With 4 official launch sites, a beginner slope and 300 days of sunshine per year, paragliding pilots are discovering the Ubaye Valley’s ideal conditions in ever greater numbers.
Tandem, Ridge Flying and Cross-Country Paragliding in the Ubaye Valley
In the sky high above the Ubaye river paragliding pilots play with the thermals and skim along mountain ridges. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker curious to discover what it’s like to soar with the birds, or an experienced pilot long ago bitten by the paragliding bug, you’ll feel right at home in the Ubaye Valley.
The tone is set over Serre-Ponçon lake, at the entrance to the Valley, where dozens of paragliders criss-cross each other in the light evening breeze. This is the Saint-Vincent-les-Forts site, one of the best in France, but the punchy air makes it the reserve of experienced pilots only. Conveniently sheltered from the strong northerlies, ideal weather systems for paragliding extend from Lauzet to Maljasset making this a top cross-country flying zone.
Ubaye Valley Paragliding Sites
The Ubaye Valley has 4 official take off sites which allow pilots to fly in a range of conditions.
1. Point de Vue
Located above the town of Faucon at 1612 m Point de Vu is an easily accessible training hill. Ideal for beginners, you can expect flights of between 10 and 25 minutes long.
2. Soleil Boef
Soleil Boef is one of the Ubaye Valley’s top sites. Take off from 2214 m for a vertical drop of 1060 m. The site works best morning and evening and you can expect flights of between 15 and 45 minutes over Barcelonnette. You need a 4×4 to reach the take off. The less than straightforward access keeps the numbers down and the flying is serene and the backdrop spectacular.
Both Point de Vue and Soleil Boef use the La Chaup landing site which is the easiest and most convenient landing in the Ubaye Valley.
3. Pra Loup
Accessible via a shuttle bus then a cable car, Pra Loup is one of the easiest sites to get to. From the ski resort, it’s 1000 m vertical drop with flights averaging 15 to 20 minutes. An easy take off facing directly east means it’s a reliable site, but the tight landing makes Pra Loup unsuitable for beginners.
4. Le Dôme de l’Alp
At 2200 m, Le Dôme de l’Alp overlooks the Sauze ski resort. The take off and landing are one and the same. This is high altitude ridge flying with a spectacular backdrop.
Pierre-Henri from Incondition’aile Parapente says the evening flying is exceptional with quality thermals that allow huge height gain. If conditions are right you can see the Barre des Ecrins and even the Mont Blanc. The fact that pilots take off and land at the same spot makes for a really good atmosphere.
Le Dôme de l’Alp is also a great site for winter flying. Take off on skis for a more leisurely, gentler flight in smooth cold air and enjoy the view over the snow-covered valley.
The Ubaye Valley caters for pilots of all levels. Until you’re a qualified pilot, sites like Point de Vue offer a good training ground. Then, once you’re experienced you can take on the ridge flying and cross-country flying of the Upper Ubaye Valley.
Ubaye Valley Paragliding Videos
Paragliding with accro master François Ragolski in Saint-Vincent-les-Forts
Catching up with François Ragolski, the frenchy paragliging star, triple winner of the Paragliding Worldcup. Filmed in a single afternoon session in St Vincent les forts in summer 2014.
Tandem paragliding over the lac de Serre-Ponçon at Saint-Vincent-les-Forts
A tandem paragliding flight is a great way to experience the thrill of the sport without needing to take lessons. A number of paragliding schools operate throughout the year in the Ubaye Valley. Here, Glide paragliding school gives us an insight into what it’s like to fly tandem over the Lac de Serr-Ponçon.
Please leave a comment below if you need specific advice for your Paragliding Trip to the Ubaye Valley, or if you have any recommendations to help us improve this guide. Happy holidays!