IMG_8571-c-Ju-on-the-Road.jpgVue d'une montgolfière au dessus de la réserve naturelle du Haut Geer
©Ju On The Road
I tested it for you

A hot-air balloon flight

In August 2020, I had the chance to take my first hot-air balloon ride and discover the Hesbaye region from above.

Wondercom 7Wondercom 7
©Wondercom 7
Justine Toussaint


Ju on the road

My hot-air balloon flight

or the testimony of an amazed

This is it, the big day! The morning of my hot-air balloon flight, I receive a text message confirming the flight at the end of the day… It will indeed take place at sunset! After all, flights depend entirely on weather conditions. Don’t worry, when flights are cancelled, they’re immediately rescheduled. The message also tells me the take-off site chosen by the pilot… This is chosen according to wind direction, to avoid the airspace around the nuclear power plant and Bierset airport, which are off-limits to hot-air balloons.

Great, the balloon takes off from a site I particularly love in Terres-de-Meuse, the Haut-Geer Nature Reserve. Beautiful scenery and an unusual adventure in the air in prospect, I’m looking forward to it!”

Arriving at 7pm at the site, we meet the group, the pilot and his team and receive a short briefing on the course of the flight and safety. The field is wide and clear, with no obstacles to impede the two hot-air balloons. A few explanations later, the group is invited to head for the gondolas. Excitement grips me… It’s time for inflation!

Balloon inflation

The Montgolfière.b team takes out all the equipment: balloon, basket, burner, fan…. Then a real ritual begins during the inflation phase, and everyone is invited to join in. First you have to unroll the canvas, then inflate it with the fan.

There’s a relaxed but extremely professional atmosphere, I feel that Montgolfiè, these are good guys, you can trust them.

Benoit, the pilot, even offers me a chance to enter the canvas during inflation, an incredible sight and I have a front-row seat! I struggle to hold back my oh’s and ah’s in order to concentrate on taking photos, but I have to admit I’m impressed.

We decole

Suddenly, everything accelerates. It’s time to climb into the basket as the sun takes up position behind us. It’s scorching hot in there, with the burner blowing hot air into the balloon, I’m even afraid for my hair.

That’s it, we’re taking off…. Smoothly. I’m surprised by the gondola’s stability, no rocking and no feeling of vertigo to declare!

The Hesbaye from the air

An hour's ride on the wind

And then there we are, in the air, free. The sensations are very gentle. Only the noise of the burner disturbs the calm of this beautiful late day. The lights are magical. We soar over the basins of the Upper Geer Nature Reserve.

On board, Thierry, our passionate Natagora nature guide, explains how the reserve works and its role in preserving local wildlife, insects and birds. It’s very impressive to fly over the ponds, the landscapes and even the wind turbines! I don’t have the words to say how beautiful what I’m seeing is.

The wind takes us in the direction of the Limburg orchards, and allows us to discover breathtaking hesbion landscapes. Nature from above is sublime. Beneath my feet are fields, crops, rivers, woods and Hesbion villages… And people waving to us from their gardens.

Although the pilot can’t control the direction of the balloon, he can still manage the basket’s altitude. So Benoit enjoys flying low to the ground for a few moments. A field of wheat tickles the basket, we even skim over trees, before climbing back up high. Much higher than I could have imagined, but I don’t feel any fear. Rather, a kind of plenitude in the face of this fabulous spectacle.

The landing

A one-hour flight in total peace and quiet goes by very quickly. A few minutes before landing, Benoit explains the procedure. Don’t panic, it’s quite simple, just crouch down and hold on to the basket handles… He does the rest!”

We land gently and silently in a field, where the Montgolfiè team joins us with the vehicles and storage equipment. Oh, it’s over already? We step out of the basket one by one, smiling as we gaze for a moment at the balloon as it gradually deflates…

The sun has almost set, and it’s time to fold up the balloon. We’re all invited to help the team with the folding, in good spirits. A complete experience, rounded off by a little drink of local produce to recover from our emotions, with Leopold 7 beer (with or without alcohol).

A little surprise before taking the shuttle back to the take-off site…
But I won’t say any more about it!”

A magical experience to be had at least once in your life, a suspended and sweet moment, a real breath of fresh air.