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Fly Me to the Moon
There is something otherworldly about seeing a hot air balloon drifting through the sky. They conjure up the spirit of adventure, romance and lots of old world charm.
Every last week-end in September, 30 balloons from all over Europe take off in front of the world heritage UNESCO site of Rocamadour. You are in for a captivating event as these magnificent flying machines take off in front of the medieval grandeur of the ancient city in a festival of flight.
Named after the French engineers who achieved the world’s first ever successful hot air balloon flight in 1793, the Montgolfiades of Rocamadour is a two day week-end celebration, every last Saturday and Sunday in September. Over 30 balloons take off, gracefully floating in front of the village, the sanctuary and castle towers of Rocamadour. Bring your camera because it’s picture perfect and you will definitely get some great shots.
The only way is up
Running for over 30 years, it is one of the Europe’s biggest ballooning festivals and this annual September event involves two launches per day.
The sunrise flights in the early morning around 8am and again in the late afternoon at around 5pm as the afternoon sun begins to mellow. For the curious, passionate or motivated, get up early to watch the pilots laying out and inflating their balloons.
Various entertainment is staged between the two major launch slots in Rocamadour itself, or you can simply pay a visit to the ancient city for a relaxed lunch or drink (look out for a special Brocante too) as you wait for the balloons to fill the sky.
Take to the skies above Rocamadour
Outside of this festival, you too can experience your very own hot air balloon flight by booking a trip from the Alzou canyon above Rocamadour and the Sanctuary. Marvel at the beauty of the Dordogne Valley below you as you drift through the sky. The company Rocamadour Aerostat can organise flights throughout the year.
The best places to watch the balloons take off are from l’Hospitalet (the village above Rocamadour) and from the fields at the bottom in the Alzou canyon. The event gets quite busy but temporary car parks open for the occasion so parking is easy, just follow the signs.
The event is free. If you wish to eat on site, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from but remember to book ahead.