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This photo essay first appeared in Climbing No. 376, in Spring 2021.
France’s geologic wonders are as breathtaking as they are limitless, from the limestone precipices of the Verdon Gorge to the sandstone blocs of Fontainebleau—and let’s not overlook the granite aiguilles above Chamonix or the balmy seaside cragging of Les Calanques. Wherever your eyes land, this nation of fine food and vin rouge delivers in abundance. Lesser known are its myriad smaller crags and cliffs, places of similar grandeur where you may find yourself the only climbers not speaking French—or perhaps the only climbers at all.
What follows is a sampling of France’s unique rock architecture, as seen through the lens of the renowned climbing photographer Sam Bié.