Weeks 27 and 28 (3–16 July 2023)

Summer summer summer. It's been really hot (above 30 °C every day for the last two weeks), dry and sunny, markets are overcrowded after 9 am, night markets are happening daily, we're climbing a bit less often because our gym is closed for the summer and because of the heat outside, though we did do our first multipitch routes. My parents are visiting right now and things will likely remain busy until the end of August: these notes might be sparse or delayed!

First multipitch climb

...with our climbing instructor F at Les Actis1. Learned how multipitch climbing generally works and a bunch of new techniques: belaying with a reverso from the bottom and from the top, setting up an anchor when there's no chain between the two points, belaying two climbers at once, etc. Feet hurt because I can't keep my climbing shoes on for very long, climbers apparently have dedicated multipitch shoes that are less tight—I had to remove my shoes at each anchor, being careful not to drop them, and clip them on my harness while belaying.

The route itself, Alien vs. Predator, was beautiful, great views over the Chassezac river about 60 m below, 4 easy pitches including a traverse and two sections in caves. Rappel down (more new techniques).

We climbed roughly from 9 am until 2 pm, but then instead of going home or for a swim or for lunch, F got us to give a shot at a 6b, one of the easy couennes at Les Actis. Both C and I managed to hangdog it, might be able to send it sometime.

Trip to the gorges de de la Jonte

A short improvised trip for my 28th birthday! C and I stayed at a campground in Meyrueis for a couple of nights. It was great to discover this part of Lozère! It is very similar to Ardèche (it's three hours drive but only 80 km away as the crow flies, right on the other side of the Cévennes) with a lot of nature sports, hiking canoeing canyoning caving climbing.

Some highlights:

  • vultures! Unfortunately we missed the "maison des vautours", a small museum about vultures in the area, must do next time
  • the many viewpoints over the gorges. Views over the Jonte and the village of Le Rozier from the sentier des corniches, views over the Tarn at the Roc des Hourtous
  • a short bird-themed hike (about 1.5 h) from the Roc des Hourtous with explanatory panels dotted along the path
  • learning new plant names by feeding pictures into PlantNet until the app crashed, achillée épervière inule millepertuis campanule raiponce scabieuse...
  • eating wild strawberries!
  • beers from the Brasseurs de la Jonte, some barrel-aged, found everywhere in the area. Our campsite was minutes from the brewery but we didn't make it there: another for our next visit
  • sheep milk ice cream from Armand et Marie on the Causse Méjan, the limestone plateau between the gorges de la Jonte and the gorges du Tarn, with flowery grassland and herding since the neolithic
  • and of course the main reason for our trip: our second multipitch climb!

Second multipitch climb

We climbed Biotone with N, a local climbing instructor, another 4-pitch route with longer pitches than Alien vs. Predator (see above) so this time we climbed 100 m and ended up some 400 m above the Jonte (the approach from the road is a 300 m hike up to the bottom of the wall).

Another beautiful climb, much harder than the first with a tough 6a+ pitch (hangdogged), incredible rock formations (we emerged right by the Vase de Sèvre, google it), vultures constantly flying overhead or under us (underhead?) along the wall. The hardest overall were the ambient 35 °C and the fact that the gorges de la Jonte walls are South-facing—we drank a lot of water used a lot of sunscreen and survived.

We bought the topo for he gorges de la Jonte at a small corner shop, didn't expect to find it there but the owner said she stocks it since climbing is so popular in the area, only not so much in the height of the summer (too hot). We'll be back!

Bouldering at Casteljau

Went a few times with N, B, and A before and after the gorges de la Jonte trip. Usually evenings with drinks and snacks, once in the morning with croissants and a thermos of coffee, Berlin memories.

We worked on a blue circuit, Boukaro Banzaï, in the La Ramade sector. Very happy with sending La prouesse, a 6a+ traverse with a "hard" mention on the topo, after attempts over two sessions. I'm liking outdoor bouldering more and more now that we're getting more comfortable with the sectors and with the rock.

Plum season

...is starting! The plums in the garden are not quite ready yet but the ones at N's near Les Vans are very, very ripe. We went to his house for a barbecue and left with kilos and kilos of plum in buckets and bags. The jams were urgently made before the round juicy blue plums turned into liquor, C made two clafoutis, and I'm still working through eating the rest of the round juicy and nicely sour yellow plums.

Walking through the forest to go for a swim in the Lande we stumbled upon another plum tree with small, oval, juicy mirabelle-like yellow plums. We shook the plums off the tree and brought two kilos back in a beach towel.

Next week, the plums in the garden (yet another varietal, more fleshy and less sour with a softer skin) will be ripe and we'll make more jams pies preserves.

Besides plums the season is now in full swing, with the first tomatoes aubergines, more zucchini, the last potatoes and much much more. We buy veggies at the market but have difficulty working through it because there's so much everywhere and the hot weather calls for light, fresh meals with salads cucumber cheese. I'll try to make ratatouille preserves.

Parents are visiting again

They're back here for a week or so, last time in April feels like yesterday, time flies.

Besides plenty of eating and apéros, we went swimming in the Lande below Chazeaux, a spot I'd heard of a lot but never been to, a bit far from the road (though there might be a shortcut) but not too many people and a large, deep puddle where it's possible to jump in from the side up to 10 m, vertiginous and long falls but super fun, had been a while I hadn't jumped from so high.

We also went to the night market in Chirols, one that C and I had been to on our first or second trip together to Ardèche in the spring and summer of 2016, 7 years ago. The market seems to have grown a lot but the bakery is still there, the brewery across the street, and this time we caught a small circus act, the first by La 3 et demie, a group of 5 friends who met at circus school and decided to tour the Ardèche night markets by bike, amateurish but still pretty impressive.

Oh and we've had some of the best food we tried so far in the region, at the Mas de la Madeleine! Wonderful birthday dinner on a terrasse overlooking Largentière, F knows the owner (of course) so they spent some time catching up while the rest of us were having cheese and dessert.





  1. most of the site is hard sport routes graded 7 and higher, but there's an odd 4-pitch route with pitches graded between 4 and 5.