Cascade Paragliding Club

 

Note: Some of the small images are linked to larger versions.

Welcome in Annecy!

Annecy is in France, close to the Switzerland border, not so far from Italy and Germany.

The road (distance) around the lake is nearly 25 miles.

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Lake Annecy (576x432)

The Tour of the Lake gives you a first XC opportunity of 30 miles (approximately) of circumference. It is the very beginning of the French Northern Alps where Mont Blanc, 14,421', is only 50 miles away. The lake elevation must be roughly 1350' above sea level and gentle mountains surrounding the lake are between 4800' to 7056'.

This natural environment makes of Annecy and its area a great spot for paragliders. Pilots from all over the world come and fly in Annecy. Lots of competitions stand here during summer time too.

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Map 1 (864x496)

These past 4 days, temperatures were around 90 degrees and the water is getting close to 75°. Real bummer… cummies and ceilings were approximately between 6000' and 8000'!

In reference to the map, north direction is approximately like this: While flying, Mont Blanc will show you the east direction!

On the very center of this picture, you can see the “Dents de Lanfon” (area #2). Further on the right with snowfields is “La Tournette” 7056'. View from the “Dents de Lanfon” (area #2) we can see now the “Semnoz” ridge (area #4) and the “Roc des Bœufs” in area #5.

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Map 2 (864x496)

Let’s cut the lake in 5 main areas:

AREA #1 or “MONTMIN” LAUNCH (also named “Col [pass] de la Forclaz”)

3600' above sea level, Montmin launch is the highest launch spot where you can drive by regular car. From the parking lot, it’s only 30 seconds walk to get to the launch area. It’s also the main launch of the lake, the most famous because of its unbeatable view of the lake.

Depending on your wing glide ratio, it’s at least a 10 to 15 minutes sled to the Montmin LZ, on the very foot of the figure “1” of the Map 2. Montmin launches are based on the “O” of “Forclaz.” See Map 2, area #1.

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Main Montmin Launch

There are 6 launches at Montmin, shared by hang & paragliders. If you want to come and fly over here be ready to share the space with dozens of gliders in greatest summer weekend days. Unfortunately Annecy is victim of its success. When thermals are big and a little bit everywhere around the lake, being numerous is not a big deal. But when they’re getting smaller, there could be troubles. Best wind directions for Montmin launches are west from SW to NW, knowing that NW is ideal.

The wind at the Montmin is usually NW (coming from Annecy to the end of the lake) and it could be strong time to time. But nothing to scare an Oregon pilot!

Montmin launches are usually the departure for spectacular XC’s through the Alps. Best local pilots starts here, fly then over “La Tournette” 7056' peak just behind the Montmin ridge, then leave the lake toward Mont Blanc or other directions. I just made it for the very first time 2 days ago. That was magic!

At Montmin, you will mostly fly in the lake breeze, mixed with thermals, then you’ll get some alo' winds.

AREA #2 or PLANFAIT LAUNCH

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Planfait

2946' above sea level, Planfait launch is the second highest spot around Annecy and is also drivable with a regular car. Bigger parking lot, you’ll get to the launch area in no time.

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Planfait

There is only one mainly paraglider launch at Planfait. Because of the beautiful and majestic rock and cliff above the launch, “Les Dents de Lanfon” (the Teeths of Lanfon), this launch is usually crowded and not always friendly in summer time, I must say.

View From Planfait Launch. We can see the “Semnoz” ridge on the right (area #4) and the “Roc des Bœufs” ridge in the center (area #5).

“Les Dents de Lanfon” are the first part of a scenic flight. Once you’re up there, you can cruise to the “Lanfonnet,” the second right part of this ridge on Map 2. Once at the summit of the teeth, you will be at 5100'.

“Les Dents de Lanfon” are another good departure for XC’s. From there you can either go:

• East / NE on another teeth called “La Dent du Cruet,” then go to the 8 miles of the Parmelan cliffs XC.

• North on Area 3, called “Le Veyrier” close to Annecy city. You will fly above the Middle Ages Castle of Menthon Saint Bernard.

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Panorama (675x219)

The castle is just in the middle of Area #2 and #3. Behind you can see the long ridge of “Le Roc des Bœufs” (The Bull Rock) in area #5.

• SW above the lake, toward the Area 5. It’s one of the classic crossings called “the little tour” of the lake. You start at Planfait, area #2. Cross to area #5 and fly all over the “Roc des Bœufs” in mainly ridge wind, then land at Montmin LZ, area #1 ([XX] miles XC). A longer way of the Little Tour will take you the Montmin launch, area #1. You cross then to “Lanfonnet,” then go to “Les Dents de Lanfon” in area #2. You cross over the lake toward “Le Roc des Bœufs” direction and land at Montmin LZ. It’s a [XX] miles XC.

• SE toward “La Tournette” mountain.

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Castle of Duingt (432x437)

Close to the area #5, the Castle of Duingt faces Planfait Launch and Lanfon’s teeth. The launch area is rather big and around 20 pilots can setup at the same time their wings and get ready to take off.

Wind direction at Planfait launch is mostly NW. But when it is crossed coming from north with rotors.

Like Montmin LZ, Planfait LZ is rather narrow but long! The red line shows a power line and the red cross shows a private property where the owner is fed up of helping beginners descending of his roof!

The first part of the field, “atterro,” shows the area where you want to land. The “pliage” area is where you will fold your wing.

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Main folding area, Planfait

Because of the breeze of the lake, the last 600' descent over that LZ is quite unstable. The penetration is bad. Big ears are recommended.

Montmin and Planfait LZ’s are the 2 official landing zones. There are lots of fields in the area of the lake where you might land. Choose one where the grass has been cut in case of XC.

AREA #3 or VEYRIER MOUNTAIN

There are no launches at “Veyrier du Lac.” It is just a “transit” mountain where good pilots take a final thermal on its lee side before crossing to the “Semnoz” on the other bank of Annecy, area #4.

All along the Veyrier ridge, there are no LZ’s either!! But you can be “safe” if you can reach the lee side of this mountain where lots of fields will wait for you if you can’t return or cross.

I can tell now that this transition is one of the most stressful because it’s the longest one: 4 miles, roughly. If you can’t make it directly from a ridge to another, fly over the roofs of Annecy city and catch thermals as much as you can. They may help you to go on area #4.

On Map 2, you can see a line splitting the ridge in two equal parts. Actually, it shows the former line of the cable car going up to the summit. And it is also the spot of one of the best thermals of Veyrier ridge!

Above this ridge, you’ll have one of the best views of Annecy. You will catch the lake breeze, as well as thermals.

AREA #4 or SEMNOZ MOUNTAIN

You are now halfway on your “Great Tour” of the lake. Depending on weather conditions, “Le Semnoz” is mainly ridge wind.

Like I said, transition from area 3 to area 4 is pretty long. If you’re too low at the beginning there are lots of chances that you will reach the foot of “Le Semnoz” only 300 to 450 feet high at its very beginning. And no field for an LZ. The higher, the better!

Then start a long climb in dynamic wind and sometime comes little thermals. “Le Semnoz” is quite flat where thermals are not big and strong. I haven’t been successful yet to fly it entirely and last time I had to land and hitchhike to come back to my car.

AREA #5 or “LE ROC DES BŒUFS” MOUNTAIN

Le Roc des Bœufs is a fairly impressive mountain. In fact it’s a spine! The beginning of this ridge starts close to the lake near the Castle of Duingt. Over there, it’s only 300' high. Coming from “Les Dents de Lanfon,” you need to leave them at around 5100' high otherwise you will cross and arrive pretty low at “Le Roc des Bœufs.” But there are lots of fields over there!

“Le Roc des Bœufs” is half ridge and thermal winds mountain. You will get the lake breeze at the beginning, then thermals on its middle.

“Le Roc des Bœufs” is the beginning of new XC adventures. It can take you to another range of mountain call “Les Bauges” near Chambéry city.

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West Panorama (1080x252)

I have taken the following panorama from Planfait launch. So you have the west view of the lake. This long ridge in front of you is “Le Semnoz.” It starts in Annecy on its lowest side, rougly 300' only! The ridge on the right of the picture is the right side of “Le Veyrier” Mountain (area #3) on Map 1. You can see Annecy far away, where you want to catch good thermals in order to pass “Le Semnoz”! Obviously today, there are some good ones!

Once you’ve reached the summit of “Le Semnoz,” you can easily cross to area #5, “Le Roc des Bœufs.” Usually you’ll have the wind in your back. Coming from “Le Semnoz,” you’ll be directly on the middle of Le Roc des Bœufs. You will have no problem, flying its summit, and landing to Montmin LZ. We can easily imagine the crossing from “Les Dents de Lanfon” to “Le Roc de Bœufs.” You’ll be right in the middle of the lake and it’ll be magic. I guaranty it!! You will also fly in the lake breeze only where you’ll notice your glide ratio getting worst and worst. Will I make it to the very beginning of “Roc des Bœufs” is an inevitable question you’ll ask yourself. Like I said if your trip ends there, no worries! It’s full of fields!

If not, let’s fly this rock spine and get another 3000' high before a final landing.

Observe the little ridge on the left side of the beginning of “Roc des Bœufs.” There is a launch area there, just over Duingt community. It’s a 20 minute hike. When it’s too crowded on main launches like Planfait, I usually go there. Once I took 150', I fly toward “Roc des Bœufs,” fly to its summit, come back and cross toward “Les Dents de Lanfon,” area #2.

In fact there are lots of wild launch spots all over the 5 areas. I’ll show them to you when you come here.

Well, I am afraid I gave you too much information / frustration of this beautiful and magic spot. You understood that Annecy is more than one spot. It’s a combo.

In fact this area during summer time is just perfect. If you want to be outside practicing all kind of sports, it’s the place to be. From hiking to climbing, bicycling, swimming, flying, what else, skiing … you can do lots of things, it’s a whole package!

Flying period starts in April to September. May and June are the best, July and August are the most crowded months. People are coming from all over the world to fly this part of the planet. So, what are you waiting for?

Like I said before I left Oregon, I will remain your French connection if you come over. Once your trip is planned, let me know through that email: herve_garcia@hotmail.com

I’ll do my best to make your flights as easy as possible

Hope to hear from you soon.

Hervé