France has a multitude of perfect paragliding spots, from the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps, to the beaches of Normandy. This stunning country has a wide variety of paragliding and tandem paragliding experiences to offer everyone, from experienced paragliders to complete beginners to the sport.
The possibilities of what scenery to soar over when practicing this sport in France, are endless. Boasting a whole host of natural phenomena, from UNESCO listed Biosphere Reserves to volcanic domes, it’s almost impossible to decide what to see as you soar… but here are our top 10 locations to give you some inspiration!
Puy de Dôme
Paraglide from the top of the 10,000 year old lava dome, Puy de Dôme. Gain stunning views of the surrounding lush green countryside and of the other domes, or dormant volcanoes, in the Chaine des Puys volcanic chain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Paragliding around the Puy de Dôme is a unique thrill and this fascinating, magnificent location is subsequently a popular destination for the sport.
In the west of the Auvergne Rhone-Alpes region, a 25 minutes’ drive from the city of Clermont-Ferrand and a two hour’s drive from this region’s largest city of Lyon, this perfect paragliding spot is surrounded by countryside but still easy to get to. Located within the beautiful Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne, this chain of dormant volcanic hills offers stunning views that are best seen from a tandem paragliding flight.
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Morzine, Portes du Soleil
Take off from 1600 metres above the Portes du Soleil ski resort of Morzine, soar above the slopes, peaks and chalets of this popular ski-sports region. Morzine is the perfect destination for paragliding adventures, due to its peaks of varying heights, views of snow-covered mountains and opportunities to take off on skis!
Learn to paraglide in this spot, opt for a scenic flight to take in the majesty of the Alps, or for an adrenaline rush between mountain biking and hiking around this location. Take advantage of some of the best thermal winds in Europe and try some aerobatics over this beautiful area – one of the world’s largest ski resorts.
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This destination is a world famous spot in the south-east of France, known in the paragliding world for being the host-town of the Coupe Icare. Also known as the Icarus Cup, this annual free flying event held in St Hilaire and the village of Lumbin, in the valley below, brings paragliding enthusiasts from all over the world. This 8 day annual festival, held in this area since 1974, offers visitors four scenic take off areas, near the cliff top village of Saint Hilaire, and a landing area 750m below in Lumbin. Saint Hilaire is easily accessible from Grenoble, only around a 25km drive, and the take-off points are easily accessed by hiking.
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This stunning lakeside city in southeastern France is a paragliding haven, with tourists flocking from the world-over to get in on the action. With the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps, lush green forests and the bright blue waters of the lake as a backdrop for this activity, you can see why it’s so popular! With a number of different flight types, routes and lengths on offer at this location and paragliding training also available, Annecy has an air sport experience for everyone!
Located just under an hour’s drive from the Swiss city of Geneva and on the edge of the French Alps, Annecy is a well-located and stunning spot for paragliding. The Col de la Forclaz mountain pass, where a number of paragliding competitions have been held over the years, is located at the south of Lake Annecy and is a world-famous take-off location.
Take a look at our selection of paragliding activities near Annecy.
The beautiful slopes of the Aravis mountain range await. Le Grand-Bornand; around 30km east of Annecy, in the Auvergne Rhone-Alpes region is a fantastic spot for paragliding. Whether you’re looking for a short introductory flight of 10 minutes or a 45 minute ride, head up to 2100 metres up Mont Lachat for a take-off point with a gorgeous panoramic view of the Aravis Mountains.
Head to Le Grand-Bornand for incredible paragliding experiences – see the peaks of the French Alps from the skies, gain breath-taking views and make unforgettable memories. This destination is popular in winter, due to the Aravis ski resort, and popular again the rest of the year due to the great opportunities for paragliding. This area offers short scenic flights, sensation flights – filled with thrilling aerobatics as well as longer, up to 40 minutes, thermal flights, taking advantage of the great thermals in the area, for a longer flying experience.
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Dune du Pilat
Paraglide over the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s tallest sand dune… This naturally occurring sand wall, 65km south-west of Bordeaux, is situated along the coast of the Bay of Biscay. This stunning natural landmark and popular tourist destination is a world-famous paragliding location, with optimal winds for soaring above the dunes and the coastline. Offering fabulous views and the opportunity for soaring flights, this 110m high foredune is a stunning location to get some air.
Paragliding flights over the Dune du Pilat offer views reminiscent of flying over a desert, with dunes incomparable to any others found in Europe – this spot is especially spectacular at sunset. Gain great views of the Cap Ferret peninsula and its stunning lighthouse and of Arcachon Bay.
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Just 50km north-west of the beautiful port-city of Caen, Omaha Beach is a paragliding location steeped in history. This beach in Normandy, on the coast of the English Channel, was a prominent location during WWII, being where Allied forces invaded Occupied France in 1944. A tandem paragliding flight over this stunning beach is a great way to immerse yourself in this area’s abundance of history, as well as being a great location to try a more aerobatic flight to discover the sites and the sport at higher speeds.
Take advantage of the area’s great thermals and soar above this expansive stretch of beach as well as taking in views of the scenic countryside areas of Vierville Sur Mer and de Tracy Sur Mer, for a full exploration of this historic area. Omaha Beach is the place to go for peaceful paragliding flights over the beaches and cliffs of northern France.
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Boasting incredible Pyrenean scenery and a whole host of paragliding training schools, (for those looking to learn to fly themselves), this less-touristy spot is a dreamy place to learn, within stunning scenery at the heart of the Pyrénées Ariégeoises. An hour’s drive from the French border with Andorra and 88km from Toulouse, the charming city of Foix, renowned for its stunning 10th century hilltop castle in the city’s centre, is a scenic destination on the border of the Pyrenees Natural Park. Head to Foix for paragliding flights with stunning views.
Head from Foix to the nearby take off points of Port de Lers, a mountain pass at the centre of the French Pyrénées – a popular area in the region for paragliding, at an elevation of 1517 metres, or the takeoff site of Prat D’Albis, just 12 km out of Foix, for great mountain and forest views.
Check out our paragliding activity selection near Foix.
Le Markstein, East of France
This beautiful mountain ski sports resort is located in the Grand Est region in the east of France, near the Vosges Mountains area. Located 50km from the cities of Colmar and Mulhouse, the Markstein resort is an overall lesser-known paragliding spot, but a popular destination for those who have heard of it. Having previously hosted the Paragliding World Cup, Le Markstein is known to be a brilliant location for paragliding, boasting some superb take-off sites.
A fascinating destination to paraglide around, set in the Vosges Regional Natural Park, this mountain near the border of three countries, offers unique paragliding opportunities, and is a great place to take a longer paragliding course to learn the maneuvers, aerology and technicalities of the sport. Take off points include from Trehkopf – a summit at 1266 metres, a short drive from Le Markstein, and from the nearby town of Mittlach.
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This limestone mountain’s bright white summit at 1910 metres is a beautiful spot to paraglide over. See this natural phenomenon from the sky and soar around and over this UNESCO listed Biosphere Reserve, in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region of France. Approximately a 65km drive from the stunning medieval city of Avignon, this magnificent mountain – that comes alive in the winter with a popular ski resort there, is a beautiful place to practice this sport.
Check out more of our articles about this exhilarating aerial sport, such as our Complete Guide to tandem paragliding or see our full selection of articles including top paragliding destinations in Africa, best destinations for paragliding in Greece and top 5 paragliding spots in Switzerland.
Explore our selection of paragliding activities.
For more information on paragliding rules, regulations, training and practical information in France, head to the Fédération Française de Vol Libre’s website.
Top Photo Credit: Guillaume de Germain