La Belle Fontaine
July 14, 2009 6:27 AM   Subscribe

A friend and I are looking at going to boulder in Fontainebleau, France in the early part of August. We don't have a car. What's our best way to get around?

We'll be flying from the UK, with the intent of landing in Paris and taking the train to Fontainebleau. We also plan on camping while we're there, which as near as I can tell leaves us near Milly la ForĂȘt.

It seems that our best options are either renting a car (if we rent one from Hertz at Charles de Gaulle, I think it's around 350 Euro for a week), or renting bicycles, or walking around. As I understand the area to be fairly large, that last option seems to be not the best one.

So what's our best bet? Would it be utterly ridiculous to try and get around completely on foot, or to carry a crash pad and whatever other gear we have on a bicycle? Should we just suck it up and rent a car for the week?

Also, is this completely dumb to do in August? All of the guidebooks and advice that I've seen suggest that it's best in the winter, that the warm summer temperatures make the rocks there... iffy to climb on, other than morning and evening.

Is there anything else that I should know about before going? Any advice about the area? Rocks I Should Not Miss Climbing On?
posted by vernondalhart to Travel & Transportation around Fontainebleau, France (4 answers total)
I went a good few years ago, we hired a car, it's far too far to walk between areas. Bikes might do but I wouldn't want to manhandle a crash mat on one.

That said, if you're following the circuits you won't really need a crash mat, just a little square of carpet to clean your shoes (some of the circuits feel like the bouldering version of orienteering).

As for the weather, well the rock is sandstone, lots and lots of slopers... if it's hot and you're as sweaty as I am you are not going to have a good time in August. Still, I'm pretty sure you can find shady problems, climb in the morning/evening (sorry I can't be more specific, my guidebook is in another country and my memory for names of problems is terrible)... it's a fantastic place, enjoy.
posted by itsjustanalias at 7:12 AM on July 14, 2009

There is a lot of info that a simple google search yields, including a web site devoted exclusively to bouldering in Fontainebleau: Site
posted by dfriedman at 7:18 AM on July 14, 2009

Response by poster: To be fair, those sites don't really seem to (as near as I can tell) tell me much about how easy or hard it is to get around without a car, which is the main thrust of the question.
posted by vernondalhart at 9:01 AM on July 14, 2009

Just some thoughts . . .

Not sure if you've booked anything yet, but I would avoid flying into Paris-Beauvais airport (usually that's RyanAir) if at all possible - it's quite far from town and can present additional challenges and costs depending on when your flights are scheduled. You can hop on some sort of train in CDG (tip: do anything you can to use the automatic machines there rather than wait in line) and then you are in the train network. Handy.

If camping to save cash, consider cheap hotel plus bikes versus camping plus car. But if you are too far away from town for bikes, at least try renting the car in Fontainebleau or an outer suburb of Paris; this might be cheaper than at CDG? Or you might need it for two fewer days if you pick it up the day after you arrive. And, depending how comfortable you are with driving, Paris is pretty crazy compared to a smaller centre like Fontainebleau.

If you do have a car, for meals I recommend leaving the highway for the nearest small town rather than the generic rest-stop restaurants. A car would also give you a certain freedom to tour around when you are not bouldering, which might nice if you are there for a week.

I'm not into climbing, so no tips there.
posted by warcode at 1:58 PM on July 20, 2009

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