The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France is a high-elevation paradise in summer. Situated on the southwestern slopes of the French Alps, this this idyllic, rural region of France is filled with colorful, patchwork fields, and gorgeous, tree-speckled mountains rising above them. Tiny, one-lane roads wind relentlessly from one village to the next, cutting Tour-de-France-style paths across terrain that modern road makers would find laughably unfit for pavement. Idyllic Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur Countryside — Photo courtesy of Omad
Anyone looking at a postcard from these rich green farmlands speckled with tiny villages would find it quite surprising to hear that this region is, in fact, a hot spot for extreme sports enthusiasts. Yet, it's true: located among the pastures and hay bales is the unassuming Gap-Tallard Airport–Europe's largest skydiving center.
Sky divers from across Europe and around the world travel to this exact region of France to skydive among its spectacular scenery. Teams of professional skydivers train special stunts here, jumping dozens of times in a single day. But it’s not just experienced skydivers who jump at Gap-Tallard; anyone in good health can jump with no prior experience. All you need is good health, some cash and an instructor who take you for a tandem jump.
Those wishing to try skydiving for their first time by tandem jumping–i.e. attached to an instructor–won’t have to wait long. As one of the busiest skydiving centers around, this airport is packed to the gills with willing instructors and spritely aircraft. Tiny planes run laps here, scooping up divers and whisking them up to the sky. Colorful parachutes can be seen all around, carrying people lackadaisically back to the ground like tufted dandelion seeds. Anyone Can Jump Tandem — Photo courtesy of zayzayem
If you’re new to skydiving, your experience at Gap-Tallard will begin with a short, instructional session that familiarizes you with the equipment you’ll be wearing, and the safety procedures of the jump. Using the fuselage of an actual plane, the lead instructor will show you your exact in-flight position, and describe the actual procedure of the jump.
As soon as the lesson is finished, it will be time to board the plane. After just a short time of very steep (and sometimes bumpy!) climbing, your plane will reach the appropriate altitude, and it will be time to jump. Before you know it, you’ll roll out of the plane, and will plummet through the upper reaches of the French atmosphere, falling faster and faster and faster. It will seem that you’re never going to stop - until finally your instructor pulls the parachute, and you’ll coast to the ground at a lazy rate.
If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Gap and have half an urge to skydive, call the Gap-Tallard Airport. You’ll need nothing more than cash and your everyday clothes to experience the greatest rush of your life.