Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fontainebleu & Paris

Back in January we had signed up for two camp expos in Paris at  2 bi-lingual schools through an organization called Camp Experts.  We had originally thought we'd stay in Paris, after all it's our favorite city.  But then we decided that we had been to Paris many times and that maybe we'd stay about 30 minutes south in a town called Fontainebleu.  Fontainebleu is famous for its chateau but also for its bouldering.  Bouldering is a style of rock climbing undertaken without a rope and normally limited to very short climbs over a crash pad so that a fall will not result in serious injury.  It's typically practiced on large natural boulders outside or on plastic holds inside.  It's super fun.

The region around Fontainebleu is particularly famous for its beautiful and concentrated bouldering areas.  French alpine climbers practiced bouldering there since the 19th century.  It remains today a prime climbing location.  It is the biggest and most developed bouldering area in the world.  The climbing areas are located in the forested areas that surrounds the town.  There are thousands of boulders and endless problems.

Our friend Chris is visiting from Colorado and he's a big climber.  We thought it would be fun to stay in Fontainebleu and boulder during the day and then take the train in to Paris for our camp expos.  We stayed at the Hotel Victoria and it was great.  Spacious rooms, new bathrooms, clean, lovey people, centrally located in the town, parking and they take dogs (although the 12 euro breakfast is a rip off).  We decided the goldens would stay with our friends Sara and Sharon and Stella would come with us.  She needed a bit of special time with us.

We arrived on Sunday night, just in time for dinner.  Our camp expos were Monday night and Tuesday night, so we figured we could climb in the am/early afternoon.  We climbed on Monday and then mid-afternoon took the train into Paris. Chris had never been to Paris and neither had Stella, so they both went with us.  Stella had a great time on the train into Paris and then she took the metro.  We walked around the left bank and showed Chris the sites.  Then we left him to wander and we went to our first expo.  After the expo we met some friends for dinner and Stella even came into the restaurant with us.  All was going great until we tried to get to the Gare de Lyon.  The train going into the Gare was closed, so we had to walk over from the left bank.  We missed the 2nd to the last train leaving Paris, so we got the last train out.  Everything was going fine until the conductor mumbled "something" in French and we didn't quite catch all of it.  Some people got off and then some people stayed on the train so we weren't sure what he said.  15 minutes later Bruce said "we should have been to Fontainebleu 10 minutes ago".  Then we passed another station and another and finally stopped 5 stations away from Fontainebleu.  It's now 12:30 am.  It was the last train in and out.  We found out that the conductor announced that they were working on the tracks and if you wanted to go to Fontainebleu or the other 4 stops after you had to get off the train and take a bus.  So now we were 30 km away from Fontainebleu in the middle of the night.  Luckily the workers were still at the station and they were so nice.  They called us a taxi and he was there in less than 5 minutes.  50 euros later we were at our hotel.  What a day!

Tuesday was beautiful and warm and we bouldered again the am and headed into Paris a bit later this time.  Chris and Stella stayed in Fontainebleu and did some more bouldering on their own.  Our expo was in the 15th, we didn't do any walking around, we just took the train in and the metro over to the school and then headed back to Fontainebleu around 8:00 pm.  But it wasn't easy getting home again, there was an accident on the tracks (we think the incoming train hit a car) and it was delayed for 1/2 hour.  So we waited and waited.  Finally our train left Paris.  We had thought we'd get in at 8:00 pm, but with the delay and the slow moving train we didn't arrive until almost 10 pm.

We were going to leave on Wednesday to come home, but the weather was so beautiful and we wanted to spend a whole day in Fontainebleu that we decided to stay another night.  So glad we did, it was so much fun, we bouldered all day and then went for a great meal that night.

It was a super fun 4 days and only 6 hours from our home in St Antonin.  We'll be back, for sure.  I loved the town of Fonatinebleu and you're only 30 minutes by train into Paris.  I highly recommend a visit there if you have never been.  And, we got a few sign ups for our summer camps, so it was all worth while.

Stella on the train into Paris


more bouldering

there they are

stella doing a bit of bouldering

trying a hard problem

but it did it

just chilling


MathieuandGigi said...

FYI...Fontainebleu is famous for it's chateau but also for it's bouldering (its, not it's). I know, picky, picky.

molly said...

wow. all this makes me miss my early years of rock climbing...but i haven't been in 20 years! lordy, i don't even know if i can move like that anymore! ha!