Franchard Isatis is a bouldering site located in the Gorges de Franchard, which is part of the Fontainebleau Forest. These are called Gorges, despite the fact that it is has no canyon, a lot of trees, a mixture of sand and earth on the ground, and numerous boulders around. It might take its name from the few "hills" that give some relief there, compared to other areas of the forest that are very flat. Another strange word designating the site is Isatis, as it is the arctic fox. None was seen around though ! It was given by the first climbers in early 20th century, for a reason only known to themselves !
Franchard Isatis tends to be a popular place as it has a high concentration of boulders with almost 350 routes of all grades. It is therefore crowded on weekends, but be reassured, there is engouh to keep you busy all day long ! The best time to climb there is October to May. As it is grit stone, the rock quality is superior when it's cold.
NB : the Gorges de Franchard have some other boulder areas : Sablons, Hautes-Plaines and Cuisinière (see the map below for access).
From Paris :
Drive on the highway A6 for about 40 kms. Take the exit mentionning "Fontainebleau", to catch road N37. After 3 kms turn right on D50 to go through Fleury-en-Bière, to go onto road D11. It will take you throught St Martin en Biere and Macherin before reaching the junction with road D409 (5 to 6 kms from Fleury). Then turn right for another 1,5 kms, until you see a trail called "Route du Loup" on your left. Another 500 meters on a dodgy road, and you're there !
From the car park:
There are only 50 meters to walk to reach the first boulders. No wonder why it is a popular place !
Red Tape & Camping
You can climb without any restriction in this area.
In theory it is forbidden to camp in the Fontainebleau Forest. However if you are respectful of the environment and do not lit a fire, nobody should bother you. There is no running water around. Take your trash away with you, when you leave.
There is no running water around. Take your trash away with you, when you leave.
Fontainebleau (nearby) will offer everything you need for food, accomodation and petrol.
For tourist information, clic here : Office du Tourisme
Franchard Isatis has 4 marked circuits and another 2 unmarked ones, with various difficuty. In total more than a hundred boulders with almost 350 routes. Bear in mind that the boulder grading system in Fontainebleau is different from the French grades. 5c on a Fontainebleau boulder would be equivalent to 6b on a cliff (two letters difference more or less).
o Orange circuit with an overall difficulty of AD+ (44 routes from 2b to 4a)
o Blue circuitwith an overall difficulty of D (50 routes from 2b to 5b)
o Red circuit with an overall difficulty of TD (47 routes from 4b to 5c)
o White circuit with an overall difficulty of ED- (50 routes from 5b to 6b+)
o Easy circuit with an overall difficulty of PD+ (40 routes from 2ba to 3a)
o Difficult circuit with an overall difficulty of ABO (27 routes from 7a to 8b)
o L'escalade à Fontainebleau - Les plus beaux blocs et circuits d'escalade
by Jacky Godoffe (Editions Arhtaud - 1999)
o Escalade à Bleau - Tome 2 written and edited by the Cosiroc organization (2001)
Map : IGN 24170T (scale 1:25 000)
Weather forecast : Meteo France > Fontainebleau