Buoux – Climbing in Provence, France
Most of the 450 routes offered by the region, go through slightly overhanging, sometimes vertical walls. Famous Buoux pockets require strong fingers, especially for the harder rated routes(lots of two finger pockets). Climbing is very technical – you need to be flexible, know how to position your body, and lock off. Many routes, like in sector Styx, have hard and sometimes controversial grades. Many routes are multi- pitch. A good example of an absolute classic is the three pitch, Pillar du Formis, rated 7a. Routes are well protected, however, on the higher parts of overhanging walls you can expect rather significant (for sport climbing) runouts. It is recommended to have a 60m rope, a shorter rope will not be enough to lower off most routes. It is not too difficult to locate routes, as most of them have plaques with names ingraved at the bottom.
The region became well known in the 80’s when a few routes of extreme difficulty were put up, and the popular opinion is that the best routes go at 7a and up. That being said, Buoux is also a great region for intermediate climbers offering over 200 routes at 6a-6c – many very beautiful lines. Some of the popular classics of the region inlude: La Rose de Sable 7a, No Man’s Land 7a+, Reve du Papillon 8a.
You can climb in Buoux all year, but the best season is from April – May and from September - November (last being best for projecting hard routes). Taking temperature into consideration, it is usually best to climb in the mornings and evenings.
Les Cedres (Apt): in season it is often crowded, but the great atmosphere of nearby village, easy access to shops, cafes, and farmers market, make up for the inconveniences.
Bonnieux: smaller, but more popular due to higher elevation and lower temperatures.
Hotels, appartment and rooms for rent:
It is not difficult to find a place to sleep in Apt or Bonnieux. There are many hotels, apartments and rooms available for tourists. You can find current information on the web: www.gites-de-france.fr or by calling the following number: 04 90 74 03 18.
Bjoux region is located in Provence, which is well known for its food. The kitchen is known mainly for its vegetable dishes prepared with garlic and olive oil.
Specialties of the region:
Ratatouille – vegetable dish with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and eggplant.
Bouillabaisse – seafood soup with lots of garlic.
You can try these dishes in most local restaurants, however, if it is not in the budget it might be worth buying a local cook book and taking the classic recipies with you. All of the original products can be purchased at local markets.
For those who prefer their ‘regular’ menu, there are many supermarkets (chains like Le Clerc and Intermarche) where you can buy everything you need. It is worth noticing the impressive variety of cheeses and wine at good prices, as well as, delicious baked products.
THINGS TO SEE
Apt is a small town with a population of 10,000 that is worth visiting during your stay. The XI century ST. Ann’s Cathedral is among one of main historical attractions. Wednesday and Saturday local flea and farmers markets are also popular among tourists.
Bonnieux is also an interesting place to visit. It is worth taking a walk on its historical streets to enojy the atmosphere. Some of the other attractions include the XI century church, ceramic stores, and the bread museum.
Avignon, is located a bit farther, but historically also very interesting. It offers an interesting history lesson from times when there were seven popes, simultaneously!!
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is another village worth visiting. The beauty of this village was captured in paintings by Vincent van Gogh.
Another great way to see the region is to rent a bike. There are many wonderful trails leading to historical and/or beautiful spots.
Photos by Christian Pfanzelt, www.christian-pfanzelt.de