Main Menu Transportation
Where to Stay Sightseeing

Ballon de Paris

Parc Andre Citroën Sightseeing Balloon


ABOVE: The Ballon de Paris sightseeing balloon is reflected in a glass building next to the Parc André Citroën. INSET BELOW: The tethered helium balloon carries passengers to an altitude of 150 meters or about 500 feet.

By Durant Imboden

photoBalloon rides aren't just a luxury for well-heeled sightseeers. In Paris, the Ballon de Paris offers 10-minute rides to an altitude of 150 meters, or about 500 feet, for only 12 euros.

 (That's for an adult ticket; children from 3 to 11 pay half, and kids under 3 years of age are free.)

The balloon is at the Parc André Citroën in the 15th arrondissement, on the left bank of the Seine within leisurely walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.

It's a tethered or captive gas balloon, making it a spiritual descendant of "l'Entreprenant" ("The Enterprising"), a hydrogen balloon that the French Army used as the world's first aerial military observation post in 1794.

Balloon Air de Paris in Andre Citroen ParkCaptive sightseeing balloons have a long and honorable tradition: From 1884 to 1899, the Frenchman Louis Godard operated captive balloons around the world, from Paris to Chicago to Buenos Aires.

In Paris alone, one ballon did 1564 ascents over Trocadero and carried 19,194 passengers over a 161-day period; later, in 1895. another of M. Godard's balloons operated for 110 days at the Champ de Mars (near what is now the site of the Eiffel Tower).

The present-day tethered Parisian balloon began service in 1999, when an insurance company sponsored the balloon and offered free rides to Parisian children during pre-Millennium celebrations.

The balloon then went into storage for several years until it acquired a sponsor. It was relaunched as the Eutelsat Balloon in 2004; more recently, it was renamed "Ballon de Paris" and is currently sponsored by Generali France.

Things you should know:

Where and when to come:

Balard Metro stationThe Ballon de Paris is in the Parc André Citroën, a few blocks from the Balard station on the Paris Métro.

(Take the Métro in the direction of Balard, which is at the end of Line 8.) Signs will direct you to the park.

RER station at Boulevard VictorIf you're coming from the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d'Orsay, St-Michel, or other neighborhoods on the Seine, take RER Line C along the Left Bank toward Versailles Rive Gauche or St-Quentin-en Yveline and get off at the Boulevard Victor-Pont  RER station. The park is hard to miss--just look for the balloon.

The balloon normally offers 10-minute rides from 9 a.m. until 30 minutes before the park closes, but the schedule sometimes changes, and rides may be cancelled for a day or two at a time because of windy weather.

(For aerodynamic reasons, the balloon's capacity drops as the wind increases, and rides are cancelled when anticipated winds or gusts exceed 35 km/h or about 20 mph.)

For up-to-the-minute visitor information, check ballondeparis.com or call 01 44 26 20 00. Also see page 2 of this article for more photos and advice.

 Next page: More balloon photos

In this article:
Ballon de Paris
More Balloon Photos

Also see:
Paris Sightseeing Index

Booking.com banner
Main Menu Transportation
Where to Stay Sightseeing