Rising to 800 meters above sea level, Saint-Jeannet’s cliffs dominate this lively medieval village.
Located just 30 minutes inland from Nice, Saint-Jeannet has more than 460 climbing routes covering the ‘Baou’ an imposing limestone cliff-face jutting skywards from the village.
From the top, the panorama is incredible. You can see the sea, the Esterel mountains, Italy, the Alps, and on a clear day, as far as Corsica.
Nearly 10,000 climbers and hikers reach the top each year. Hikers can reach the summit reasonably easily in an hour and a half on a trail that winds up the mountainside.
The Baou, a Provencal word meaning ‘steep rock’ saves its challenge for climbers, who’ll find over 467 documented routes most of which fall within the 5c to 6C European sports climbing grades.
Although there is some trad climbing, the routes are mostly bolted, and there has been huge emphasis placed on safety with Nice Cote d’Azur council placing 1,888 anchor points on the cliff, which also serve to protect the rock from erosion. All climbing routes are open to the public year round.
Saint-Jeannet has been on the south of France climbing radar for quite some time and as such some of the routes are well worn and aren’t as suitable as they might have been for the beginner climber.
But, there are a huge number of routes to choose from, a really pleasant wooded and thus shaded area to set up and belay from, and the site is well managed with a few hundred routes having been recently re-bolted. Despite this, Saint-Jeannet is probably oriented more towards traditional rock climbing than pure sports climbing because although it is bolted, you do need to have your wits about you.
As for Saint-Jeannet’s long routes, these are now classic climbs, as famous as the rock itself that juts like the bow of a ship over the village. The advice is to get hold of a copy the Topo of the Maritime Alps, and read up on any of the routes you attempt. Some routes are reasonably easy and fully bolted, whilst others rely on the added thrill of placing gear.
Saint-Jeannet is located 23km from Nice, near the market town of Vence.
From Nice, take the RD6202 towards Vence, Gattieres, then Le Vignoble de Saint-Jeannet.
Take the SNCF regional train or bus number 52 from J.C. Bermond station in Nice to Saint-Laurent-du-Var (get off at the Centre Commercial), then take bus number 47 or 55 from Vence to Saint-Jeannet.