Targasonne is a beautifully situated village located (just!) on the French side of the Pyrenees, a few kilometers south of the equally picturesque, if slightly larger, municipality of Font Romeu. The most striking geographical feature of the area is the chaotic labyrinth of boulders strewn about the surrounding hill sides. This morass of rock reaches a central concentration in and around Targasonne’s southern flank and makes for an astounding bouldering destination. Targasonne – often referred to as “The Chaos” – gained notoriety to the French climbing community around twenty years ago, when the area received visitations from a number of strong, internationally recognized, climbers, such as Jackie Godoffe, Patrick Edlinger and Patrick Berhault. These visiting legends acted as a catalyst and throughout the proceeding years the area has been developed, by locals and visiting climbers alike, into what is widely regarded as Frances second best bouldering destination – if I have to point out the first, please stop reading and leave these pages at once! In 2004 the area played host to the Petzl Rock Trip (“Targassonic”) when 500 climbers (including Lisa Rands, Chris Sharma, Dave Graham, Pedro Pons, Dany Andrada, Mauro Calibani. Chez les français, Tonio Lamiche, Jérôme Meyer, Daniel Dulac) from around the world descended on the venue, resulting in the opening up a number of hard new lines as well as raising the areas profile.Due to its altitude of 1500m the area is prime for a sojourn during spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October), and although you can climb during the summer months you will find the weather getting pretty (too) warm. On the flip side of the coin it’s worth remembering the area is essentially renowned as a ski resort, so winter visitations could be interspersed with deep snow and you could well find snow on the ground in both October and April. The mountainous Pyrenean backdrop creates a real altitude ambiance which combined with the alpine meadows, sparse woodland and, of course, the boulders themselves makes for a beautiful location. The climbing is omnifarious in style with plenty of slabs, walls and overhangs to keep you entertained. Before I visited the area I had heard tales of a rough merciless granite which, in some cases, was unpleasant to climb on. On the whole I felt this an unfair appraisal of the rock and thought it no rougher than some of the British granite found on the south west coast or in the Eskdale valley of Lakeland. That said the rock is abrasive so it’s worth pacing yourself and not attempting a problem too many times.
Best of the Rest: Obviously there are hundreds of problems (actually over a 1000!) at Targasonne and the matter of which are the best (as with anywhere) is always open to debate. When picking problems from the lower grades the mind boggles with the amount of decent problems there are, on that front I’ll leave you to explore. The following is a short list of harder problems that I felt warranted a special mention as they represent differing styles and good lines. Magic Instinct font 7c (Beleine) La Fee Verte font 7c (Taz) L'aquarium Evole font 7a+ (Taz) Agathe the Poison font 7b+ (Dieux Païens) Trait´e de d´emonologie font 7b (Beleine) Problem 40 font 7b (De L'Arche) Chrionique De La Haine Ordinaire font 7b (Canal) L’aliene font 7a+ (De L'Arche) El Hadjiz font 7b+ (Taz) Pleasure Dome (ss) font 7a+ (Dieux Païens) Guides: A new guide book, authored by Fred Bertin, was produced in spring 2007. This contains details of 17 areas inhabited by over 1000 boulder problems from fb2 to fb8b. This can be purchased from La Griole campsite (in Targasonne) or from Rock + Run. UPDATE: Le Chaos of Targasonne supply is patchy and may or may not be available. Selected Targasonne problems are now featured in EBloc - Bouldering in Spain.
The La Griole camp site is pretty sociable (there is a bar open throughout the summer) and is a good setting for a spot of slacklining or just chilin’ out, it also has table tennis and board games. To revitalize sore joints and muscles there is a thermal baths at Llo which includes warm indoor and outdoor pools, Jacuzzi and sauna. If there is still snow on the hills Font Romeu is one of 12 local downhill ski resorts within easy reach. Here you will find Nordic skiing through trees and across a high plateau. The mountains contain plenty of fell running and mountain biking trails and there is also the option of Via Ferrate for the super keen.
As the weather is generally pretty decent around the time most people visit I would recommend camping as good budget option. La Griole is a very hospitable campsite run by a friendly (English speaking) Dutch couple. This has good facilities, is situated within “The Chaos” itself, and is reasonably priced.
For those of you seeking more refined digs there are plenty of gite’s in the area which can be rented from around £150 per a week, details can be found by contacting the Tourist Information at Font Romeu via www.font-romeu.fr. Other options - When visiting the area out of of the ski season great value accommodation can be found at the numerous ski orientated apartment blocks around Font Romeu. We have previously stayed at the superb Le Domaine De Castella. Also in the vicinity of Font Romeu there is the rustic Cal Barbe which offers both B&B and Self Catering. Another option is La Chouette at Odeillo also close to Font Romeu.
Targasonne is easily accessed from a number of French airports and isn’t that far from Barcelona. Perpignan airport is the closest: From here head for Font-Romeu, which takes 1½ to 2 hours. Toulouse is the next closest (2¼ hours) and finally Carcassonne at 2½ hours away is still within easy access. Airport Connotations: Ryan Air: Liverpool to Carcassonne, Dublin to Carcassonne, Stanstead to Carcassonne, Stanstead to Perpignan Easyjet: Bristol to Toulouse BMI: Manchester to Perpignan
Supplies and Eating Out
There are a few convenience stores and bakeries in Targasonne where basic supplies and fresh bread are available, although for a more devise selection there is a large supermarket a few kilometers away in Egat. There are numerous bars, patisseries and restaurants in Font Romeu, in particular I found “le Cellier” (a traditional French/ Catalan restaurant) to be a really nice little spot, commanding a great panoramic view and offering lots of variety. They don’t speak much English but they are really friendly and the house red is great value!
Crash Pad Hire
Crash pads can now be hired for a reasonable amount from Ailipse.fr, a Parapont Shop located near Font Romeu.