Pradons, France. 11th June - 25th June
This years trip is to Pradons in the Ardeche, France. The nearest crag is Cirque du Chauzon which is about a ten minute walk from Pradons. Check it out on UKC!
Accommodation is camping and caravan-ing at Camping Du Pont in Pradons. There is a swimming pool, wi-fi, a supermarket and restaurant.
Night 1 and 2 - camping. You now should know if you're taking a tent or not.
Rest - camping or mobile home, depending on your preference.
2nd week people aiming to be at the campsite on the 18th.
Cost: Around £120 for two weeks. £40 deposit to be paid to Ellie by Weds, 20th of April.
There are a multitude of ways to get there but number one rule is to be QUICK! The trains and planes are now pretty expensive because it's taken a while to sort the campsite.
Don't forget, on the French train system, if you are 25 or under you count as a "youth" and may get a cheaper ticket.
You should be able to get tickets there and back for around £120 if you pick your times and are a youth. Check out www.raileurope.com. You might be able to get them cheaper if you book the Eurostar and the TGV seperately, especially if you fancy some stopovers on the way.
Buses from Valence to Pradons leave at 10:25, 16:00, 17:55 and 21:05 and takes around two hours. A single is (euro) 15.90.
If you're flying to Avignon, you need to get a train from there to Montelimar. From here there's a bus, which runs at 9:42, 15:37, 16:20 and 19:14. This takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours.
Alternatives to the train
Alternatives mean you might just beat the price of the train, but only with some serious jiggling. Things seem to get even cheaper if you do some overnights in Lyon or Valence, but obviously you'd need to pay for accommodation.
I've found flight and train combinations for about £160 return, via Lyon. (Gatwick out (EasyJet), train to Valence, bus to Pradons, back with BA to Heathrow). This one isn't really possible from Egham unless you stay in London overnight.
The alternative is to fly out from Heathrow as well, but due to the bus times, you would have to fly out on Friday evening, then stay in Lyon for a night. It would cost around £140, excluding the overnight stay.
There are also a limited number of flights from Stansted to Lyon with EasyJet for £150 (this includes train from Valence, return ticket to Stansted on the train and baggage).
All the prices I've put here include getting to the airport (£40 return to Stansted, £30 to Gatwick, without railcard), flight, tax, baggage, train from Lyon to Valence (which is £12 return).
Driving will cost about £300 for petrol, plus tolls and the eurostar or ferry.
Trains need to be to Valence (best bet) or Montelimar. If you're booking eurostar seperately, you need to book to Paris or Lille (Lille seems to be cheaper).
Bus: www.bahn.com has timetables on if you put in your journey (e.g. London to Pradons) and look at all the travel options. It's easier than trying to translate the TER-SNCF site and I've checked they match up. The actual timetables are on http://www.ardeche-tourisme.com/uk-hosting-ardeche/ardeche-route.php but it's a bit more old school.
Flights: You can fly to Lyon, Avignon, Marseille or Montpellier. It all depends where you can leave from and whether you're willing to stay a night in your chosen airport town. Lyon seems to be the cheapest, especially if you can get to Stansted but remember EasyJet will want another £20 for luggage and you will have climbing gear as well as tents (1st week people). You'll also need to get a train to Valence which varies in the time it takes. From Lyon it's not too far and costs £12 return (TGV website).
There's a travel map here: http://www.bonjourlafrance.com/france-departments/ardeche-07/travel-trains-airports-car-rental.htm
Insurance and Documents
You MUST have travel insurance that covers you for climbing! Accidents have happened in the past and medical procedures you consider to be trivial can cost a lot of money. Regular travel insurance probably won't cover you for climbing related injuries.
The BMC offer a very good and very well priced travel insurance package which includes all the normal things you'd expect from travel insurance (possession cover etc) but will also cover you for any climbing related injuries. You can find info here.
You should be able to enter "MACS" as your affiliated club. If you get a message saying you can't, try again the next day, they're currently processing our membership details. If you have seperate BMC insurance or are insured with another club, we would love it if you used that instead as it helps our MACS budget!
You will also need a passport (duh!) and an EHIC card. EHIC cards are free but there are a few dodgy websites charging for them. Avoid!
So far I've found a German or a French guidebook.
The German one is available from the Westway and is called Mistral 1 (I think). It's also available on the Urban Rock website.
There is a French guide here below. I've ordered one copy. It is, apparently, easy to get hold of from sports shops in the Ardeche. There are also some free guides offered by tourist information in some Ardeche-ian towns.
Should be arriving in the nick of time for departure!
So, everyone needs to take some kit. This year, including people's personal stuff, we only have 7 ropes! So I've worked on groups of 3 which means just over 70 quickdraws. Where possible I've subbed club gear for personal gear just because it's probably lighter but there are plenty of club draws going so just see me (Heather) if you'd like to swap personal draws for club ones (naughty).
I haven't taken much into account with this so if you feel I've given you too much (or not enough!), please discuss amongst yourselves and swap about. Most of you are travelling together so can swap round heavy kit.
Click here for the list of stuff you need to take. If you can't make it this Wednesday the 8th of June, 5.30 in the Arts car park, please arrange to collect gear from me personally. If you leave without gear, we will be short so don't!
Also, don't forget to bring your harness, shoes, helmets (if you have them), belay plates, slings, prussiks, screwgates and maillons. All the climbing gear you have around basically. Everyone will need a sling, two screwgates and a prussik at least, even if you are not leading.
There is a short walk to the campsite as well as all the running between connections on the train so a rucksack is advised.
Also, if you aren't in the camping group, you shouldn't need sleeping bags.
Last year there was rain so maybe bring waterproofs. Definitely bring good shoes.
Lastly, Boots have buy one get one free on waterproof disposable camera's!