What is paragliding ?
Flying high over the valley.. paragliding is a smooth and contemplative activity. During a tandem flight, you’ll be suspended in the air in a harness with your pilot seated behind you. A large, near-rectangular shaped parachute suspends you in the air. The take-off is gentle jog down an alpine pasture; rest assured, no throwing yourself from cliffs involved!
The sport was born in the village of Mieussy, just 20km from Samoëns. In 1978, members of the Para-club of Annemasse, parachutists, decide to attempt using their parachutes to take off from a mountain rather than an aeroplane and they chose the summit of Perthuiset, located in Mieussy.
For the first test flight, the pilot was able to take off, however he immediately landed just a few metres further down the slope. A second pilot gave it a try immediately afterwards and was able to land in the valley, on the football field of Mieussy.
This historic flight was the birth of a new discipline called “para-pente“. The name stems from the French word “pente“, which means “slope” in French. (As opposed to para-chute, where “chute” means “to fall” and refers to the free-fall from an aeroplane).
Initially, the activity was only attempted by experienced parachutists, however access to training gradually opened up to non-parachutists.
Who can try paragliding ?
Contrary to what you might expect, paragliding is open to adults and children from as young as 4 years of age ! There are no particular requirements in order to try a tandem paragliding flight, although if you have an injury or illness we do recommend letting your pilot know in advance.
Paragliding (also known as parapenting) as a sport is neither dangerous nor frightening. While we commonly refer to a “paragliding jump”, this term is inaccurate as there is no jumping involved. The take-off is a gentle – you simply run 20 or 30 metres down a sloping alpine pasture, allowing the wing to be inflated by the wind and to gently lift you off the ground.
This downhill run is very short and accessible to everyone (even those lacking fitness). You’ll jog a few metres until your feet are no longer touching the ground. You’ll then shuffle backwards in your harness into a comfortable, seated position. Our pilots recommend that you do not try to sit too early, but keep running until they say stop; even when you feel that your are off the ground !
The weight of the passenger is an important factor in scheduling the timing of a flight. Children and lightweight adults are typically scheduled to fly in the morning, when the thermal updrafts are softer and there is very little turbulence. Heavier passengers (above 80kg) are typically scheduled to fly in the afternoon, when the thermal updrafts are stronger. These stronger updrafts enable a more powerful take-off and guarantee a better flight duration for heavyweights.
And what about vertigo? Without direct contact with the ground and without the constant presence of visual cues in space, it is physiologically and psychologically impossible to feel vertigo. If you usually feel frightened when walking a bridge or when looking down on a ladder, rest assured that while paragliding (after a little understandable fear at the moment of take-off!), you’re more likely to feel the sensation of height much like looking out the window of an aeroplane. Feelings of dizziness, sickness or fear should melt away as you take in the stupendous views.
Parapenting with ZigZag – how does it work?
All the pilots at ZigZag are fully certified and have decades of experience, with thousands of flights under their belts. As usual, each ZigZag expert is selected for his or her expertise, experience and personal manner. You can rest assured you’ll be in the safest of hands.
For your tandem flight, you’ll need to wear enclosed shoes that will not fall from your feet. A wind-stopper and sunglasses are recommended for your comfort. We recommend wearing clothes adapted for the slightly cooler temperatures you can expect to experience while in the air at altitude. The rest of the equipment will be provided to you by your pilot.
For the flight itself, you do not need any particular ability or experience. Your pilot will help you overcome any apprehension you might experence at the moment of take-off and will give you a few tips to enable a smooth flight together. Rest assured, he’ll then take charge of everything so you can sit back and enjoy the views! If you’d like to try steering during the flight, ask your pilot and he’ll let you have a go when conditions are calm and smooth.
You’ll need to allow one hour for a tandem parapent flight, from collection time to landing. Our pilots will collect you from the village and drive you up to the take-off zone at Samoens 1600m. You’ll then be equipped with a harness in tandem with your pilot and you’ll take off together. The landing zone is behind the swimming pool (near the Bois aux Dames leisure centre). You canbook your flight directly at the office ZigZag or you can contact us to discover the different options :
A video of you in flight!
Our pilots will film your flight, capturing every facial expression and recording it for the enjoyment of your family and friends! A fabulous souvenir of your holiday here in Samoens.
The ZigZag team is available all summer to give you further details and help you realise the flight of your dreams. So get ready to take off this summer ! And if you are looking to fill up with adventures, discover all the activities offered by ZigZag here.
We do recommend booking your flight in advance during peak holiday periods when demand is very high. To book your paragliding experience in Samoens simply contact us at the ZigZag booking office by telephone on +33631204410 or via the button below.