We had wanted to return to France since our Europe climbing trip in 2006: with unsurpassable food, rock, mountains, paragliding and more, France is definitely a place we will return to again and again. We spent two months climbing, hiking, paragliding, from August into October 2011 and still found it hard to leave!
We started off bouldering in Fontainebleau, since it is close to Paris, then on to Chamonix for some alpine rock climbing. Then in Annecy we met some friends, Andy and Susi, with whom we were going to do an SIV course - that's a paragliding manoeuvres course where you make your glider do all sorts of crazy things to learn to recover it. We spent some time with them paragliding around Annecy and climbed a via ferrata. Then we went on to Laragne where we did a paragliding cross-country course with world champion hang gliding and paragliding pilot, Judy Leden.
After climbing in Sisteron and Orpierre which are nearby, we went to St Hilaire for the world famous Coupe Icare free flying festival, a fun and crazy festival with the well known 'parade' or masquerade of paragliders launching and flying in some outrageous and awkward costumes. While there, we hiked up to a peak called Dent Du Crolle behind the main site for a hike and fly, managing to launch between a break in the clouds.
Back in Annecy, we did more climbing and a great hike and fly from Col des Frettes where we also met a lady and her paragliding dog. Not far from Chamonix we then participated in a small festival called 'Vol Libre, Flying Light' which is all about hike and fly. We met some really lovely people there (we seemed to be the only non-French participants!) and did a really lovely hike and fly with them from Mont Vorassay, landing in St Gervais. All in all, it was a jam-packed trip with lots of variety.