IGN’s latest lavishly illustrated French language guide in an excellent series provides climbers and hill-walkers with pointers to a range of opportunities from the Grande Arête and Grande Chandelle on the Calanques cliffs to the Dentelles de Montmirail further north where the vines grow underneath the crags.
An introductory section lists useful organizations, guides, accommodation addresses, maps. As with the earlier guides to the Vanoise and Mont Blanc regions, the Provence guide picks out scores of local crags and fine hill-walks throughout the area that visitors might otherwise fail to discover. There is the Rocher Saint-Julien for example above Buis-les-Baronnies in the Ouzeve valley, a mini-Tryfan with about 100 routes at all grades or the countless smaller crags in the Luberon where you just take off anywhere.
The section on the Calanques gives potential non-tiger newcomers a decidedly encouraging view of the place with pictures so good you can feel the heat bouncing off the limestone and smell and hear the sea. Walking and scrambling — mainly circuits — in the area is given generous space. I suspect most climbers will find the guide useful as highlighting a thousand ways of escaping bad weather in the Alps.
The layout of information is easily accessible even to those with modest French. The guide is listed at FFr115 and can be obtained easily through The Map Shop, 15 High Street, Upton-upon-Severn, Worcs WR8 OHJ Tel 01684-593146; fax 594559 or themapshop @btinternet.com.
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