History of Paragliding in Annecy
You could almost say that paragliding was created in the region of Annecy, more particularly in Annemasse. In 1978 André Bohn and Jean-Claude Bétemps decided to use their skydiving parachutes to takeoff from a slope. Following the success of the historic flights, the first paragliding center opened in 1979 under the name of ‘Les Choucas’ in the commune of Mieussy in Haute Savoie, 60 kms from the city of Annecy.
Since 1978 paragliding is an activity that has been adopted all around the world. 1987 celebrated the first Paragliding World Championship in Verbier, Switzerland; it was the chance for the world to see the best pilots in action. Paragliding soon became accessible for pretty much everyone, everywhere, thanks to tandem flights. With tandem paragliding flights, you can try this thrilling sport without having any previous experience or diplomas, as your expert pilot will take care of absolutely everything!
Why is Annecy one of the top paragliding spots in the world?
It’s probably because the atmospheric sounding above Annecy Lake is particularly favorable. The winds are great for paragliding and the thermal winds are abundant. Annecy is perfect for paragliding , as it has many takeoff spots ideally located and vast valleys with a breadth of vegetation, enabling you to land without hurting yourself by bumping into natural obstacles. The dense roads are also great, as they let you gather scattered sheep easily.
So I’ve explained the weather conditions, but that’s not the only reason why Annecy is such a coveted paragliding spot. The beauty of valley surrounding Annecy is also another very good reason why. The stunning panoramas can only be described as picturesque. Annecy Lake is nestled in a bed of lush greenery with snow covered summits in the background, making it just magnificent. Paragliders from Airmax feel the same way “All paragliding pilots know this paradisiac spot of the Haute-Savoie!”
Multiple Take-off sites
There are several zones around the lake that are great to use as a take-off spot for a paragliding flight. You can takeoff from Planfait (an altitude of 950 meters) or Col de la Forclaz (an altitude of 1250 meters) on the east bank of the lake. Both spots have great panoramas and are ideal both beginners and experts. On the west bank of the lake, you’ll find one of the most technical takeoff spots, Entrevernes, the surface here is somewhat reduced due to the abundant trees.
From Semnoz, you can takeoff facing the prairie, this allows you to fly when the weather conditions are not great in the massifs. South of the lake, you’ll find the Parc Naturel Régional des Bauges, which is an amazing playground with summits that are easily accessible and many takeoff sites. North of the lake, the lifts of Grand-Bornard and la Clusaz allow you to takeoff from a higher altitude. All these takeoff spots are extremely popular in summer .
Incredible Vantage Points
Paragliding around Annecy Lake is popular because the circuits are beautiful and present multiple configurations. Fly around the surrounding areas gives you the chance to admire the limestone cliffs of Dents de Lanfon and the Tournette, the turquoise colored water of the second biggest lake in France and the majestic crests of Bauges and Aravis. When you land it’s great to dive in for a swim in the crystalline water!
Professional Paragliding Instructors at your Service
There are around a dozen paragliding schools in Annecy that offers various paragliding services to beginners or experts. The accident rate in 2013 was less than 0.033%. Of course like most sports, paragliding still involves a certain risk factor, but technological progression has made the activity safer than ever before. During the paragliding season which runs from May to October, it’s almost impossible to miss the brightly colored gliders flying in the air, making the sky more colorful and attractive.
Top Photo Credit: Patrick Hendry