Man has always dreamed of flying… You too? Then set off to conquer the sky with a paragliding baptism! Let yourself be overwhelmed by the incredible sensations of this aerial sport, and enjoy a moment of escape, with your feet in the air, well installed in your harness. France has many reliefs perfect for paragliding, which will allow you to jump to admire landscapes as varied as they are exceptional. Let’s discover together these 7 fantastic places, where you will be introduced to tandem paragliding!
The beautiful Mediterranean, the sandy beaches, the massifs of the Nice hinterland… The French Riviera makes tourists dream, who would imagine leaving the mainland for a moment to better contemplate the splendor of the PACA region’s landscapes. So why not take the plunge with a paragliding initiation flight near Nice? Take off for one of the most popular places in the South-East of France!
Situated barely one hour from Bordeaux, near Arcachon, the Dune du Pilat is a real tourist curiosity. It is indeed the largest natural dune in Europe. This immense expanse of sand stretches 2.9 km from north to south, representing an almost surreal separation between the Atlantic Ocean and the Landes forest. By choosing to spread your sail over the Arcachon basin, you will be able to take full advantage of this atypical landscape, which may well change its face in a few years time, as the dune keeps shrinking. If you are lucky enough to jump on a day when the conditions are optimal, you will also be able to see the tip of Cap Ferret, which is home to some superb villas, the holiday resorts of French film celebrities such as Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard.
You wish to fly over a dormant volcano classified “Grand Site de France”? Rendezvous in the Massif Central and more precisely in the heights of the Puy-de-Dôme (1465 m)! This absolutely magnificent natural area is ideal for initiation courses and tandem flights. Indeed, the low relief allows you to enjoy a simple excursion where you can take the time to admire the Puys mountain range. Eight take-off zones are possible and your starting point will depend on the wind direction. Nevertheless, be careful about the period you wish to paraglide: the region is prone to strong thunderstorms, so access is forbidden out of season.
In spite of sometimes capricious weather conditions due to the influence of the ocean and the semi-continental climate, the Vosges mountains abound with splendid reliefs, perfect for a first paragliding flight. Summits, ponds, ridges, lakes, peat bogs… You will never get tired of these diverse landscapes! To fully enjoy them in complete safety and limit the risks of strong winds, visit the region between April and October. If you wish to meet free flight enthusiasts, don’t miss the Markstein spot, located 1 hour from Mulhouse in the commune of Oderen. You will find there many enthusiasts, who appreciate to practice above the Vosges forests. Finally, to mix your love of cinema with that of paragliding and come and glide over a sumptuous lake, head for Gérardmer and its famous Fantastic Film Festival!
Haute-Savoie is home to some of the best paragliding spots in France. Every year, thousands of tourists flock to discover what is known as the “Venice of the Alps”. With its immense lake, Annecy is a delight for both amateur and experienced paragliders, who never tire of flying over the reflection of the mountains on the azure blue water. Paragliding schools are numerous in the region and the variety of terrain will allow you to experience various styles of escapades. The most courageous will try their hand at aerobatics, during an intense sensation flight with acrobatics. You will also be able to try thermal flights that use hot air currents to propel you. Finally, for even more adrenaline, find out more about take-offs from the Col de la Forclaz pass, and throw yourself into the void from the start for an unforgettable flight over Lake Annecy and the imposing massifs around it.
It is undoubtedly one of the most famous coastal sites in Europe. Facing the Mediterranean Sea, under a radiant sun typical of the South of France, you will be able to initiate yourself to tandem paragliding. Once in the air, you will be free to contemplate the prestigious bay of Monaco, and admire its marina and the splendid yachts moored there. Make sure to book your slot well in advance: in winter, spring and autumn, tandem flights with an instructor are quickly sold out! If you have a choice, don’t hesitate to make an appointment at sunset: the sky and the Mediterranean are then at their most beautiful, tinted pink and orange.
If Gréolière attracts so many paragliders, it is mainly thanks to its climate, which allows them to fly almost all year round. This renowned site was the home of Bruce Goldsmith (world paragliding champion) and Rob Whittall (double world champion in hang gliding and paragliding). To follow in their footsteps and take on these same wind currents, you can call on the instructors at Ailéments. They will be delighted to share their passion with you during a jump from the famous Cheiron mountain. From here, you will have a magnificent view of the Nice hinterland, the French Riviera Pre-Alps Natural Park and the Mediterranean coast.
The Hautes-Alpes department is well known to paragliding enthusiasts as it has hosted a large number of French, European and world competitions for several years. Mount Chalvet, located in the municipality of Saint-André-Les-Alpes, is the epicenter of all this excitement and the meeting place for the best pilots. Of course, the site is not reserved only for professionals, and you can easily take to the skies in tandem with an instructor. In this green region, landing is as much a feast for the eyes as taking off! You will be able to admire the lake of Castillon, engrave in your memory the purple expanses of the lavender fields, and follow the emblematic Napoleon route.