Europe, July/August, March/April, May/June, Travel Guide

Guide to Annecy, France

Tuesday 4 February, 2014
Contemplating crossing the lake back to Montmin during a Tour du Lac. Photo: Jérôme Maupoint

Contemplating crossing the lake back to Montmin during a Tour du Lac. Photo: Jérôme Maupoint

Classic Alpine flying with everything made easy for you.


Surf up searing limestone escarpments, cross the azure waters of Europe’s cleanest lake, and soar for miles along ridges that seem almost purpose-made for XC flying. Land, take a dip in the lake then peruse the local paragliding shops for the latest equipment. Annecy is a free-flyer’s paradise and arguably the Alps’ most popular flying area, for very good reasons.

Annecy sits on the north-west corner of the Alps. The valley opens out on to the plains and allows fantastic flying opportunities, particularly when the conditions are too unstable to fly deeper in the mountains. The picturesque city of Annecy sits at the top of the 15-kilometre lake, which has take-offs on both sides.

Pilots flock here throughout the year as the easy access and simple XC routes offer an unprecedented flying experience. The presence of the lake makes it perfect for SIV and acro courses and for manufacturers to test their wings.

The main take-off is high above the southern end of the lake and faces west. It starts working around 1.30 pm on a good day. It’s a simple soar north along the west-facing ridges to the Dents de Lanfon, a spectacular limestone pinnacle. From there, pilots either head across the lake, north to Annecy town or east into the bigger mountains and towards Mt Blanc. Continuous west-facing ridges make for easy XC routes and allow big triangles and out-and-returns.

The lower take-off at Planfait, a man-made cutting in the forest above the landing at Perroix, starts working a bit earlier and takes you straight on to the Dents de Lanfon. For an even earlier start it’s possible to launch from a small, east-facing take-off at Entrevernes. However, the launch is tiny, only a wing’s width wide, and it’s difficult to get away from.

To the west of the lake lies Semnoz, a sublime west-facing ridge that runs for 35 easy kilometres to the south, giving you possibly the easiest 70 km out-and-return in the world.

The XC potential of Annecy is limitless. The basic Petit Tour du Lac is a first step for many pilots on their XC careers. The longer Grand Tour du Lac crosses over the edge of Annecy city itself and is a fantastic day out. Other longer routes take you south towards Grenoble or east towards Mt Blanc.

The main landing is at the southern end of the lake near Doussard, in a huge field next to the sports hall. A smaller landing at Perroix, just north of Talloires, enjoys a great bar and not one, but two, well-stocked paragliding shops and a repair centre. The local community and authorities are as pro-free flying as anywhere in the world.

Shuttles service both launches from Perroix landing, and hitching is easy because everyone knows what’s in your big bag.

Easy mountain thermal flying, giving access to XC routes of all size and grandeur. A valley breeze sets up down the lake from the north-west every day. If it’s coming the other way, something is wrong! Annecy can be strong in spring but tends to mellow in midsummer as the area becomes more stable. Then the nearby site of Grand Bornand is a better option.

April till October

Cloudbase: 2,000 – 3,500 m
Launch: Montmin 1,240 m, Planfait 960 m
Landing: Doussard 460 m, Perroix 540 m

Both main launches are driveable, and hang gliders are catered for with ramps at Montmin.

The tours of the lake are simple but exceptional XCs. A late afternoon jaunt down the impressive Aravis chain to the east is a fantastic evening run for pilots of any level.

There’s a small airport in Annecy, and the airspace for nearby Chambery touches the very northern end of Semnoz

Cu-Nims to the north can send strong gusts down the lake. Keep an eye on the water for indications.

Annecy town has hotels and hostels of every variety. Camping is available close to the Perroix landing and at the end of the lake near Doussard. Expat Brit Irwyn Jehu runs www.maison-du-moulin.co.uk, a pilots’ B&B, from just near Doussard at the end of the lake.

There are a wealth of courses and guides operating out of Annecy. Try www.lespassagersduvent.com, www.parapente-annecy.com or www.flyeo.com for experienced local guides and instructors. The British guide Bob Drury says: “I taught XC in Annecy for ten years, as it has everything pilots need to learn in beautiful surroundings and with easy logistics.”

The tours of the lake and the route to Chamonix via the Aravis.

Oh yes, they’ll love it! Not only is the lake beautiful, warm and clean, but there’s are no end of activities, both outdoor and inside in Annecy. A walk around the city itself with an ice cream by the canal is a must for every visitor.

Peruse the well-stocked flying shops, then wander the old parts of the city or head into the hills for a big stomp.

Daily forecasts are posted at both the shops in Perroix, or use www.meteofrance.com or www.para2000.org.

Geneva is the closest major international airport. Take a train into Geneva then on to Annecy, or hire a car.

Try any of the schools’ websites for flying information. Go to www.lac-annecy.com for general information.

• Got news? Send it to us at news@xccontent.local

Buy and sell gear on Skyads.aero


Never miss an issue

Our subscribers receive 10 issues a year, the annual Travel Guide and exclusive access to competitions and offers

Subscribe today
Back to Europe July/August March/April May/June Travel Guide
Back to Europe July/August March/April May/June Travel Guide

Got a story?

If you have news, great images or a story, let us know

Get in touch

Join the family

By subscribing, you support the only worldwide paragliding, paramotoring and hang gliding magazine and you get:

  • Ten issues delivered to your door through the year
  • A 100+ page Travel Guide to the world’s best flying sites delivered with the Feb/March issue each year
  • Plus: Win a paraglider in our annual subscribers’ draw each January
  • Pay annually or monthly with paypal or credit card
Subscribe today

Subscribe and never miss an issue

Digital edition

per month

  • Ten packed issues delivered via Zinio
  • Travel Guide with the Feb/March issue each year
  • Read offline on iPad, laptop or phone
  • Exactly the same magazines as print

Print edition

per month

  • Ten packed issues airmailed to you
  • Travel Guide with the Feb/March issue each year
  • Perfect-bound journals, high quality production
  • Chance to win two new wings in exclusive draws

Print and digital

per month

  • All the benefits of print and digital!
  • Plus exclusive discount vouchers for books and products
News and special offers. No spam ever