I wanted a special activity, a little out of everyday life… Come on, I'll take you up in the air for a discovery flight by plane from Villefranche de Rouergue.

To realize this childhood dream, I contacted Rouergue flying club, located at Graves castle aerodrome, in Villefranche de Rouergue. Its members are all enthusiasts and, among them, was a certain Danielle. Arranging, smiling and relaxed, she welcomed us very pleasantly on one of those mild late summer afternoons.

I have never flown, so when in doubt I prefer to inform our pilot “Everything will be fine, our small planes are safe and the weather is fine, a little bit of air today, but nothing too bad” Perfect, here she goes to look for our plane.

Graves aerodrome, Villefranche de Rouergue

On track !

We sit inside, my companion takes the two-seater bench seat in the back and I sit next to Danielle.

We put on our helmets to be able to communicate during the flight. Our pilot closes the cockpit and starts the engine! Here we are quietly rolling on the ground of the airfield : I didn't imagine the “airplane ride” like that! More seriously, Danielle makes contact by radio with the local controller, we are going to position ourselves at the starting point of the runway: takeoff is imminent!

“Piste and surroundings free, you can go there” our pilot at his green light, here we go! She pushes a few buttons, pulls on the stick and the plane takes off, we pick up speed and then we're in the air… The runway narrows, the clouds seem to be getting closer, the houses are very small.

Before boarding, Danielle had asked us if we had a preference for our 30-minute flight in the air: working at Najac for a few years already, I would have liked to contemplate it from the sky, that's what we will do.

Leaving Villefranche by the west and heading south, we will first have the chance to admire the Cistercian abbey of Loc Dieu et its superb park.

Abbey of Loc Dieu seen from the sky
Abbey of Loc Dieu

A religious site since the 100th century, which became the residence of a local family in the XNUMXth century, this abbey and its park are all the more impressive from the sky. You can even see the observation tower at the end of the park, XNUMX steps and yet very tiny seen from here.

We continue our journey towards the south, we fly over the causse and we see some fields which are either cultivated or in pasture for the animals, moreover small white dots are reminiscent of sheep!

A quick glance at the speedometer: 200 km/h. Indeed we left 10 minutes ago and we already see very well Najac.

A sensational view of Najac

What show ! You can see the village so well, castral village, once fortified on all sides and described as an exceptional defensive site. From the top of its rocky outcrop which extends over 1.5 km, the Aveyron encloses it by the base in its meander, the block of schist on which the village is established making it turn away from its course so calm and slender of usual. It thus offers some rapids which encourage a few canoes/kayaks to explore it…

The houses on the ridge, the place du faubourg where the tourism office, rue du barriou: everything can be seen in a reduced model! The fortress, it remains impressive, even seen from the heights. The expert eye of some enthusiasts of the site would even guess the 6.80 m loopholes that flank the dungeon. I even observe a group listening to a guide!

And then there, the superb Church of Saint John the Evangelist appears: first gothic church of Rouergue. Its 45 meters in length are easily contemplated and its massiveness also. Impressive in every way.

Here we go again for a ride, we fly over the Château du Pic, the VVF, the hills of Najac where my hiking boots have already taken me well and still the Aveyron in its gorges, with the small Saint Blaise Roman bridge, it is so beautiful. I have chills!

Return to the bastide town of Villefranche de Rouergue

It's time to go back, we go back on the same side as on the way out, guessing the stone quarry of Monteils, the village of Vailhourles or the bell tower of Sanvensa on the other side of the gorges of the Aveyron.

For fun, our pilot offers us two tours above Villefranche-de-Rouergue: the grid of the country house can be admired and the porch bell tower of the collegiate church, from the top of its 58 meters, is truly breathtaking. We pass the Calvary, one of the most beautiful viewpoints over the city but also the Chartreuse Saint-Sauveur and Chapel of the Black Penitents, the cloister of one remains immense and the roof of the other dazzling.

Comes the time to land, the runway widens and the wheels of our small plane touch the ground, here we are back on earth.

It is still under the spell that we descend from this little flying cocoon, maybe we will fly again with one of these days...


About Clemence

Originally from the Pyrenees, I arrived in the region by chance. I found in the Bastides and Gorges of Aveyron a wild and heritage region that made me stay. To be able to walk both in narrow gorges which
reminds me of my mountains or on airy causses is what I like the most! Although the local cuisine also interests me, farçous, spit cakes, aligot: even a vegetarian finds happiness...
Every day for work I cross the centuries over my guided tours: you never get bored in West Aveyron!

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