F

France


Summits On The Air

France (F)

Association Reference Manual

Association Manager:  Robert DUCROUX, F5HTR, f5htr@yahoo.fr

revision history Français

Association parameters

Summit operation criteria

Operation must be within 25m vertically of the summit

Band 1, score 1 point

< 1000m ASL

Band 2, score 2 points

>= 1000m ASL, <1500m ASL

Band 3, score 4 points

>= 1500m ASL, <1750m ASL

Band 4, score 6 points

>= 1750m ASL, <2000m ASL

Band 5, score 8 points

>= 2000m ASL, <2500m ASL

Band 6, score 10 points

>= 2500m

Seasonal bonus

Yes

Bonus rationale

Winter period with highest probability of sub-zero temperatures and deep snow

Min. height for bonus

3 Points for activations >=1500m ASL

Bonus period dates

1 December to 15 March inclusive

Association sponsored awards

None

See General Rules for parameter definitions

Notice: 

‘Summits on the Air’, SOTA and the SOTA logo are trademarks of the Programme.

This document is copyright of the Programme.

All other trademarks and copyrights referenced herein are acknowledged.

 

General information

  • France has several distinct mountain regions, mostly in the south and east of the country, as well as areas with lesser summits.
  • Many of the higher mountains are extremely challenging, even for experienced climbers, but every region includes a selection of smaller hills that can be easily reached by walking or cycling.
  • France has a comprehensive network of long-distance paths or Grandes Randonées (GR) open to the public, well signposted on the ground, and with a wide range of excellent maps available.
  • Some summits do not have public access. In this case, it is essential that the landowner’s permission be obtained before attempting activation. 

    

Maps and navigation

  • The definitive maps for hill walking in France are published by the Institut Géographique National (IGN). They are widely available in shops throughout France, or can be ordered on-line from  http://www.ign.fr/ (in English and German, and French).
  • IGN maps come in all shapes and sizes but the most useful for general mountaineering purposes are the 1:100,000 “TOP100” series and the 1:25,000 “TOP25” series, both of which are also available on CD-ROM.
  • The TOP100 series covers the entire country in some 74 maps and, at 1cm to 1km, they are excellent for route planning. Although these maps show a reasonable amount of detail, they are too small-scale for serious mountain work.
  • The TOP25 maps are strongly recommended for specific expeditions. The level of detail is significantly greater and includes significant features that are useful for navigation. In most cases each département will comprise two TOP25 maps.
  • Generally, navigation on many of the French summits is not particularly difficult, at least if you stick to the paths and the weather remains fine. It is, however, easy to get disoriented, especially in the more remote areas and during adverse weather conditions. Only the foolhardy will venture there without a compass and the knowledge to use it. A GPS is not an adequate substitute.

 

Safety considerations

  • France, especially the south, can be extremely warm in summer, but it is worth remembering that all mountains can still be inhospitable places in inclement weather at any time of year. Mont Blanc in the Alps is the highest mountain in western Europe, and, along with many of its neighbours, can be expected to have snow-cover all year round. You shouldneverventure into France’s major mountains without walking boots, warm clothing, map and compass, and local advice.
  • Mobile phone coverage in mountainous regions is reasonably good on high ground, particularly near ski resorts. It can be non-existent in remote valleys or on slopes facing away from major areas of population, roads, etc. If you have one, though, it is worth taking it with you.
  • Additionally, during the long hot summers, there is a considerable risk of fire as the natural vegetation dries out. Take care not to start fires, and always be aware of the dangers involved, especially at times of heightened risk.
  • Finally, never underestimate the Mistral. This relentlessly cold wind, often gusting to storm strength, which pours down the Rhône Valley towards Provence, may produce clear blue skies, but it can often be violent enough to knock you off your feet – not good on exposed mountain ledges!

 

Disclaimer

  • Hiking, hill-walking and rock-climbing are potentially dangerous activities. The SOTA management team and their associates assume no responsibility for accidents. Each participant does so at his or her own risk, and must decide, on the basis of their own ability, whether an objective is achievable.
  • The listing of a summit in the reference does not mean that it is easy to reach, and it is always worth seeking local advice for all but the simplest of expeditions.

Our sincere thanks are due to several key people who devoted a lot of energy, time and passion to start SOTA in France.

In particular

  • Alain DARVE (F6ENO) and André CANTENER (F5AKL) who came up with a the very first list of more than 2.500 summits in France
  • Lionel KLEIN (F5NEP) who was the French Association Manager until August 2016 
  • Ghislain BARBASON (F6CEL) for running the www.sota-france.fr web site.

 

Regions (see map)

Alpes Mont Blanc (F/AB-xxx)

Region manager

 F6HHK, Bruno BALLY, f6hhk_fr@yahoo.fr
Region manager's assistant  F0FNC, Laurent FLORES, laurentfnc@orange.fr

Regional notes

 The French Alps form the western flank of the great mountain arc of some 800 km that stretches around the northern perimeter of Italy. The French portion of the range includes the highest summit in Western Europe, Mont Blanc at 4808,75m, which gives its name to this SOTA region.

Mont Blanc is actually a shared summit, forming part of the frontier with Italy where it is called Monte Bianco. Several other summits in this region are also shared with Italy or Switzerland.

Due to the number of summits in the Alps, the range has been split into two SOTA regions, with Isère (38), Savoie (73) and Haute-Savoie (74) comprising the northern (Mont Blanc) group, and the remainder comprising the southern (Méridionales) group.

Alpes Méridionales (F/AM-xxx)

Region manager

 F6HBI, Gérald TOSAN, gerald.tosan@free.fr

Region manager's assistant  F4EGG, Thierry GIAI CHECA, f4egg@free.fr
Regional notes

 The Alpes Méridionales are composed of a number of massifs, the principal areas are:

  • the Northern Ecrins, consisting of high summits, difficult to reach and covered with glaciers and year-round snow ; this is the case, for example, with the Pelvoux (3943m) and the well-known Barre des Ecrins (4102m), the highest summit lying entirely within French territory.
  • the Eastern Queyras, culminating with the Pic de Rochebrune at at height of 3320m.
  • the Southern Mercantour, famous for the Vallée des Merveilles (Valley of the Marvels) which is covered in ancient carvings dating back to the Bronze Age. The peak of the Mercantour is at Gélas which reaches 3143m.

Côtes-du-Rhône (F/CR-xxx)

Region manager


F5LKW, Roger DUCROUX, f5lkw@yahoo.fr

Regional notes Named after a well-known wine-producing area, Côtes-du-Rhône encompasses those départements along the Rhône valley between the Alpes to the east and the Massif Central to the west as it flows south to meet the Mediterranean in a vast delta between Marseille and Montpellier.

Despite being much lower than its neighbours, this region does include some significant upland areas. These include the Alpilles near Arles, the Luberon east of Avignon, and, further north, Mont Ventoux, which reaches nearly 2000m and is much visited by the Tour-de-France.

Jura (F/JU-xxx)

Region manager


F0FNC, Laurent FLORES, laurentfnc@orange.fr
Regional notes

The Jura range begins in eastern France on the northern bank of the River Rhone and then extends northwards along the river, north of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) to the Swiss frontier. It then continues as the boundary line between France and Switzerland in a long arc curving to the north-east, before eventually passing wholly into Switzerland. The limestone of which the Jura is formed is rich in fossils, having been laid down in shallow seas of the Jurassic period.

The range was originally mainly forested, even to its lower slopes.  Today the upper slopes remain forested (apart from the highest summits which are open grassland) but the action of man has stripped the middle and lower slopes of their forest cover to leave pasture. The effects of glaciation can be seen, particularly on the more steeply scarped southern flanks of the range, but the glaciers have long gone and there is now no permanent snow.

The general altitude of the Jura is between 1000m and 1500m, although the range reaches its highest point near the south-western end at Le Crêt de la Neige, which has an altitude of 1718m. 

MC (F/MC-xxx)

Region manager


F1REI, Frédéric PEYRIN, f1rei@orange.fr
Region manager's assistant F4GLD, Olivier PARRIAUX, f4gld@hotmail.fr
Regional notes

The Massif-Central is the only mountainous region of mainland France that lies wholly within the country.  It covers one-sixth of the surface area of France.  On the northern side it is bounded by the Paris Basin, on the eastern and southern sides by the Rhône Valley and delta, and by the Aquitaine Basin in the west.  It is roughly circular in shape, with an area of around 93000 square km and an average height of 715m.  It is the most geologically diverse area of France and also has the most varied climate.

The massif is made up of four main areas:

•    The Limousin region lies on the north-western side.  This is soft, undulating country of green pasture, ranging in altitude between 300m and 1000m. 

•    The Auvergne is the central area containing the majority of the highest summits in the massif. The fertile soil and high rainfall makes the area a region of lush pasture and forest. 

•    The Aveyron area lies to the south-west.  The waters of the Lot, Aveyron and Tarn flow westwards through this region from the Aubrac mountains.  It is an area of deep gorges and valleys with dry plateaux above.

•    The Lozère is the region in the east, and consists of a vast, dry, isolated upland.

The massif was raised in the same period as the Pyrenees and Alps. This gave the massif an east-west incline, with the highest areas lying to the east nearer the Rhone Valley. Volcanic activity continued beyond the Tertiary Period until as recently as 8000 years ago.  Glaciation further shaped the area into a landscape of ridges and deep valleys.

The highest and most prominent summit in the massif is Puy de Sancy in the Auvergne, which has an altitude of 1885m. 

NO (F/NO-xxx)

Region manager


F5UBH, Christophe TOULLEC, f5ubh@orange.fr
Regional notes

Stretching from the Luxembourg frontier to Cape Finisterre in Brittany, this region contains several distinct groups of summits.

Along the Belgian border lie the densely-wooded hills and steep river valleys of the Ardennes. Geologically this upland area, which extends through Belgium and Luxembourg, is a continuation of the Eifel mountain range in Germany.

Along the coast of the English Channel, and within easy reach of the cross-channel ports, the chalk hills in the Pas-de-Calais and Somme departments provide a duo of undemanding summits.

To the south of the meandering River Seine, above the bocage country of Normandy, the hills of the Suisse-Normande are dominated by the 365m summit of Mont Pinçon. Further from the coast the Normandie-Maine Natural Park includes the Mont des Avaloirs which is, at 416m, the highest summit in north-western France.

At the western extremity of the region, whilst even further west the Armorique National Parc includes irregular hills of the Monts d’Arée. Although they are only 400m high, these hills deserve the name “monts” – the climate is cold in winter, the stony slopes are steep and it is easy to get lost if you leave the footpaths.

PE (F/PE-xxx)

Region manager


F5UKL, André BOURGUET, F5ukl@orange.fr
Regional notes

The Pyrenees, which straddle the Franco-Spanish border and take in the tiny independent state of Andorra, stretch from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in the east to the Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic Ocean in the west.  The chain extends in a relatively straight line from east to west to a total distance of 435 km, and reaches a maximum width of about130 km. One-third of the total area of 55374 square km lies within France.

The range was extensively glaciated in earlier times, giving rise to impressive glacial valleys and cirques. The glaciers have now nearly gone, but permanent snow can often be found above 1800m (6000 ft) on north-facing slopes, which present much steeper inclines with spectacular torrents called gaves fed by the generous rainfall.

Due to the number of summits in the Pyrenees, the range has been split into two SOTA regions. The départements of Hérault (34), Pyrénées Orientales (66), Ariège (09) and Haute Garonne (31) comprise the region of Pyrénées Est.

PO (F/PO-xxx)

Region manager


F5UKL, André BOURGUET, F5ukl@orange.fr
Regional notes

The départements of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64) and Hautes-Pyrénées (65) comprise the region Pyrénées Ouest.

SO (F/SO-xxx)

Region manager


F5HTR, Robert DUCROUX, f5htr@yahoo.fr
Regional notes

Lying west of the Massif-Central, south of the Loire Valley and north of the Pyrenees this is a relatively flat area, and only two summits have yet been identified.

VL (F/VL-xxx)

Region manager


F6FTB Christian GONDARD gondard.christian@orange.fr
Regional notes

This region comprises the departements along both banks of France’s longest river. The Loire has a length of just over 1000 km, from its origin in the Cévannes to its eventual meeting with the Bay of Biscay near Saint-Nazaire. It is an area known more for its beautiful châteaux than its summits, but still manages to contain enough to interest SOTA enthusiasts.

VO (F/VO-xxx)

Region manager


F5HTR, Robert DUCROUX, f5htr@yahoo.fr
Regional notes

The Vosges mountains stretch along the west bank of the River Rhine for a distance of 250km.  The range is divided into three sections, which are, from south to north:

•    The Grandes Vosges, with an average altitude of around 1100m, include the distinctive rounded summits called “ballons”.

•    The Central Vosges, with an average altitude of around 900m, have summits which tend to be narrower and more pointed.

•    The Lower Vosges, a plateau with an average altitude of the plateau is around 500m.

The lower slopes are now deforested, but higher up there is extensive forest on all but the highest summits, which are open grassland. The western side of the range receives most of the rain/snowfall and has a much lower mean temperature. Vines grow on the eastern flanks of the range up as high as 400m. There is no permanent snow on the range.

The range reaches its highest point on Le Grand Ballon de Guebwiller at the southern end of the range, which is 1424m in altitude.