A brief dip into Provence followed by a deja vu dash

As autumnal weather begins to make itself felt, we headed a bit further south and to lower altitude into Provence. The Alpilles, centred on Saint-Remy, are a range of modest limestone lumps in a chain stretching for about 25km.

There are half a dozen significant crags and we had a vague plan to visit these over a forecasted week or two of sunny weather.

Mont Gaussier, just a couple of km from our base in Saint-Remy, was our first port of call – west-facing, so allowing for a leisurely start. Sector Cluckers is conveniently roadside and has a few routes which get the first of the sun. We arrived to find a middle-aged German effectively “putting a towel down” on all three of these routes for his family, who were due to arrive shortly. Hrmmm…

Heading instead to the other end of the crag, we settled on sector Tisseurs d’Or, which we had to ourselves. A glorious 40m wall of vertical pockety limestone.

L’Eperon des Alpilles is a stunning arete bounding the right hand end of the crag (watch out for a hidden lower off as the arete blurs into the ridge, rather than get lulled into following the bolts up the ridge, unless you want a 2-pitch adventure).

Our splendid solitude was shattered by the arrival of our new German friend and his family.

We did the adjacent L’Amie Dalle, 6a+, but a much stiffer proposition. This was accompanied by a comedy tirade from along the crag – every time he fell off (which was regularly). Plenty of vocabulary that I hadn’t covered in my one year of O Level German and reminiscent of a much parodied scene from a famous movie. By the end of it, the rest of the crag was in stitches!

Here is Herr Grump mid-rant on the outstanding, and admittedly massively under-graded, Lève toi et Marche – 6a+ but I’ve done easier 6cs!

Fab views of the other buttresses, the rolling Alpilles and the pretty town of Saint-Remy.

Our two-months continental adventure has taken us to dozens of new crags, partly guided by the developing pandemic and associated regulations. Keeping on top of the breaking news of infection rates, and the complexity of border restrictions and quarantine conditions, has been a pretty much full time job. As we settled down for a post-climb beer, rumours in the French media started to emerge of an announcement by President Macron the following evening, prompting a strong sense of Deja Vu. Sure enough, come 8pm the lockdown was announced – at least we had more than the 14hrs notice we had in March, and were able to make a fairly leisurely journey to Calais.

A couple of days later it was Bozzer’s turn to broadcast more doom. Looks like RockAroundTheWorld is well and truly grounded for a while, but we’ll try to keep you amused with the occasional Retrospective from happier times. Stay Home; Protect the NHS; Save Lives and PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP 🙂

One response to “A brief dip into Provence followed by a deja vu dash

  1. Fiona did the 6a+arete in fine stile then I followed saving myself for the 6a+ Leve toi le Marche but ran out of steam halfway, glad you found it hard, at up least you did it

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