis, we returned to Saint Léger du Ventoux spending the rest of our trip with climbing. And we got some unexpected company by two climbing friends: Simon and Felix who actually wanted to visit the Calanques too, but nearly got robbed sleeping in their car on a public highway parking place near Marseilles. Done with their nerves they decided to join us climbing in Saint Léger instead of staying in the South.

And so we got some joyful days around St. Léger climbing together for the following week, sending our projects and searching for the next challenging line. I am especially grateful to send ‘La farce tranquille’ (7c+/8a) which is an amazing route and ‘Slip bouse’ (8a+) which was quite challenging.

Yacht harbor hidden in a bay …

Returning home events have taken a turn for the worse: Covid 19 has made traveling impossible for the following months. And especially in this difficult time, I am thankful for the impressions of this and the previous climbing trips, all the friends around me, and the long days of climbing free of any worries.

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