To make my holiday on Reunion Island truly memorable, my friends have given me a paragliding taster flight above Saint-Leu.
Today I’m going to take to the sky under the wing of a paraglider. It’s time for my first flight, in the midst of breathtaking scenery! I’m meeting Eric, who will accompany me on this big jump. A consummate professional and several times champion of Reunion Island, he puts me at ease and fills me with confidence.
We head to Les Colimaçons, in Saint-Leu, a site recognised as one of the best spots in the world for paragliding. At 800 meters above sea level, like every day the special take-off area attracts its fair share of enthusiasts and beginners who are going to take to the air for the first time.
The panoramic view of the Indian Ocean is stunning. I can’t get enough of it, my eyes lost in the blue of the sea. Eric pulls me out of my reverie for a quick briefing. He has planned everything of course, including the small on-board camera.
After the usual checks, my instructor, to whom I am securely attached, gives the signal to set off. Go! ». We start running straight ahead in front on the grassy slope, towards the sea. The wing of the paraglider fills with wind, my feet lift off the ground. What an incredible sensation!
Playing with the updraughts
We rise up above the sugar cane fields, flying slowly towards the ocean. What calm, what silence, but above all what a view! Then Eric hands me the controls. No longer the passenger I become the pilot, turning to the right and then the left, by pulling on the lines. The goal is to remain in the air for as long as possible, by finding updraughts. To do that you just have to watch and follow the tropicbirds: these sea birds can fly for hours, without the slightest effort!
While I direct us, Eric points a finger to the sea: “A turtle!” ». I search for it and find it, swimming above the corals in the clear water of the lagoon. The beach which will be our landing strip gets closer. Eric no doubt wanting to check that I’m not faint hearted does a few stunts. All good things come to an end and we gently touch down in the sand of Saint-Leu. It takes me a few minutes to pull myself together. I think that with the images recorded by the instructor’s camera I’ll be dreaming about this for a while!