Europe, January/February, March/April, November/December, September/October, Travel Guide

Guide to Roquebrune, Monaco

Monday 17 February, 2014
Drop in on a billionaire for tea. Photo: Fredrik Gustafsson

Drop in on a billionaire for tea. Photo: Fredrik Gustafsson

Soar above the Mediterranean villas of the super-rich before dropping down to land on the beach. A place where summer has already started while the rest of Europe is in the grip of winter.


The principality of Monaco is known the world over for its glamour and wealth – the CIA say it has the highest concentration of billionaires on the planet. The site is also well-known to the paragliding world as the finish line of the Red Bull X-Alps.

The site itself actually falls outside the principality of Monaco and is in France, but as you’d expect for such a place, the main launch is beautifully carpeted. It also caters for different wind directions.

Getting to launch though can be tricky through a maze of streets. Luckily there is a daily navette that runs four times a day and costs just €3 a day, no matter how often you use it.

This is a coastal site so can still be flyable when the inland sites are affected by northerly winds. The sea breeze usually prevails but if the Mistral is blowing hard it can create strong west winds, which are best avoided.

On magical days convergence sets up and you can climb high above the principality in thermic conditions. Even when there isn’t much lift the 700m top-to-bottom will give you plenty of time to enjoy the view.

The landing is on the beach at Roquebrune below the take-off. Although narrow it is long and easy enough to approach: aim for the centre by the bar, but watch for obstacles and the small stream.

Avoid the extremities where there can be turbulence. The east end is popular with naturists; landing there can be shocking for all.

October to April. Flying is banned from 1 May to 1 October due to the beach crowds.

Take-off: 686m
Landing: sea level
Cloudbase: 1,000-3,000m

No. The site isn’t used by hang gliders because of the restricted landing and a walk out.

Most pilots will content themselves with a local flight, however, XC flights are possible, especially when convergence sets up. Routes head north to Sospel and beyond; pilots have flown over 100km into Italy in recent years.

The hike-and-fly to Col de Berceau above Menton is hard work but offers a spectacular fly down to the beach at Menton, which falls under the same restrictions as Roquebrune.

Flying at Roquebrune is heavily regulated, with the rules enforceable under local law. It might be Monaco, but jail’s still jail. Make sure you are fully aware of the site rules. SIV and flying acro are restricted; a safety boat is required, which can be arranged through the local club.

There is an active military base on top of Mont Gros, don’t overfly it if heading off XC.

The site can become turbulent in east winds and is best flown in light (less than 20km/h) south to south westerly winds. Keep an eye on the water for signs of approaching gusts.

The area is heaving with hotels and gites. To keep costs down stay in France, not Monaco. If the weather is set fair you could base yourself near the sites of Gourdon and Gréolières, about an hour-and-a-half drive inland.

From aquariums to palaces to casinos there is a lot to do in Monaco and the south coast of France. X-Alps fans might like to find the Stars and Bars bar, which hosts the Red Bull X-Alps end party. Drinking a cocktail while dreaming of owning one of the yachts moored in the harbour is one way to ease your way through a windy day.

Meteo Blue gives accurate forecasts, as well as the local shipping forecast. There is a local wind meter on the site: on frequency 143.9875.

The nearest airport is Nice from where you can transfer in style via helicopter or, if your budget is a bit tighter, train or bus. If you only want to fly Roquebrune you can rely on public transport and the navette – it leaves from the end of the road near the train station just above the beach.

If you drive head to La Turbie then follow the signs to Monte Carlo Golf Club, turning right at the radio antennae. Parking is limited and hitching back up at the end of the day can be tricky – the navette is best.

The local club is Roquebrune Ailes

Azure Parapente is the local school

Riviera Radio 105.9 is the local English-language service

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

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