Taking Flight

We are clutching the sides of a tall basket, into which the whole AIMEE LACALLE team has climbed. Above us, a giant nylon balloon, bright blue and emblazoned with a red bird, lifts us slowly into the cloudless sky. We are in a hot air balloon, or “montgolfière” in French, and soon we are hundreds of feet above the Dordogne Valley.

From here, the views of the Dordogne Valley take our breath away. We fly over the “Land of a Thousand Châteaux,” spying Beynac, Castelnaud, and Les Milandes, among others, their courtyards and architectural details illuminated through this new perspective.

We can hardly begin to count the shades of green shimmering in the forests and meadows beneath us. When our basket dips down over the Vézère River, we glide as if by magic along the rippling current, reveling in the open-air flight.

Patrick Bécheau of Périgord Dordogne Montgolfières, based out of the village of Saint-Cyprien, is our guide. He offers one-hour hot air balloon rides, longer dawn flights culminating in a picnic breakfast, evening flights ending with a drink, and even flights accompanied by a local historian.

It’s the perfect way to bask in the gifts of the Dordogne—not just stunning landscapes and medieval structures, but time to pause and reflect on a different view of life.>