Arkose, the French Leader in Rock Climbing, Steps Up its Concept in Marseille



Arkose has two meanings. It’s a type of sedimentary rock found in the Australian Uluru formation, and it’s also a big name for lovers of urban climbing. Since its 2013 founding in Montreuil, France, Arkose has become a leading player in this indoor sport. In March 2018, following an investment of approximately one million euros, the company opened its eighth French venue near Marseille‘s Stade Vélodrome, delivering an unprecedented combination of sports and lifestyle. Arkose was looking for premises which offered plenty of vertical space in the heart of the city. In its search for this rare asset, it reached out to Provence Promotion for advice, following an initial meeting at SIMI in Paris two years earlier. Today, the company’s ambitions are inspiring it to scale great heights.

Itching to pull on your climbing boots and get away? Well, now you don’t need to start by reading up on your mountaineering classics. In 2013, Samy Camarzana, Steve Guillou, Gregory De Belmont and Lyes Mekesser got together to blaze a new trail in urban climbing. They tested out their concept in the Paris suburb of Montreuil. This new safe, accessible and fun approach to climbing has something for everyone: seasoned athletes, beginners who want to find their feet on low climbs, friends and families… and even team-building events. The concept combines athletic activities with a warm, friendly place to hang out. The initiative is quickly gaining traction in cities around the country (Paris Nation, Montreuil, Massy, Annemasse, Tours, Bordeaux and three centers in Lyon).

Arkose’s Prado climbing center: a new venue that defies the laws of gravity

In March 2018, Arkose opened its doors in Marseille, a stone’s throw from the legendary Orange Velodrome stadium. Hold on a minute…surely a real climbing enthusiast would rather be indulging in their favorite sport in Provence, amid the rocky paradises of En Vau, Sainte-Victoire and Morgiou? Perhaps, but don’t forget about the wind and rain, which can so often thwart your best-laid plans. Now climbers have the option of continuing to train indoors. And the 16-inch thick floor mats ensure that newbies can now enjoy the safest of introductions to this sport. Arkose offers another approach to climbing, using a different technique which caters to all users, skill levels and ages from 3 to 77 years.

“Arkose is developing friendly places where visitors can try their hand at bouldering, with routes that are redesigned practically every month. We also offer climbing lessons for children and adults as well as yoga, pilates and a sauna where climbers can relax after their hard work,” explains Océane Huon, Development Officer for Arkose in France.

Onwards and upwards for the Arkose Group

Having identified sports as a key driver of economic development, the Aix-Marseille-Provence local government is stepping up its program of hosting major events (including Euro 2016, the Tour de France, and the Capitale du sport initiative in 2017). 2018 was marked by the return of the Formula 1 Grand Prix to Le Castellet. This phenomenon is attracting the interest of companies in the sports sector.

In 2016, the Arkose management team held meetings with the business development teams from the Marseille city council and Provence Promotion at the Salon de l’Immobilier exhibition. The idea is starting to gain traction, but will still need another two years and one million euros before it can materialize. “We’ve converted an old archive center, with an area of ​​19,500 square feet and 20ft-high ceilings, located on boulevard Michelet. As with all our sites, we’ve set up a bar and an eco-friendly restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. We offer homemade and seasonal cooking. We take special care over the origin of the products by working with local producers,” says Océane Huon. In Marseille, Arkose has recruited twenty people, including chefs, clerks and receptionists.

Arkose is planning a major expansion of its concept over the next five years in France and abroad. In 2020, for the first time in its history, climbing will become an Olympic discipline at the Tokyo Olympics. What better way to inspire a new generation of climbers?