Discover a sensational aerial activity and one of the most beautiful paragliding sites in Europe, located half an hour from Nice, with a bird's eye view of the big blue and the Principality of Monaco. On the program a first flight, sensation, aerobatics, precision landing, competition, some mini interviews and lots of aerial images.
Paragliding and its different forms of practice
The history of paragliding begins in the late 1970s with takeoffs from steep slopes in the Alps using rectangular parachutes. The two activities (paragliding and parachuting), often confused by the general public, show strong differences in practice.
The parachute jump is quite impressive and radical. No re-entry into the plane is possible, unlike paragliding where take-off is generally smooth and may be interrupted. Depending on the strength of the wind on the take-off area, you will have to run a few meters and maybe not even if the wind is strong enough (around 15 to 20 km / h). The jump parachute from an airplane is used to slow down the fall while the practice of paragliding involves hovering in the sky.
There are different forms of practice, from simple so-called local flight where the pilot performs either a ballistic descent flight, or a flight using thermal and / or dynamic climbs.
A more advanced practice consists in making distance flights also called cross. By respecting air regulations and airspace, the paraglider tries to fly far: either in a straight line, or with round trips, or by making triangles. France's record for free distance is, for example, more than 400 kilometers and several long hours of flight.
Aerobatics, or "acro", another form of demanding practice consists of performing acrobatic figures marked by a jury on the ground.
A more contemplative practice is to walk (or run) up to a summit and down in flight, if conditions allow it safely. This is called hiking or "Hike and Fly" flight. Ultra light sails (up to less than 1 kilo!) Limit the load when climbing.
Landing precision, inherited from the world of skydiving, is also often practiced in the context of friendly competition. Winter ski-in-ski-out has been around almost since the beginning of free flight history.
Paragliders of the plains use a winch to climb up into the sky a few hundred meters before holding up in the air thanks to the hot air currents. By adding a motor and a propeller in the back, you find yourself practicing the paramotor with a little more possibility but also with a big dose of decibels in addition.
Paragliding is fairly easy and belongs to the "Free fly" family which includes hang-gliding. The practitioners are often affiliated with a club of the French Federation of Free Flight (whose headquarters, for historical reasons too long to explain here, is also located in Nice). The FFVL also manages the kite, the surf kit, the hang-glider and the boomerang. The Ministry of Sports issues state diplomas and professional certificates allowing training in school or first flight in tandem to be supervised.
By the way, if the activities above the ground and in three dimensions with a feeling of weightlessness appeal to you, be sure to visit the Larvotto underwater reserve in Monaco. An article on our blog presents this rather fabulous marine protected area.
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin: one of the most beautiful paragliding sites in Europe
The Roquebrune practice site includes two take-offs perched at an altitude of just under 700 meters, that of Mont Gros and that of Laï Barraï. They meet from La Turbie by following the road that leads to Mont Agel and the Golf of Monte-Carlo. You will sometimes see Corsica beyond the sea on sunny days, with a little north wind.
An automatic weather beacon allows you to know the direction of the wind and its strength without having to climb up to take off.
Take-off from Laï Barraï faces south and that from Mont Gros under Mont Agel allows take-off facing south, southwest and southeast. A short, technical take-off will allow expert pilots to take off due east facing Menton and the old village of Roquebrune, famous, among other things, for its medieval castle, its thousand-year-old olive tree and the former residence of Romain Gary. A public transport shuttle allows you to take off, reservation on the ZestBus.fr site and detailed information here.
You land on the beautiful beach of Golf Bleu in the town of Roquebrune Cap Martin. An SNCF train station located just next door provides access from Nice, Monaco, Menton. Culture lovers on the French Riviera should not miss a visit to the famous Le Corbusier cabanon nearby.
A sea flight
The particularity of this paragliding site lies in the fact that it can largely fly over the sea.
This gives a very exotic character in contrast to the practice sites in the Alps or Pre-Alps. It was used very early on to test the "turbulence strength" of sails (collapses, stalls, very tight turns, spins, etc.). We practiced this kind of exercise on site at the very beginning of the 90s during the so-called Flight Incident Simulation (SIV) internship. Falling into the water at low to medium speed protects, but at high speeds the water is found as hard as dry land. A rescue boat ready to intervene, rescue parachute and life jacket help to maximize the safety of acrobatic maneuvers.
Take off takes place in a Provençal atmosphere in the middle of the scrubland even if the motorway connecting Italy remembers in our memory its continual and muffled rumble. The aerial part allows you to fly over the heights of Monaco and the perched hotel of Vistaéro (currently under construction). While the landing gives a seaside touch at the end of the flight. A swim, for the more courageous, will complete this Dolce Vita atmosphere!
The beach inevitably very busy in summer therefore prohibits flights in the summer season the paragliders then go to the sites of Sospel, Gourdon, the Col de Bleine or even to Colmiane. Note that Nice airport and its controlled airspaces, as well as the Mont Agel air base (radar) severely limit the air play areas, particularly in terms of altitude readings and transition to Nice. The old site of Eze (sector of the oppidum from Castellar to Mount Bastide) no longer exists due to an airspace ban, too close to the terminal area of Nice LFMN.
For a better rendering : choose the maximum definition by clicking on the small gear serrated .
We propose you images of the French Aerobatic Championship 2020 (October 17 and 18) but also a few words from Eliot Nurez : former French champion, winner of the Aerobatic World Cup. A talented, simple, sympathetic young man who comes from the beautiful resort of Valmorel in Savoie (beautiful ski slopes and a great atmosphere!) And who flies under Advance probably one of the very best brands of paragliding. For our part, we began to practice a long time ago with the Advance models, then Omega 1…. And have long remained faithful to the brand in single-seater or two-seater with the Alpha then Beta models!
To follow Eliot Nsez on social networks :
Thanks also to Cathy Devos for her explanations concerning the precision landing competition of the Roquebrune Aile club, of which you will be able to see some excerpts on the video. Cathy, also editor-in-chief of the beautiful Parapente Mag magazine (which we recommend) is also one of the most successful ski flight competitors.
A big thank you also to the president of the Roquebrun’Aile club, Georges Dick for his presentation of the site and the club on our video. The management of a free flight site and the organization of air competitions requires a lot of good will and talent. Riders from all over France and Europe benefit from the work of a great team of passionate and friendly volunteers. Georges, still smiling, struggles with the other members of the club to make sure everything goes well. All the info on the club website and Facebook.
The city of Roquebrune Cap Martin and its mayor Patrick Cesari have long understood the tourist potential of this international paragliding site. The mayor intelligently promotes the practice which allows to bring many sports tourists during the winter period. Pilots are flocking from all over Europe. Note that a fabulous X Alps hike and fly competition consisting of crossing the Alps only on foot and by paraglider starts in Austria to arrive on our Riviera shores precisely in Roquebrune. Thank you to Sports Town Hill elected Ghislain Poulain for his intervention on our video presentation of the site.
First flight and tandem
If you feel like trying paragliding, we recommend that you maybe start with a first flight. This is done with an instructor officially certified by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (BEES or BPJEPS). Don't hesitate to compare offers, reviews and professional websites. Prices from € 90. A call or better a visit on site allows to discuss face to face. In Roquebrune, we recommend the tandem, friend Christian Vidal (Azur paraglider) or Marie-Hélène Leduc (Ailelibre.com) services. They are prudent, knowledgeable and sympathetic professionals.
Paragliding is generally learned directly on your own in your single-seater. Sessions on small school slopes and a radio for large flights allow instructors to pass instructions. A pilot's license validates the rest of the training. Many schools exist throughout France. The FFVL offers a label (EFVL) and the youth and sports services issue operating approvals, this guarantees a minimum quality standard but we find the best and the worst. Some schools and instructors sometimes operate in "cowboy mode" but the accident rate remains very low in France.
We recommend two schools, among others in France :
The first in Auvergne with Flying Puy de Dôme at friend François. The flying sites are just exceptional around volcanoes. The air is less turbulent there than elsewhere and the school slopes, site of grassy and welcoming practices. The competent and friendly team of instructors. A discovery formula offers a few tests on small slopes (chip jump) then a first flight in double taking the controls. Many ideas for good gifts on the site, second-hand equipment, training courses etc ...
Closer to the Alps, friend Michel from Resources Parapente also offers quality courses near Gap (Hautes Alpes).
You will also find many other schools near you (lists here https://efvl.ffvl.fr/), do not hesitate to come and see and discuss before buying a 5 day course which costs around 600 at 700 euros all inclusive. Note that low prices are not always a sign of quality. Beware like the plague of schools that guarantee you a quantity of flights rather than qualitative training or accelerated internships. Learning to fly safely and independently will inevitably take a little time. Easy for an instructor to propel a student in flight and guide him on the radio like a puppet, more difficult to teach him effective techniques allowing him to achieve a certain autonomy.
The first major flights only assisted by radio take place after 3 or 4 days. Flying alone completely autonomous in calm condition, with its own wing, without instructor and radio, requires between two and three 5-day courses. New complete equipment costs between 4000 and 5000 euros (Wing, harness, reserve parachute etc.).
Paragliding and safety
Let’s be clear that paragliding is not a dangerous sport but a risky sport. Danger is not easily avoided while risk is managed, tamed, analyzed, and anticipated. The pilot's main enemy is often himself.
Paragliding does not allow you to fly in all wind conditions. This is an aircraft that flies very slowly, between 20 and 50 km / h. It cannot therefore cope with strong winds or severe turbulence. The pilot will therefore keep some room for weather and air conditions. Accidents often occur in strong winds, stormy conditions or in the middle of the day in summer and spring; moments when thermal updrafts generate the most turbulence ...
The good paraglider will not hesitate, if necessary, to give up the flight, even if more expert friends take flight. Choosing the right equipment for your level is also essential.
Humility, prudence, reflection allow tens of thousands of pilots to fly serenely every year without any accident or incident.
See you soon in the skies of the French Riviera or elsewhere to escape a bit, soar like a bird, see the planet from above and admire the treasures of the Riviera from the sky ...
We propose you some 360 ° views of the landing at Cabé Plage during the landing precision competition, but also the take-off from Laï Barraï and the take-off from Mont Gros. The small globe at the bottom right allows you to display a precise map. Click on it to make the map disappear or appear.
Click on the purple links to move in the virtual visit or on the globe to view a map of 360 ° views and access them.
Some images taken from the ground during takeoff or landing, but also aerial images. The images taken by Marie Hélene Leduc from a two-seater are identifiable thanks to the logo of her Ailelibre.com structure at the bottom right of the photos.