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Parapenting in Les 2 Alpes

Flying high over Venosc village on a tandem parapente flight

Featured in: | Ellie Mahoney, Les 2 Alpes Editor | Published

If you've got a head for heights and want to enjoy views of Les 2 Alpes that you don't normally get, then taking a flight on a tandem parapente should be on your 'must do' list whilst you're here - either in summer or winter.

I'm here at the end of June / first week in July and the weather has been great for doing this - hardly a cloud in the sky and warm enough for you not have have to wear lots of layers for your flight.

There's a take off field along a short path from the car park to lookers left above the Venosc gondola. It's a mown patch of field on a gentle gradient, with windsocks at the corners so that the pilots can judge the wind speed and direction as they take off. I met my pilot in the car park just by the field and we walked over to the take off area together.

a parapente wing on the ground

I'm told the thermals in the first half of the day are more appropriate for first time fliers, with air currents building in the afternoon from the Vensoc valley below, which is great because it's the first time I've ever done this and I'm hoping for a smooth and steady flight.

The pilot gives you an introduction to how you will be harnessed together, you on the front him on the back and explains how the take off and subsequent landing will happen. Once the air currents are strong enough, you start at the top of the field and run down it in unison (quite quickly) until there's enough wind in the wing to lift off. Then you glide effortlessly along, with the ground falling away beneath you quite quickly - there's a big cliff that we saw the day before when we were hiking up from Venosc to the start of the via ferrata, but from this angle it's not as scary, and we're past it very quickly.

a village from above

The drop from the cliff and the warm air currents mean that instead of continuing to drop, we glide out over Venosc village and turn gently around for the best views. The waterfall across the other side of the valley looks even more impressive from this angle than the day before as it thunders down the mountain.

Everything looks tiny from up here - the chocolate box chalets, the cars and the take off field we've just left. It's really calm, aside from the odd gust of wind that picks you up a little, or gently drops you a little and the occasional swooshing from the wing as we turn about in the sky. It's really peaceful and since someone else has the controls, you can just sit back and enjoy the views.

valley views

We soared over the Venosc gondola, hugging the cliffs to the right and then made a gentle turn back towards the via ferrata mountain and then onwards a little way around the corner, which gave us great views along the river and the Veneon valley towards Saint Christophe.  

Landing in a field not far from the bottom of the Venosc gondola was a little more daunting than take off, I wanted to land upright and not in a heap on the floor, so lifting up your legs a little and running before you make contact with the ground was the way to go, and it worked. The wing collapsed behind us and my instructor deftly laid the lines holding up the wing on the ground behind us so as not to tangle them and packed away the enormous wing into his appropriately enormous back pack.

a man packing away a parapente wing

We took the Venosc gondola back up again, which was just enough time for me to recover from the exhilaration and for my heart rate to return to something like normal.

As we came back up again we saw another tandem landing in the take off field, so if the thermals are good enough you can get really high and loop back round to where you started. You can also take off from an area just off the Diable lift, so there are a few options depending on what you want to do and how much you want to spend.

Don't forget to take a lift pass with you, or you can buy a single trip on the Venosc gondola for 5.90 euros.

You can book a parapente flight through ESS, who also offer a large range of other summer activities and can help you find accommodation if needed. Find out how to contact them

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