By the powers vested in us, we at Radio Free Daglan have declared today, Thursday, March 1, to be the official start of the 2012 Tourist Season in the Greater Daglan Area, the GDA. And we have sound reasoning behind this decision.
This afternoon my wife Jan and I had driven to neighbouring Cénac to wash my wife’s car. When we arrived at the car wash, both bays were occupied, and it looked like we were facing a bit of a wait. So we decided to drive through the village and stop at Le Pauly, a bar/café on one of Cénac’s busiest corners. Since the day was beautiful, we figured this would be a chance to sit outside on the terrace and have our coffees, and then return to the car wash.
And there, up in the sky, were two hot air balloons — or montgolfières, as they are known in French. Here they are:
This activity is quite popular with visitors to the Dordogne, and there are several hot air balloon flight centres in our area. (Now that I’ve encountered these beasties several times, up close, I’m still surprised at two things — how huge they are, and how much noise they make when the gas burners are firing up to blow hot air into the balloon. They only seem quiet when they’re floating very high above you.)
Here’s one of the two balloons as it begins to float over us at Le Pauly:
The way I figure it, if the weather is nice enough to get people up into a hot air balloon, it’s nice enough for the tourists to start arriving.
For your interest, France is considered the home of hot air ballooning. On November 21, 1783, the world’s first untethered flight by a hot air balloon took place in Paris, using a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers (hence the name montgolfière for the actual balloon). That was 228 years ago!
As I was researching this, by the way, I came across a website promoting a festival for montgolfières in the Canadian province of Québec, in the Gatineau region near the national capital of Ottawa. So, Canadian readers of Radio Free Daglan may want to check out the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, taking place from August 31 to September 3. For the rest of you, just come to the GDA.