Full of Hot Air: Great Ballooning Adventures
Ballooning offers both spectacle and serenity, a celebration of color and an escape from the humdrum of everyday life. The late Malcolm Forbes cherished the tranquil magic of ballooning, popularizing the sport among princes and potentates. Not to mention that he created, with his millions, a whole new style of balloons beyond the boring bulb. But ballooning is not just for the rich and famous. A deluxe champagne flight almost anywhere in America runs $120-$170. And for those seeking the ultimate lighter-than-air experience, we feature some of the world's greatest ballooning adventures, from the Alps to the plains of Africa. Add one to your trip, or build an exclusive trip with high-flying at its heart.
France: Castles and Vineyards
Nothing epitomizes luxury ballooning better than a flying tour of the famed vineyards and chateaux of Burgundy. Such a trip is offered by the Bombard Society, an American company specializing in high-end package balloon holidays. From Paris, the TGV (Tres Grànde Vitesse) whisks you first-class to Burgundy. After visiting world-class vineyards, guests make their first balloon ascent, flying over medieval castles and a patchwork of vineyards. In the evening, pilots and passengers dine like royalty in the 14th-century vaulted chambers of Château Savigny-les-Beaune. In short, this trip defines first-class adventure travel.
On your second day, you visit the Patriarche family cellar, home to 10 million bottles, representing five centuries' vintage. A wine tasting precedes lunch with the Countess de Loisy at her country estate, Château Rochepot, a stunning cliff-top fortress. After touring the chateau, fire up your balloon to soar over the intricately patterned tile roof and the nearby Cote d'Or vineyards. The next day, you'll explore the 12th-century fortified city of Chateauneuf, then visit more vineyards, including Château Commarin (complete with 13th-century castle and moat), and Clos de Vougeot, your departure point for your final balloon flight over Burgundy. Your fourth day allows for free for further exploration of Beaune, a 14th-century walled city and ancient capital of Burgundy.
The ultimate ballooning experience comes with a lofty price tag: $6,000 per person. Contact The Bombard Society, (333 Pershing Way, West Palm Beach, FL 33401. 800.862.8537 or 561.837.6610. www.bonbardsociety.com
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication