ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Around the world in 30 days: Paragliding in St Andres Les Alpes

Updated on October 26, 2011

After deciding that sky diving was too scary for me and that the bit I loved was the parachute part, we decided to do what the French call “Parapente”, paragliding in English.

The first year we  went to Saint-Andres-Les-Alpes, I went to the beginners course with the aim to do one big flight of twenty minutes after a whole week of training.  When we finally did it, it was amazing.  Running off a big mountain is not as easy as one would imagine [ It was actually 810 metres, but it looked bigger than it sounds when you have to run off it!].  First of all, if there is wind blowing, you don’t have to run very fast and very far.   However, if there is no wind at all then you need to get those legs moving fast as in theory the take off speed required for a parachute is 25 km/hr.  At my best I can run a mere 10 km/hr.  So you can all see there is a slight mathemitical problem here.

We had an interesting thing happen when the 11 of us did our first big flights.  When we were all down, the instructors seemed to be looking worriedly at somebody in the sky.  In fact it was the last person on our course.  She was still up there and it seemed like she could not come down.  How bizarre an idea that somebody cannot fall from the sky!  What happened was that it was late in the afternoon on a particularly hot day and the thermals rising were stronger than usual.  For an experience paraglider this is heaven as they can stay there as long as they want.  But the girl on our course was also getting quite nervous.  The instructors had to give her a bit of an advanced training how to come down in a thermal.  So while we all had twenty minutes flights, she was up there for forty minutes.  So we had to wait a while before the first big flight champagne bottle was opened.

In the air
In the air | Source

The following year we went back and it was great because I was then doing these so called big flights every morning and every afternoon, weather permitting. At the end of the week I had 13 big flights in my log book.

What is so great about flying a parachute?

This sensation of taking off and suddenly having your whole body moving is an utter feeling of freedom that is very difficult to experience in our daily lives. The breeze on your cheeks and down below you can see our world while not being part of that world while circling literally like a bird. It is not an adrenaline fix when up in the air, nothing like jumping off a plane.

What are the dangers of paragliding?

There are still many risks and dangers associated with paragliding.

The take off can be very dangerous as you may not have enough speed to clear trees on the landing strip. This happened to me on my last jump. There was no wind and I had to really run but I felt I was fast enough, so I tried to correct and changed my direction towards some trees to the left and end up flying through the top branches of the trees and luck was on my side and my parachute did not collapse and I was in the air with a few twigs and leaves attached to me, and my radio knocked out of place.

Landing is one of the most hazardous time as we do have to get very close to electric lines, buildings, roads and traffic and vegetation. There was one landing strip that was a few metres away from a ditch with thorn bushes and of course I ended up there once!

There is always the risk of something going wrong with your parachute. If your parachute collapses, then you have to gather it all in your hands before deploying the emergency chute, in order to prevent the two parachutes getting tangled up. Well the odds of managing all that if you are in a panic is pretty low for a beginner, but experienced paragliders do have special training over water to master these skills.

Finally the biggest hazard is other paragliders in the sky.  There are some crazy guys out there, who are not paying attention to other paragliders.  So you have to watch out to avoid any head on collisions or colliding with somebody underneath during your ascent.

Lac Castillon
Lac Castillon | Source

Saint Andres les Alpes Information

Saint Andres les Alpes is one of France’s best kept secret. It is set amidst the stunning Verdun gorges on the shores of a lake Castillon.

We stayed at Hotel Lac et Foret both times and it was lovely. We managed to get the one room with a balcony and from there you can watch all the paragliders and handgliders land.

To get there, the best way is to fly to Nice and then hire a car and it is an hour and a half drive on a very picturesque country road.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Traveller 

      7 years ago

      This really sounds like one of France's best kept secret. Look forward to hearing of others! I live in Uk and would love to explore France.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)