Antonin Cherbonnier

The following is an interview that summarises my activity in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and elsewhere, my projects and my outlook.

What does your profession entails?

I’m certified by a national diploma in physical education, specialising in rock climbing. This certificate allows me to supervise through teaching, training, development, or introduction to climbing, canyoning, and via ferrata. This can take the form of a day of discovery, classes or courses.

Is there an age limit for this activities?

Not really. From 6 to 80, or even more. It’s my job as a monitor to adapt to the public. There are lots of resources available to meet the wishes of each and everyone. A preliminary discussion will help settle on the most appropriate site.

How long have you been doing this?

Since 2008.

What are some of the places you’ve worked during those years?

As soon as I graduated, I began to work for a company based near Millau, called “Esprit nature”. The outings took place in the Cévennes, the Tarn gorges, the Jonte gorges and the Dourbie gorges.

It lasted about two years. After that, I decided to change structures and discover a new environment, both natural and professional. I chose to collaborate with the Office of the Hérault Valley’s Monitors (Bureau des Moniteurs de la Vallée de l’Hérault), which I still do. It made me discover a new way of working and new sites around the Pic Saint Loup and the south area of the Cévennes.

This organisation made possible my first trip abroad with a group of clients. As it happens, one of the founders of the office, Pierre Paleia, runs the travel agency “Akaoka”. They offer groups, among other things, to discover the Mediterranean region through outdoors activities. Pierre asked me to supervise a group in Turkey for a fifteen days period. The trip offered activities like canyoning and climbing in some beautiful sites near Antalaya.

I then tried the same kind of adventure on the Island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean. I left during the northern hemisphere’s winters in 2011 and 2012. It was a rewarding experience, in what is, to my mind, one of the most beautiful canyon in the world.

When I returned in 2012, it was with a fresh desire to discover new places. I left in the summer of 2012 for Spain, in the Sierra de Guara nature reserve in Aragon.

The novelty was also in the way to approach canyoning, with the possibility to go into advanced training with the groups during the 10 to 15 days courses.

During the same years, and to this day, I have also been collaborating with the organisation “Vue d’en Haut”. It’s a company managed by Ludovic Bourdon, that includes a climbing school in the Montpellier area. We teach in the “Altissimo” gym in Montpellier and on cliffs around the city.

You have a project that combines sport and the discovery of local terroir. Can you tell us more?

The idea for this project comes from my outlook on my profession. When we go on outings, there is of course the beauty of the landscape, but also the people living there and the land itself.

I find it essential to really get immersed into the place you’re discovering. You don’t passively “do” a cliff, a canyon or a via ferrata. You learn about the geographic and human reality of a place.

So I put together a partnership with “Montpellier Wine Tours”. The concept is simple: sporting activities in the morning, and discovery of the terroir in the afternoon. The aim is to marry the discovery of a sport to that of the local dynamics.

We’re beginning to offer a service mixing sport and gastronomy. I supervise the outdoor activity in the morning around the Pic Saint Loup. We make a picnic out of local products, and after that my partner, Carine Ageneau, provides an introduction to wine tasting in a vineyard.

We’re just starting out, but so far, people seem delighted. It’s a concret way to test this larger idea of combining sport with local culture.

How do you envision your future in this line of work?

On the whole, I’d like to develop more partnerships around the concept of sport with culture and environment, and to offer it to a larger public, like schoolchildren, students, seminars, or works councils.

I’m more than ever invested in the idea of linking sport and health and I’d like to develop this dynamic, notably with the CRCM of the Lapeyronie Hospital. I supervise young patients suffering from cystic fibrosis and I offer them climbing sessions adapted to their needs.

The aim is to open my activity to other professions, to publics that weren’t necessarily meant to exercise much. It’s that spirit of dialogue and intermingling I’m primarily interested in for the future. It’s also a way to stay motivated by my line of work and to continue growing as a person.

Interview of Antonin Cherbonnier of Escal’OSud, by Ivan Scolari.

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