The first untethered manned hot-air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes on 21 November 1783, in Paris, in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers. With this historical insight in mind, there’s no better place than to take a hot-air balloon ride than the city where it all started.
There is a surprising number of companies offering to suspend you in a wicker basket, giving you a unique bird’s eye view of Paris from above. If you’re a fan of record-breakers, then the biggest hot-air balloon in the world can actually be found at Paris’s Parc André Citroën, open to the public with Ballon Generali.
Hovering at an altitude of 150 metres, drifting away with the wind, you will discover the capital like never before. This company is also one of the cheapest ways to travel in a hot-air balloon across Paris, as prices are capped at a modest €12 for adults, €6 for children (3-11), and under-threes go free.
If what entices you to take to the sky is the chance to discover the sublime scope of nature and marvel at endless sweeping fields, then you should consider Aerfun Balloons. Not only will you be able to gaze at the deep valleys and luscious woods of the French countryside, but you will also catch sight of the castles and charming cluster of villages.
While the beauty of nature is in abundance during this flight, you don’t actually have to go too far out of your way to attend. The meeting point is Maintenon train station, only a 50-minute train journey from Paris’s Montparnasse train station, or a 35-minute journey by train from Chateau de Versailles. The price is more expensive, at €220 per head, but the duration is much longer (three to four hours) and you’re also treated to a glass of Champagne on arrival.
If your budget can stretch to complete luxury, then go for the ultimate hot-air balloon journey over Paris with Viator. The trip is mainly above the Fontainebleau Forest, which is one of the most beautiful expanses on the edge of Paris. This was once the hunting ground of French kings, and if you look carefully (don’t forget to bring binoculars), you might even see the wild boar, deer, and pheasant that still roam these lands. This flight lasts three hours with Champagne and you can even have dinner on board. All flights depend on weather conditions, so you’re best contacting the company on the day of your visit to confirm your plans. If there are clear skies forecast, there is no better way to see Paris.