Traveling to and Flying in France

Some of these commentaries and accounts of my slope flying over the past several years in France may be useful for temporary visitors living in France, or someone doing business there on a regular basis.

Directions to Menez Hom

For anyone coming from the east, Paris, Chatres, Le Mans, Rennes, St. Brieuc, Morlaix, Landavisiau, Sizun, Chateaulin, are the cities that you will bypass, then finally take the direction for Crozon.  This is your route to Menez-Hom.  From Paris this is just under 400 miles.  From Germany, it is over 700 miles.

For those of you coming from England, take the Plymouth to Roscoff ferry. It is about a six hour crossing.  From Roscoff go to Landavisiau, Sizun, Chateaulin, then finally take the direction for Crozon, if you are going to Menez-Hom. At this 1000 foot, 360 degree hill, you will have the best chance of meeting other slope flyers.This is the most famous slope in France. Summer light lasts until 11:00 PM, so plenty of time for flying. The most dynamic side with the best lift on this hill is the north side. As you approach the coast, you will find very few trees: they have all been uprooted by the ferocious winds in this region.

Directions to Pointe Annalousten, Coastal Road, and Beg an Fry

During this last trip, I found that the area between the villages of Le Diben and Locquirec offered better flying (Northeast of Morlaix), than the Menez-Hom hill.  However, there were no other modelers there.  The coastal road (D79) east of Plougasnous to Beg Gracia was perfect for any north wind, from NE to even NNW.  Beg an Fry, a little further on, was one of the best, if not the best place anywhere that I have ever flown.  Here, anything from, N to SE was possible.  This is also a very good spot for Dynamic Soaring.  Look for the small blue signs indicating the way from the coast road to Beg an FryPointe Annalousten is on the east side of Le Diben off of road D46. Again follow the small blue signs to the bunker at the dead end.

One other note of caution about going to Brittany: weather is a big factor that is very tricky in this area.  You might want to go for a two day shot to this area, only to find rain and fog.  One annoying feature of the area is the super fine drizzle, called crachin that is so common.  Look out the window to what seems to be an overcast day, walk outside to only to feel a wet mist on your glasses or face.  Long dry spells are unusual, and off and on rain is very common in this area: hence the thick foliage of Gorse and other low ground hugging plants.  The trip in March looked doomed for the first six days, but then almost perfect weather for the next three weeks.

As far as maps go, I use (and prefer) IGN maps, which can be obtained from any bookstore in France, or for a little less, at Leclerc, the Wal-Mart of France.  Also very good is the program by Microsoft, Autoroutes 2001, if you are dragging along a laptop.

If any of you are interested in flying in this area of France, let me know and I’ll help you as much as I can with advice about getting there as well as where to go.  There are lots of things to do in Brittany, even when you are not sloping.

If you are going overseas to Europe for the first time ever, I would strongly discourage anyone from doing this alone. If you think that you will visit these places using a EuroRail pass, dragging along luggage, and airplanes, you are crazy. Get a car, dude! Some of these commentaries and accounts of my slope flying last March may be useful for temporary visitors living in France, or someone doing business there on a regular basis.

Driving in and around Paris can be daunting, to say the least.  Reading a map and trying thread your way through the insane belt line Autoroute (aka the Peripherique) around Paris is asking for an accident.  Once you are in open country on the Autoroute, driving is a piece of cake.  Just stay in the right lane, unless you are passing. Then there is the hurdle of culture shock for those who do not speak any language other than English, the change of food, time zones, etc.  Europe is a complicated place.

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