lundi 28 mai 2012

French Countryside from the Air

Perfect weather. 26 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. I am at Bernay aerodrome about to take off in a 4 seater plane. I love flying but loathe large planes so it doesn't get much better than this. The runway is grass dotted with pot-holes. We call in to the club house for the necessary paperwork. An elderly gentleman reading the newspaper greets people as they arrive. It is only a small aeroclub and everyone is not only on first name basis but tutoyer's (informally address each other). A young girl of about 15 or 16 prepares for her flying lesson.
Château de Tily
Our plane is still in the hangar the pilot has to manually pull it out on to the bitumen area in front. After some preliminary checks it is time to finally squeeze into the cockpit next to the pilot. I am so excited that I feel the need to pinch myself. My heart is not racing with fear but with pleasure. My pilot points out châteaux after châteaux as we first head north towards Rouen. The Seine winds back over itself. We pass the forest and the cliffs that drop down to the narrow strip of land that borders the Seine as it takes its circuitous route out to sea. My heart skips a beat as I make out La Bouille, a wonderfully pictoresque village that I have visited. I can easily make out Pont Flaubert and the cathedral in Rouen where I studied with the Alliance Française.
La Bouille near Rouen
Dieppe and the neighbouring white cliffs
We fly over one landmark after another: Bec Hellouin, Jumieges, etc. We continue towards Dieppe and then along the coast with its white cliffs. What a sight glimmering in the sunlight. All to soon we head back inland. As far as I can see there are green fields interspersed with villages, châteaux and churches. I want this flight to never end. All too soon we approach the runway for a perfect landing. I feel extraordinarily privileged to have been able to partake in this experience of a lifetime.

4 commentaires:

  1. These photos are absolutely wonderful. What a great experience and what chance to have such a clear, beautiful day. I once did the Dordogne in a hot air balloon and that was great...this is even better.

    1. I am trying to decide about whether to do hot air ballooning here in Paris - or perhaps a helicopter ride.

  2. The photos are beautiful and what an unforgettable experience!

    1. Thanks for the comment about the photos. I was actually quite disappointed about the photos. The experience was definitely unforgettable. It was perfect weather as well. Very, very fortunate.


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