Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Hot-Air Balloon in France
A hot air balloon flight, wherever it is in the world is a truly magical experience. There’s nothing like gliding through the sky in a massive floating vessel while enjoying the sunrise or sunset—and perhaps a glass of champagne.
For more than two centuries, humans have used hot air balloons to launch themselves into the atmosphere and observe the world below from a unique perspective. This exhilarating experience of riding in a hot air balloon safely and comfortably, however, has never been more accessible than now. Today, adventurous travelers can enjoy some of France’s most spectacular landscapes differently. Indeed, hot air balloon rides take the act of sightseeing to entirely new levels!
Norbert and I were happy to join France Mongolfières for a truly unforgettable experience like no other: exploring Fontainebleau forest from above! We couldn’t have asked for a better day: blue sky, warm and no strong winds, just enough to make us fly.
Our experience: Fontainebleau hot-air balloon ride
The meeting point was at Fontainebleau’s Ecole d’Equitation, just in front of Château de Fontainebleau. Because we arrived early, we had the opportunity to explore a part of the Château’s magnificent French-style gardens.
It was at the starting point where, after checking the direction of the wind, the team decided on the flight itinerary. Unfortunately, it was not possible to fly over the Château this time.
A van drove us and the other people who would be riding in three balloons (two standard balloons and a smaller one for a private flight) to a small village near Fontainebleau forest. This was our take-off point.
It was fun and exciting to take part in setting the balloon up. Watching it becoming bigger and bigger, ready to fly, and later putting it back together again has made some wonderful memories.
After a short security briefing by René, our experienced pilot, we were climbing into our balloon. For all of us, it was the first time flying in a hot air balloon and we were all very excited. Finally, the balloon lifted off the ground and quickly rose into the sky.
René also was describing us the landscape below, composed of small towns, bell towers, agriculture fields, private châteaux (yep, there are some rich people living in Fontainebleau!) and of course lots of green. What a beautiful place. It was also beautiful to see the other two balloons flying near us, making the flight’s décor even more magical.
Back on the Ground
We descended back down, and then landed the balloon in a pasture. It was a smooth and easy landing.
Once our feet were back on the ground and the balloon was deflated and put it back on the trailer again, we took the van to meet the people flying in the other balloons. Finally, we had a post-flight sunset “party” where champagne was served and the flight certificates were handed out.
Seeing the unique scenery of Fontainebleau from the vantage point of a hot-air balloon was an unforgettable experience. And once your flight is over and you sip Champagne after landing, you will find yourself wanting to do it all over again…
Does this look like something you want to do?
We flew with France Montgolfières, a company based in different sites in France with experienced pilots and very high standards for safety and customer service. We did the standard flight, which lasts for 60 minutes, with 12 passengers in total. There are also private flights in smaller hot-air balloons. Learn more about France Montgolfières on their website.
Is the hot-air balloon worth it during your trip to Paris? Definitely YES, especially if you combine it with a visit to Château de Fontainebleau in the morning and later a picnic in the park. Seeing one of the most amazing landscapes in Ile de France from the sky is a once lifetime experience!
Other Hot-Air Balloon Rides in France
The Fontainebleau hot-air balloon ride is only one of the many flights operated by France Montgolfières. Discover some of the most amazing landscapes in France from the sky during your next trip to France! Read more about other hot-air balloon rides in France by France Montgolfières here.
- The Loire Valley
- The Paris Region – Fontainebleau
- Burgundy – Beaune and Vézelay
- The Pyrénées
- The Perigord
Fontainebleau Hot-Air Balloon Ride – FAQ
Hot-air balloon rides in France ae operated from spring to early fall. The flying season in Fontainebleau lasts from April until end of October. Flights are scheduled every day of the week early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
The flight lasts about 60 minutes but the whole excursion lasts about 3 hours. This includes the ride to the take-off point by van, setting the balloon up and putting it back on its bag, the toast after the flight and the ride back to the starting point by van.
The meeting point is at Ecole d’Equitation, just in front of Château de Fontainebleau. From there, the participants move to the take-off point by van. For those without a car, there’s a pick up at Fontainebleau – Avon train station. Trains to Fontainebleau leave every hour from Paris Gare de Lyon train station. Te train ride Paris – Fontainebleau is only 40 minutes.
Every day the flight itinerary is different, it depends on the wind! The pilot chooses the take-off point according to the direction of the wind and the flight depends on the climatic conditions at the given time, reaching a height of more than 1.000 meters.
The temperature during the flight is the same than in the ground so dress according to the season, with comfortable clothes and shoes. For men with not much hair or no hair at all, we recommend to wear a cap or hat, the heat from the burner can be very annoying.
If you want to ride in a hot-air balloon in France flexibility is key. The team will propose another time slot depending on the weather conditions and availability. If you are staying in Paris for a short time and there’s no way to find another time slot, you will be refunded.
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