What better way to celebrate finishing my Tour du Mont Blanc hike than going paragliding right in front on Mont Blanc? Back in Chamonix just minutes after coming off the trail and meeting up with my friend Katy, we duck into a shop and book paragliding for tomorrow afternoon. We spend the rest of the evening giddy with excitement.
I’ve wanted to go paragliding for a long time now, but it’s always seemed too expensive. Imagine my surprise to find that it’s only 110€ to go from Planpraz above Chamonix—a veritable bargain! In this situation, it is absolutely rude not to.
We wake up the following morning to beautifully sunny weather and are soon en route to the cable car station in the centre of town to meet our paragliders at noon. They arrive fashionably late and shoo us quickly into a car to make our way up the mountain. My paraglider is Jean-Marc, who calls me “small friend” and loads me up to carry some of the gear out of the cable car and onto the grassy hill a few metres away.
All preparations are over within a matter of minutes, and I am soon being instructed to run down this incredibly steep hill and not lift my legs until Jean-Marc gives the ok. I only contact the ground for about 4 steps before we are lifted far enough off the hill that I’m basically just pawing at the air, and then we are off!
The experience is gentler than I imagined. It’s actually incredibly peaceful floating through the sky, Mont Blanc lurking over us and Chamonix sprawling below. I can’t get over the feeling of flying—it truly feels like we have wings, or maybe like Jean-Marc has wings and I’m just a small rodent that got scooped up and taken along for the ride.. At any rate, it’s pretty magical.
Jean-Marc, determined not to let me relax too much, launches into a series of tight turns that have us spinning at 2.4G’s and he proudly alerts me that I’ve just experienced gravity force. I love the fast spirals and he happily performs several more as we continue our descent.
The whole flight is nearly 45 minutes, but I’m still sad to approach the ground and give up our wings. We land surprisingly gently and before I know it, Jean-Marc is waving goodbye and Katy and I are walking back into Chamonix. What a spectacular experience with the most incredible backdrop—everything is better in front of Mont Blanc.