Annonay-Rhône and hot-air balloons go back nearly 250 years. Let’s take a closer look at this passion for flight, which originated in the Ardèche region.

From aerostat to hot-air balloon

According to legend, it all began with a reflection on hot air in front of the chimney of a Montgolfier brother in … Spain! This led to the first successful experiment with an aerostat in 1782 in the Vidalon park on the banks of the River Deûme.

The first public flight took place in 1783 at the Place des Cordeliers in Annonay in front of the Estates of Vivarais*, before the most famous flight in front of the King in Paris.

Since that first experience, and with the 21st century just around the corner, Annonay has become the historic site of aerostation (classified in 2002 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics).

1783, the first aerostat in Annonay-Rhône

History of the Montgolfier brothers

A few dates taken from the chronology of aerospace history on the AIAA* website:

4 June 1783
The Montgolfier brothers’ balloon became the first unmanned balloon flight. The balloon was propelled by burning a pile of damp wool and old shoes

19 September 1783
The Montgolfier brothers attempt the second successful test of their hot-air balloon in Paris in front of King Louis XVI. This flight had passengers on board: a rooster, a duck and a sheep.

21 November 1783
Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier built a hot-air balloon that rose 84 feet (25 m) into the air with the first human aviators, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent. The balloon remained aloft for almost four minutes. 19 January 1784 – Joseph Montgolfier flies his invention for the first time with six other passengers.

Annonay and hot-air balloons

And today, what about balloons in the Annonay-Rhône catchment area?

Every year, theart of taking to the skies is showcased in the Parc Déomas on the anniversary date that marks more than two centuries of the history of ballooning and hot-air ballooning in the Annonay-Rône area.

As a sign of its deep roots in the Annonay-Rhône area, the annual air and hot-air balloon festival, held every first weekend in June, celebrates the art of taking to the skies, combining tradition and innovation, from historical re-enactments to demonstrations of the most advanced balloons, such as the Racer Chaize.

For the occasion, members of the Annonay Hot Air Balloon Association will be bringing back to life the flight of the first paper balloon on 4 June 1783. It was the start, in this Ardèche town, of the conquest of the air.

Today, this commemoration is a local tradition, bringing pilots from all over the world to the Ardèche in a festive atmosphere. It’s also a way of honouring the brothers Joseph and Etienne de Montgolfier, the inventors of these flying machines.

Festival L’art de l’envol, video presentation:

L’art de l’envol” in the Annonay-Rhône region also includes professionals and associations offering you the chance to discover hot-air ballooning and learn about the pleasures of flying from the two balloon launch sites, Parc Déomas and Château de Gourdan.

Annonay-Rhône is also home to a number of hot-air balloon service providers and user associations offering services ranging from balloon creation and repair to first flights and balloon trips.

Watch a video of a session in a hot-air balloon, from departure to landing, in pictures and music, in the Ardèche and in sensations, with the testimony of the sky navigators from Montgolfières et compagnie :

Going further in a hot-air balloon?


  • The States of Vivarais, Wikipedia (French)
  • Aerospace History Timeline, AIAA