The Best Paragliding Sites in the French Alps
The French Alps is home to some of the best flying sites in Europe. The high mountain terrain and reliable weather create ideal flying conditions suitable for all pilots from beginner to pro. Experienced pilots will appreciate the lift infrastructure in the French Alps ski resorts, which provides easy access to some amazing high-altitude take-off sites. If you’re new to the sport, or considering taking lessons, a tandem flight with a qualified instructor is a superb way to experience the thrill of free-flight, and it’s hard to beat the French Alps for jaw-dropping mountain scenery.
You can fly year round in the French Alps. Paragliding schools and tandem pilots generally operate from April to November when longer daylight hours mean you can take advantage of morning and evening flying and avoid the bumpy air often experienced during the middle of the day. In the winter, smooth, cold air, gentle thermals and light valley winds means flying can also be very pleasant. With an average of 24 flying days per month and with most days suitable for beginner training, you can be confident that you’ll get some good flying days in during your paragliding holiday.
Experience the thrill of a tandem paragliding flight and see the French Alps from above, or take part in a course and learn to pilot your own wing. Paragliding schools offering tandem flights, discovery courses, pilot training and fly guiding operate throughout the region.
The Alpine terrain means there’s lots of fun things to do when you’re not paragliding. You’ll find some of Europe’s best rock climbing, rafting, canyoning and via ferrata across the region and there’s challenging road cycling and mountain biking as well. And, with the hearty French Alps food and easy transport links from Geneva, Grenoble and Lyon airports, the French Alps should be high up on your list of must visit paragliding destinations!
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Top French Alps Paragliding Sites by Region
Haute-Savoie borders Lac Léman and Switzerland to the north and Italy to the west, and is home to the majestic Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. It’s also here that you’ll find some of the best known ski resorts in the French Alps, including Chamonix, La Clusaz and Morzine. Short transfer times from Geneva airport make Haute-Savoie in the northern French Alps a favourite destination for paraglider pilots arriving by plane.
Paragliding in the Chamonix Valley
Chamonix is the epicentre for mountain sports in France and paragliding is well established here with well-run launch and landing sites and good transport links. With lift accessible launch sites including the Grands Montets (3200 m) and the Aiguille du Midi (3700 m), the paragliding in the Chamonix Valley is incredible. The out and returns, triangles and open distance possibilities are limitless. A highlight for cross country pilots is the Plan Praz launch site accessible from Chamonix via the Brévent gondola.
Altitude: 3700 m. Local Club: Les Gratte-Ciel. Nearest Airport: Geneva (1 h 10 min). Launch Lat/Long: 45.918234, 6.870099. Land Lat/Long: n/a. Hazards: . Season: All year.
Paragliding in Morzine
The official FFVL take-off in Morzine is located on the Super Morzine side of the valley on the road up to Avoriaz. The south facing slope works in southerly and westerly winds. There’s a choice of 2 official landing sites. The first is next to the Hotel Champs Fleuris in Morzine town, just watch out for the ski lift cable along the far side. The second is a straightforward landing spot located about 1 km out of town on the road to Avoriaz. Local paragliding schools operate a training field right in Morzine.
Altitude: 1550 m. Local Club: Ailes Morzinoises. Nearest Airport: Geneva (1 h 20 min). Launch Lat/Long: 46.192500, 6.721681. Land Lat/Long: 46.179185, 6.703610. Hazards: Ski lift cables near landing site. Season: All year.
Paragliding in Mieussy
Mieussy became know as the birthplace of paragliding when in 1978 Jean-Claude Bétemps, André Bohn and Gérard Bosson successfully launched from Pointe du Pertuiset using rectangular parachutes. Slope soaring, or parapente was born! The main launch called Pertuiset on the Sommand Plateau is an easy 15 minute walk from the car park. Hike 20 minutes further up to Pointe de Perret, to avoid weekend crowds. Land in a field in the village at the end of Chemin Rural de Mieussy. Good cross-country flying opportunities from April through to the end of the summer with routes via the Col de la Colombière to Mont Lachat.
Altitude: 1640 m. Local Club: Démenciel Parapente. Nearest Airport: Geneva (1 h 12 min). Launch Lat/Long: 46.142947, 6.546104. Land Lat/Long: 46.130473, 6.526259. Hazards: Crowded at weekends. Season: All year.
Savoie Paragliding Sites
Savoie is made up almost entirely of high altitude terrain including the vast mountain area of the Vanoise National Park and iconic peaks like Mont Pourri, the Dent Parrachée and La Grande Motte. It’s home to the largest number of ski resorts in France, including those of the 3 Valleys and the Tarentaise Valley. Paragliding highlights include Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Les Arcs and Tignes with several flying schools and the PCHT, a well-established paragliding club. Nearest airport: Grenoble/Geneva.
Paragliding in Bourg-Saint-Maurice
There’s great flying around Bourg-Saint-Maurice with lots of paragliding schools offering tandem flights and lessons, and a well-established paragliding club, the Parapente Club de Haute Tarentaise. There are 3 official launch sites from 1439 m to 2131 m in altitude. La Cachette is a straightforward launch site for newly qualified pilots and easy to reach using the funicular and La Cachette chairlift or on the road with the summer shuttle bus. It’s forbidden to fly from here during the ski season. The main official landing site called Atterrissage des Ilettes is 2 km south of Bourg in a big field alongside the Isère river.
Altitude: 2131 m. Local Club: PCHT. Nearest Airport: Geneva (1 h 10 min). Launch Lat/Long: 45.576520, 6.799507. Land Lat/Long: 45.593208, 6.752219. Hazards: Ski lift cables. Season: All year.
Please leave a comment below if you need specific advice for your paragliding trip to the South of France, or if you have any recommendations to help us improve this article. Happy flying!