During the Montgolfiades de Praz sur Arly, we had the chance to live a unique aerial experience: flying in a hot air balloon facing Mont Blanc. Let us tell you about this unforgettable adventure and, above all, explain to you how this aerial activity invented by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783, the first time man flew, takes place.

What are Montgolfiades?

Organized by the Praz sur Arly Tourist Office, the International Montgolfiades have taken place every year for more than 30 years.

Praz-sur-Arly, a neighboring resort of Combloux, is the reference spot for the takeoff of hot air balloons in the mountains in France. Hot air balloon flights take place all year round with Alps Hot Air Balloon.

Meeting our crew and preparing for takeoff

Meeting the Colin family: drivers from father to daughter

It is 9 a.m. when we arrive at our takeoff zone. It was very cold that day: -10°C. We meet Gégé, our pilot for this hot air balloon flight.

Gégé Colin introduces us to the whole team, namely his 2 daughters, Pauline and Claire, his son-in-law Joachim and Coco, a friend who is co-pilot for the flight. They came from Moselle with their Yutz balloon for the event. In the family, hot air ballooning is more than a passion passed down from father to daughter, since Pauline takes part in the world hot air balloon championships.

There will be 5 of us boarding the basket to fly, while Pauline and Claire will stay on the ground to pick us up when we land. And yes ! Fly in a hot air balloon, it’s also a lot of logistics, because you don’t direct a hot air balloon like a plane. As a result, you never really know where you’re going to land!

Preparing the hot air balloon and the flight

The crew first begins by unloading the trailer containing the gondola and the balloon as well as the gas cylinders and other equipment. We are explained the safety instructions, namely how to get into the basket, where to position ourselves, things not to touch, our roles as observer and whistleblower to adopt during the flight as well as the position for the 'landing.

We then give a hand to assemble the upper metal structure of the gondola, then they take care of putting everything in place inside. The burners are started to check that they are working properly.

It is already time to unfurl the immense canvas which, once filled with air, will form the majestic balloon of the hot air balloon. We each hold one side of the canvas in order to smooth the entry of air sent by the powerful fan and facilitate inflation.

The long-awaited moment has arrived. The hot air balloon slowly rises, like a giant coming to life. The crew delicately tilts the basket to put it upright then, after making the final checks and changing the altimeter (thanks to the cold!), we are invited to board.

The organizers of the Montgolfiades, via radio communication, give us their validation for takeoff. The rustling of the canvas and the purring of the burners are heard. The takeoff is gentle, almost imperceptible: with complete delicacy, we no longer touch the ground and gain height. With the heat of the burners we warm our bodies, while the landscape warms our eyes with its breathtaking beauty.

In the air facing Mont-Blanc

Here we are already at an altitude of more than 1600 m above sea level. Very quickly, we will even reach 2400 m.

During the first moments of flight, various emotions mix. The excitement of takeoff, the apprehension of the height, the parasitic thoughts (“what if the gondola has a hole, what if the canvas has a hole, what if we run out of gas?) but, very quickly, the beauty of the landscapes and this unique experience brings us back to the present moment. It’s a moment out of time.

We are 5 traveling companions for the duration of this adventure, suspended several thousand meters in the air, among dozens of other hot air balloons. The spectacle is grandiose. We admire the landscapes of our daily lives from the sky and we have the impression of seeing them for the first time, amazed like children.

While the villages below wake up, the snow-capped peaks accompanied by a big blue sky and the sun offer us their most beautiful picture. We fly gently, silence becomes our traveling companion while time flies by.

We have already used a full gas bottle out of the 4 in the basket. Gégé explains to us that we must always keep a gas cylinder intact when we begin landing, in the event of an emergency situation.

As we lose altitude, we have the chance to observe 2 deer running in the snow at the edge of a wood. We fly for a few more minutes, facing the Mont Blanc range.

While Gégé is at the controls of the hot air balloon, his co-pilots observe the surroundings to identify a place, suitable for becoming, for the duration of a morning, a chance landing zone.

Landing of the hot air balloon

The pilot of the hot air balloon is subject to the wind. While he can blatantly influence the height of the ball, it is more difficult to move accurately in space horizontally. The landing is therefore often funny.

And today, we will not escape the rule since we will land in a courtyard, between 3 chalets, after having drifted towards some trees. Rest assured, the descent and piloting are smooth, so much so that if you hit a few possible obstacles, you hardly feel anything.

We lose altitude and quickly approach a few chalets near a quiet road. With the basket and the balloon carrying their weight, hot air balloons always land near a road so that the vehicle and its trailer can come close.

The neighbors of the properties, who had come to their balcony to photograph our hot air balloon, are surprised: and yes, we are arriving at your home for the landing (and the aperitif!). We arrived before the rest of the team who remained on the ground, still on the road to join us. The neighborhood helps us land by grabbing the rope to bring the basket closer to the ground. We put our arms away, we bend our knees and we remain flexible in our supports. Here we are on the ground!

Hot air balloon lying on the ground upon landing

Now it's time to put everything away. We lend a hand to fold the balloon, while another part of the crew takes care of unloading and storing the basket. After a good half hour of packing up and chatting with our friendly hosts, we set off again towards the take-off base. The aperitif will be for next time, because the crew must fill the gas cylinders and prepare for their second flight of the day!

This is how this exceptional adventure of our hot air balloon trip to the Pays du Mont-Blanc ends.

Coming back to earth, we have the impression of reconnecting with reality, with a new perspective. The Pays du Mont-Blanc, seen from above, becomes a work of art to contemplate. This hot air balloon flight leaves an indelible mark and transcends the boundary between dream and reality.

I too want to fly in a hot air balloon in Combloux

Find all the information to fly in a hot air balloon in the Pays du Mont-Blanc with Alps Hot Air Balloon located in Praz sur Arly, just 15 minutes by car from Combloux.

The provider

Departing from Praz sur Arly, set off on an unforgettable journey in the footsteps of Jules Verne facing the highest Alpine peaks: Mont-Blanc Massif, Aravis, Beaufortain, Fiz, Bauges, Swiss and Italian Alps. In all four seasons, treat yourself to a moment of fulfillment between 1500 and 2500 meters above sea level. Set off for an unforgettable aerial wandering over the most beautiful natural site in France. In complete safety, supervised by our team of professional pilots, discover new landscapes depending on the altitude, travel to another dimension in the footsteps of Jules Verne. Flights take place all year round apart from the period from October 30 to mid-December. Preparation of the balloon and inflation (30 minutes). Flight duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes depending on the weather of the day.
Champagne upon landing. Return by 4x4 to the take-off site.
Total duration of the service: between 3:00 and 4:00 (only in the morning).
Flights all year round (except period October 30 – December 15)

Opening time

Opening hours from January 01 to December 31, 2024
Monday Open from 09 p.m. to 17:30 p.m.
Tuesday Open from 09 p.m. to 17:30 p.m.
Wednesday Open from 09 p.m. to 17:30 p.m.
Thursday Open from 09 p.m. to 17:30 p.m.
Friday Open from 09 p.m. to 17:30 p.m.
Saturday Open from 09 p.m. to 17:30 p.m.
Sunday Open from 09 p.m. to 17:30 p.m.
Our offices are open:
Off season: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 00 p.m. and 12:00 p.m. to 13:30 p.m., Saturday 17 a.m. to 30 p.m.
Winter and summer season:
– School holidays: Monday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 14:00 p.m. to 18:30 p.m., Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 15:00 p.m. to 18:00 p.m.
– Outside school holidays: Monday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 14:00 p.m. to 18:00 p.m., Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 15:00 p.m. to 18:00 p.m.


About Navy

As social media manager at the Combloux Tourist Office, I am in charge of social networks, the editorial line of this blog as well as the photo and video content of our destination.

📸 Passionate about photography, I have been sharing with you, for 3 years now, my most beautiful images of Combloux.
A fan of outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking, I am keen to share the 4-season life in Combloux. My curiosity and my adventurous soul allow me to regularly test experiences of the territory and share them with you!

Happy reading 😊

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