Provence: Hot Air Balloons! (Vol en Montgolfière)

When Wil and I planned a trip to Europe, there were so many things to be excited about. Somehow, I got it stuck in my head that I really wanted to take a hot air balloon ride – in Provence – over lavender fields. I spent a good 4 months building up my expectations about this little excursion. I didn’t even know if we booked the ride that went over lavender fields (we didn’t) but that’s all I could talk about.

It’s probably a good thing I was sooooo excited because it was likely the only reason Wil was so cooperative with everything that was asked of him that day.

Montgolfiere-Hot Air Balloon-1
floating over Provençal fields at daybreak

What exactly did he have to do? Well, our call time was at 5:30 AM and we were staying in Aix-en-Provence 90 minutes away. This meant waking up at 3:30AM to get out on time. Wil is not a morning person. I made sure to get fresh croissants and fruit the night before so that he wouldn’t get hangry on me. Crisis averted, or so I thought. We were out of the apartment on time but spent 20 minutes figuring out how to pay in the parking garage.

I was freaking out, there was no way I would miss this. So I proceeded to drive as fast as possible (30km over the speed limit putting me at 170km/hr!) and actually made it to our meeting spot at 5:35AM. Amazing, right? WRONG. As we’re pulling up, I see a bus pulling out, so like the crazy-lady that I am, I swerved in front of the bus to block it, then ran out yelling in English for them to wait. Everyone was staring at me of course.

So we follow the bus to the field and somehow I get cut off by another bus. I try to overtake the bus that cut me off so I could see where my tour bus was going and it refuses to let me in. Things get a little dicey, let’s just say I had a near miss with oncoming traffic only to realize that the offending bus was carrying other hot air balloon passengers. At this point, I’m so irritable and embarrassed I just want to go home. Not a good start to our glorious adventure in the sky. Let’s not even talk about Wil, staring at me the whole time like he has no clue who he has just planned to spend the rest of his life with.

Montgolfiere-Hot Air Balloon-2
Walking through these beautiful misty fields was so ominous but beautiful at the same time

Anyway, we finally make it to the field, I apologize to the bus driver, and everyone just chalks it up to my being a crazy American lady. The pilot and crew speak almost entirely in French and when they find out we’re actually Canadian they warm up a little, aside from judging us for being Canadian and speaking so little French.

Aside from the crazy, manic start of our day, it was such an experience. Being thousands of feet above ground really quiets all of the background noise we’re so used to hearing on a daily basis. Quite a different and calming perspective on the world below.


Leave a Reply