Le Ballon Bleu

Balloon flights over the Auvergne        

Our balloon over the Sioule river

Leave your worries behind

It has been said that if flight were a language, ballooning would be its poetry. Floating just over thre trees or at two kilometers in the sky, drifting with the wind, you leave your earthly worries behind you...

We offer exclusive (or VIP) balloon flights for two in a private basket over the hills over the Combrailles, in the Auvergne. You will float gently over the winding gorge of the Sioule river, the monumental Viaduc des Fades or over the typical knobbly plateau with its patches of woodland, small rural settlements, brooks and small lakes. The chain of volcanoes is usually visible at the horizon, while the morning sun and the frequent fog banks in the Sioule valley create a magical atmosphere.

See the page with photo's of the area - some of which have been taken from our balloon.


Ballooning nobility
and a good laugh

After landing, you will be elevated into the ranks of ballooning nobility during a hilarious baptism ceremony. Your title will be mentioned on your flight certificate and of course there will be bubbly drinks to celebrate.


Exclusive flights in a private basket

We prefer to fly a relatively small balloon that is also suitable for competition flying and won't break the crew's backs when carrying it out of a field. That means we can't transport large numbers of tourists; but we take paying passengers to help pay for this rather expensive hobby. Two passengers (of 75 kg average weight) plus our slightly overweight pilot is the maximum our balloon can carry in moderate temperatures up to 1000 metres above sea level (which is about 300 metres over the ground locally). Thus the people we do take up during the season get a truly exclusive flight in a "private basket". Some companies call this a VIP flight... For us, every passenger is a VIP.

Book a whole holiday

Of course the ideal way to organize a ballooning holiday is to book a week in our cosy 3-star studio and combine your stay with a flight. Our guests get priority when we plan our flights and need only a modest downpayment upon reservation when they book the studio and flight at the same time. They pay the balance of the flight only when we fly. And there is enough to do in the area, especially if you like outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, riding, canoeing and fishing. Or visiting castles. Or ancient volcanoes. Or...
If you don't want to stay a whole week, or bring your family along to see you fly, there are many good B&Bs and holiday homes in the area. Just Google 'Combrailles'.


Practical tips

Ballooning is very safe, but also very weather dependent. We only fly in good weather: light winds, good visibility, a stable atmosphere and no nearby thunderstorms. Do realize that a flight may be cancelled at the last moment, or shortened, when conditions degrade. And that the landing may be in rough terrain.
For your own comfort and safety, wear strong closed shoes or boots, and strong clothes that cover your arms and legs - basically, dress as if you were going for a hike in the woods (and think about nettles: no sandals or shorts!). Choose natural fibers over artificial ones for fire safety.


Booking and planning

When you decide to fly with us, let us know well in advance, as we have to organize our flights taking into account the availability of our crew (all volunteers), the activities of the French air force, and of course the weather forecasts.

Use this booking form to print and mail ito book your flight:

You will find our ballooning base here :

Le Ballon Bleu
63390 SAURET-BESSERVE
Tel. 0033 (0)4 73 85 31 57

Sauret-Besserve is situated about 5 km south of St.-Gervais-d'Auvergne. Follow the (brown) road signs to 'Fades-Besserve' and stop at the former Auberge des Buissons, about 1 km outside Sauret-Besserve. Our chalet is just next to it. Click on the little map for an enlargement. Or go to our map page.

Rates

Order form (pdf)

Standard tickets:

- Ticket for 2 , valid 7 days/7 including weekends: 550 euros .
- Ticket for 2, valid on workdays (Monday-Friday): 495 euros .
- Ticket for 1 person 'solo' with the pilot (valid 7 days/7): 385 euros.

Note that for Valentine's Day, we offer the Ticket for 2, valid 7 days/7, with a reduction of 55 euros, and with an adapted 'Valentine' gift certificate. Offer valid until 14 February. Call us for information.

Specials:

- Ticket for 3 'feathers' (lightweight passengers, total weight max. 180 kg),
valid 7 days/7: 605 euros.
- Crazy Girls Flight special rate: click for information and the order form for a reduced rate!

In all cases, the flight will be without other passengers in our private basket. Tickets are valid for one year, and can be extended under certain conditions.

Order form

(pdf file; print and complete).

Contact us for further information on:
+33 (0)4 73 85 31 57
or e-mail us at leballonbleu@orange.fr .

Team JOYNathalie, Frank and Sego the donkey

For almost 20 years, the core of balloonteam JOY has consisted of Frank Schweppe (pilot) and Nathalie Fischer (crew chief). The then young Dutch pilot and French crew member (of a German team) met in 1989 during a paraballooning competition in Austria...

Nathalie made her first balloon flight in Germany at the age of 16. She is our principal host, bakes delicious cakes for the crew and passengers and frequently acts as the navigator in the chase vehicle during the retrieve.

Frank Schweppe is a Dutch copywriter, magazine editor and book author. He gained his balloon pilot's licence in 1986, has flown more than a thousand hours in hot-air balloons and is a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society as he has his head in the clouds...
Has a strong preference for soft landings.

Aside from a pilot and crew chief a balloon needs two more pairs of hands during inflation. Our passengers usually lend a hand, but we have friends who help us on a voluntary basis as chase vehicle drivers and -navigators, as we prefer to have two people in the chase vehicle: one who navigates and taks to the pilot on the radio, and one who drives and concentrates on the road. Without those friends we would not be able to fly our balloon.

Weather in our area
(in French, sorry !)

Note that we need calm and dry weather to ensure a pleasant and safe flight. We certainly do not fly in winds of more than 20 km/h. The weather data below are averages for a whole day. Morning and afternoon may differ a lot, and we also look at upper winds data and other professional-level aviation weather info.

Météo Saint-Gervais-d'Auvergne