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CASSIS, FRANCE | JUNE 4-10, 2023 | ALL GENDERS WELCOME
“In France we have a saying, ‘Joie de vivre,’ which actually doesn’t exist in the English language. It means looking at your life as something that is to be taken with great pleasure, and to enjoy it.”
– Mireille Guiliano
We're certainly not the first ones to fall in love with the south of France, Provence, or the Calanques, but we also don't see any reason why you shouldn't be next. And don't take our word for it either - the sun, sea, food, wine and rocks can definitely speak for themselves, and their accent is pretty great too.
One of Europe's best-loved and most unique climbing areas, the cliffs around Cassis and Les Calanques might host some of the prettiest climbing on Earth as well. We sometimes describe it as a bit like a limestone Red Rocks, except in France and on the water. Unlike Vegas, however (no offense Nevada), Cassis and Cap Canaille are about as perfect a backdrop as you as you can get. On the sun-drenched southern coast, we're talking about the birthplace of rosé, bouillabaisse, aioli and much much more, but we're also talking about genuinely world-class climbing routes, food, scenery and beaches, not to mention all the rest of what gives Provence its, well you know - je ne sais quoi.*
This will be our first retreat in the Calanques, and we could not be more excited!
(*Je ne sais quoi is French for 'I don't know what,' or a certain something that's definitely good, but hard to put your finger on. )
While everyone usually refers to the area as Les Calanques (which means "The Coves") we'll actually be climbing in two completely different areas over the course of our retreat. The Calanques are a series of steep-walled, gorgeous inlets that dot the coastline of France's southernmost region, Provence. The area in the photos above is the Calanque d'en Vau, and just Google that for an idea of what this place looks like.
These offer amazing climbs on perfect limestone similar to what you might find on some of our other retreats in Sicily or Greece, but what makes the area so unique are the routes' proximity to the sea. Many of the cliffs in Les Calanques are perched right over the water, making for crags with unreal views, and multipitch climbs with the waves crashing below. Some of the most fun are actually traverses, moving more sideways than upwards before culminating in a final climb to the top.
But that's only half of the story with climbing in Cassis, because Cap Canaille - France's highest sea cliff - also sits right above town. Not only is it big, it's also made of completely different rock. A mix of sandstone and conglomerates, the climbs are wildly steep and exposed, yet not nearly as difficult as they look thanks to massive holds and craftily-devised routes. One She Moves Mountains alum who climbed there this year described it as simply the most fun she'd ever had climbing.
Like all of our retreats, this trip is perfect for climbers of any skill level, and is a great place to push your limits, work on your lead game, or just enjoy the ride. If you feel comfortable climbing 5.8-5.10 in the gym, this trip is going to be perfect for you. Unlike the cracks of Yosemite or the tiny holds of Smith Rock, Mediterranean limestone tends to be a more fun, more straightforward, or both.
Each day we’ll head out in small groups and make sure you’re paired with climbers and climbs that match your ability so you don’t have to worry about being held back or pushed too far. Our expert guides will help you through it all both on the ground and on route.
If you're not familiar with Provence's reputation among travelers, it's long been known for being sunny, gorgeous, and stacked with beautiful beaches, picturesque villages, delicious food, great wine, and friendly locals. Even amongst the French, the region has a reputation as a vacation destination par excellence. The problem for most visitors tends to be not wanting to leave.
Now that you've been warned, you can plan accordingly. We've also timed this trip so that you can enjoy the start of summer to its fullest, and we think you're going to like it in Cassis. The town is located in between the city of Marseille to the west and the famed Cote d'Azur (think St. Tropez, Cannes and Nice) to the east. Cassis itself is a small, but thoroughly charming port town surrounded by hills, cliffs and vineyards.
Our home for the week will be the picturesque Hotel de la Plage Mahogany. Perched just above the sea and moments from the beach, it's just minutes to town, and its amenities include a spa and sauna, two restaurants, and a cocktail bar. The rooms are simple but well-appointed, and the views are great.
For breakfast, the hotel offers a buffet of pastries, local cheeses, breads, eggs, fruits and more. A variety of lunch and snack options are available at the many cafes and markets that line the streets just a short walk from your doorstep, and for dinner, we'll start and end the trip at some of our favorite local spots, where you can tuck into a variety of Provencal and French favorites, including amazing local seafood. You'll be on your own to explore the rest of the evenings, and with everything from pizza to fine dining within reach, we think you'll be just fine.
Retreat dates: June 4-10, 2023
Cost: $4150 to $5475 depending on room selection
Here is a link to our cancellation policy. We strongly suggest purchasing trip protection to protect your investment.
WE REQUIRE THAT ALL RETREAT PARTICIPANTS BE FULLY VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19 PRIOR TO THE RETREAT START DATE.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED:
ROOM SELECTION & PRICING:
You get yourself to Cassis and we’ll have a cozy room and a nice bed waiting for you. The nearest airport is in Marseille, just an hour's drive away. We'll help you connect with other participants to arrange shuttles, or you can rent a car or take the train. Either way, you’ll be free to arrive whenever you can, and to dip your toes into the sea or your fork into the something good at one of Cassis's many delightful restaurants. As folks will be getting in at all different times, we'll officially start the trip with breakfast the following day.
We’ll begin trip with getting the whole team together for breakfast at the hotel, where we'll spend some time getting to know each other before we head out to climb. We’ll break into small groups and head to a variety of climbs, and our destinations will be tailored to meet everybody's goals and abilities. Wherever we go, we'll all start with a quick review of belay skills, and we'll go through lead tests for those interested in leading throughout the week. After that we'll spend the day on the rock and come back to town in time for a welcome dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.
We’ll repeat our routine again with breakfast at the hotel before heading out to climb. Some groups will again head out to crag, while we'll also continue to get folks out on multipitch climbs so that everyone can get in at least one during the week. These will be done in groups of two climbers to a guide, and the options really are limitless. They're also super unique as some climb right above the water like the one to the left! With so much to choose from, we’ll pick our objectives based on what type and difficulty of climbing folks are after, and whether we’re looking for sun or shade. After another day on the rock, we’ll come back to town again, where you'll be on your own for the evening.
Our guides will be ready to go for those who want to keep on climbing, but since most of us can't keep crushing for five days in a row, we suggest you give yourself a day to relax. What we actually suggest is that you go for a hike or a boat ride to the famous Calanque d'en Vau to beach it up for the day, then maybe poke around town or get a massage at the hotel, then relax with a nice glass of wine and some dinner. But hey - that's us. You are in Provence on the French Riviera after all, so it's hard to go wrong.
You guessed it: we’ll start the day again with breakfast and once more head out to climb. We'll also try to reshuffle our groups and guides depending on skill levels and goals, and we'll try our best to make sure everyone gets a chance to climb as many routes as they want.
We’ll once again start with breakfast and this will be our last climbing day of the trip. It will also be our last night together, so we'll make it a special one with a farewell dinner and drinks.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and you’ll have to go home. Well - you don't have to go home exactly, but you'll be free to head wherever you're off to next (and we’ll miss you, of course). You're also welcome to stick around for another day or two of multipitch climbing with our amazing guides (see below for details).
Because there are so many incredible routes in the area, we're going to have guides available for two days at the end of the retreat in case you want to add on another day or two of climbing. We'll be sure to get you out on at least one multipitch climb during the retreat (unless you don't want to), but that means you'll only have scratched the surface. As we'll have guides available on the 10th and 11th, that means you can either stay one extra day to climb on the 10th and leave the 11th, do two extra days, or take a rest day and then climb the 11th and leave the 12th.
Each guide can accommodate up to two people per day, and multipitch guiding is available for booking on a first-come, first-served basis. Just shoot us a note and we can get you setup. Prices are $525/day for one person and $600/day (total) for two, plus whatever extra nights you need in the hotel. Contact us for details and we promise you'll love it!
IFMGA Mountain Guide
Cristina was born in Romania and worked as a civil engineer before trading the professional life for a career in the mountains. She also traded in an athletic career as a track and field athlete for one as a competitive climber. Cristina loves every aspect of the mountain world, and has won numerous bouldering, sport c
IFMGA Mountain Guide
Cristina was born in Romania and worked as a civil engineer before trading the professional life for a career in the mountains. She also traded in an athletic career as a track and field athlete for one as a competitive climber. Cristina loves every aspect of the mountain world, and has won numerous bouldering, sport climbing and ice climbing competitions, and has even competed at the Ice Climbing World Cup. In addition to that, she’s also got an impressive alpine resume complete with high altitude climbs and Himalayan first ascents. When she’s not guiding in the Alps around her adopted home of Chamonix, she can usually be found somewhere skiing in the backcountry or busy crushing Mediterranean limestone.
IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide / AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Originally from Seattle, Erin grew up skiing and climbing in the Cascades of Washington State and has since traveled and worked in mountain ranges around the world including Norway, Alaska, the Himalayas, and the Alps. She has pioneered first ski descents across the globe, has been moun
IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide / AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Originally from Seattle, Erin grew up skiing and climbing in the Cascades of Washington State and has since traveled and worked in mountain ranges around the world including Norway, Alaska, the Himalayas, and the Alps. She has pioneered first ski descents across the globe, has been mountain guiding since 2010, and lives in La Grave, France. In addition to working year round in the mountains, she is also a freelance writer and has been published in outdoor magazines from Backcountry to Alpinist.
IFMGA Mountain Guide Aspirant
Silvia was born in Padova, near Italy’s Dolomites, to a family in love with the mountains. She too fell in love early, and has spent most of her life pursuing her two passions: the mountains and travelling. Silvia lives and works these days in the heart of the Dolomites, and has chased her vertical dreams thro
IFMGA Mountain Guide Aspirant
Silvia was born in Padova, near Italy’s Dolomites, to a family in love with the mountains. She too fell in love early, and has spent most of her life pursuing her two passions: the mountains and travelling. Silvia lives and works these days in the heart of the Dolomites, and has chased her vertical dreams through the Dolomites and the Alps, and to Patagonia, Nepal, and in many other corners of the world that offer beautiful walls to climb. Passionate about climbing in all its forms, from the crag, to training, to big walls, Silvia does it all. She is one exam away from completing her certification, and we hope she’ll be joining us as a full IFMGA Mountain Guide this summer!
About half of our of climbers come to our retreats alone. Often we do have groups of friends who sign up together, and we also have couples pretty often, but we also have a lot of people just come by themselves looking to meet people and make new friends. If you are hesitating to join because you would be coming solo, please know that we expect a lot of our participants to be joining by themselves.
We generally have a wide range of ages at our retreats. The average tends to fall between the ages of 25 and 45, but we have had quite a few climbers in their 60's join as well. It really is up to the attitude and physical ability of the participant.
You do not need to be an experienced climber to attend, but we recommend some climbing experience before signing up for a week of climbing. We recommend that everyone attending is able to top-rope a 5.9 in a climbing gym without taking or falling. While climbing 5.9 in a climbing gym is different than climbing a 5.9 outside, having the ability to climb 5.9 in the gym will set you up to have a great time in Cassis.
No sweat. Our guides are all world-class instructors and will be happy to show you the ropes (pun intended). In all seriousness though, you do not need any mulitpitch experience whatsoever to enjoy multipitch climbs on this retreat. We'll teach you everything you need to know, and all you need to do is come willing to learn.
Probably! Lead climbing is certainly not a requirement for anybody on the trip, but we're happy to let you lead on single-pitch routes as long as you can pass a belay test similar to those found in most gyms (minus the falling). Our main goal is to keep everyone safe, so on our first day out together we’ll want to see that everyone is able to manage the rope, communicate, lead and belay safely before being cleared to do it throughout the week. If you haven't led yet but you'd like to work on lead skills throughout the week, we'll try our best to help but our priority to is to make sure everyone gets to climb as much as they want. If you don’t plan on leading, we’ll still ask you to go through a quick belay test to make sure you’re good to go belaying those who are.
The food offerings in Cassis are eclectic and international enough that you shouldn't have any trouble. We'll have a breakfast buffet at the hotel in the mornings and be at nice restaurants for the few nights we eat out together too, and we'll do our best to make sure you're taken care of. Traditional Provencal food does involves a lot of meat, seafood and dairy, but we've had celiacs, vegans and vegetarians come on our trips in the past and they did just fine. Vegetarian options are widely available, and vegans may just find navigating the French love of meat and dairy to take a little extra effort.
If the trip fills, we'll have 18 climbers and 6 guides. Our daily single-pitch groups will consist of 4-5 climbers per guide, letting us have our ropes on 2-3 routes at a time. Each day 3 guides will also take groups of 2 climbers each out multipitch climbing.
Our trips are 90% women. Men are perfectly welcome, but they tend to be outnumbered, making even these mixed gender trips a very woman-centric space. Our guide team will also predominantly be made up of women.
Summery and nice! Temperatures should be warm enough to enjoy the beach, yet cool enough in the shade to be good for climbing. You can expect highs in the 70's and 80's most days, with nights dipping down into the 60's. The average highs in June are 79°F, and June is a dry month in the area with only a few days of rain most years. Of course we can never promise the weather will be perfect, but June is a great time to be in Cassis.
You've got options. The easiest way is fly into the international airport at Marseille (about an hour west of Cassis) and to book a group shuttle with other participants. We'll help you coordinate on that one, and it's pretty easy and affordable. You can also rent a car and drive the 50 minutes to Cassis, take a taxi for about €100-150, or combine trains and buses to get to Cassis inexpensively from just about anywhere in France. We'll also help connect everyone who wants to prior to the trip to coordinate on travel arrangements.
We have two types of payment plans available.
Payment Plan 1 (Two Payments): This plan requires a 50% deposit, of which 10% of the total cost of the trip is non-refundable. Apply the discount code "retreatdeposit" at checkout. Full payment will be required three months prior to the retreat start date.
Payment Plan 2 (Monthly Payments):
This option is only available if the retreat is 5 or more months away. This plan requires a 10% deposit, of which 10% of the total cost of the trip is non-refundable. Apply the discount code "paymentplan" at checkout to take advantage of this option. We will split the remaining payment into subsequent monthly payments. Full payment will be required two months prior to the retreat start date. We charge $50 to utilize this option as it requires much more work for our team to manage.
All payment plan invoices must be paid on time. Invoices that are more than 14 days overdue are subject to cancellation. We will make every attempt to get in touch regarding overdue payments before cancellation, but we cannot hold spots for guests who are not continuing to pay for their trip.
We have a very strict cancellation policy. Please review it before committing to this retreat. We HIGHLY recommend purchasing trip protection as we will not modify our cancellation policy under any circumstances.
We strongly recommend purchasing “cancel for any reason” trip insurance to protect your investment. This must be done within two weeks from the date of registration. Ripcord and travelX are two companies that we recommend as well as the companies in THIS article.