Aveyron, here I come !

I had to do some handywork in the south of France, and just like last year, I opted to use the airplane to fly from Belgium to the Aveyron – of course … The Aveyron is a department squeezed in between the Lot and the Languedoc region. A beautiful area, not very well known amongst tourists, yet that’s what it makes it even more attractive.

The weather was perfect for this VFR flight. I took the classic route down via the east of Paris: Kortrijk – Cambrai – Reims – Troyes – Moulins – Clermont-Ferrand – Aurillac – Villefranche. I planned for a fuel stop in Aurillac in the Auvergne, and then onwards to Villefranche-de-Rouergue, my destination airfield. This was a solo flight.

Of course, I opted again for the venerable yet perfect Cessna 172 OO-WVS ! Take-off on a nice Friday morning, setting course towards Reims. And who says Reims, says champagne area ! The grapes were growing sweeter and sweeter in the season.

Champagne vines

I climbed to flight level 105: 10’500 feet, or more than 3 km high. Air was thin yet very breathable there. No traffic, smooth weather: perfect cruising.

10'500 ftLow pressure

After Reims, I set course further south, passing the airport of Vatry (LFOK), home to many Ryanair flights. All the while, French air traffic control again offered a perfect service !

Vatry

With the Central Massif nearing south of me and the Alps passing on my far left, I saw the Vichy airport (LFLV) passing under me.

Vichy

After Vichy I contacted Clermont-Ferrand approach, and I was cleared to pass their area. On my right, the Puy-de-Dôme was peaking into the hazy sky. Soon I found myself overflying the old vulcans of the Massif Central.

Puy de DômeLe Cantal

And amidst all the voilent display of terrain, the city of Aurillas is settled. The airport sits somewhat south on a flat area. Weather was CAVOK all the way, and soon I was cleared to landon runway 33. I do have a french Air Total fuel card and that serves me very well when having to top-up fuel in France. Almost all airports feature a Toatl fuel station, and so does Aurillac. I fueled up, paid the always moderate landings fees in the tower. Behind me a beautiful blue Pilatus PC-12 took off.

AurillacAurillac Tower

I setlled at 4500 feet, contacted Rodez Approach, avoided the Rodez TMA and overflew the beautiful Lot river into the north of the Aveyron departement. Peyrusse-le-Roc is a magical medieval place with an old ruin and a village being restored. Definetly worth a visit, but this time I just took a picture from the air.

Crossing teh Lot riverOverflying Peyrusse-le-Roc

After 20 minutes of flight, I approached the grass airport strip of Villefranche-de-Rouergue (LFCV). This aerodrome sits higher than the city itself, and the approach towards the upwards sloping runway is rather spectacular.

Aerodromde Villefrance de RouergueParked at Aerodrome Villlefranche de Rouergue

I parked the Cessna in the soft grass, blocked the wheels and let it sleep for the two days I wouldn’t use my flying machine anymore. I had booked a taxi to bring me, my gear and my food towards my destination.

Two days later, the weather hadn’t changed much. Maybe somewhat more hazy, but not in a disturbing matter. I had communicated with my friend who was in the Languedoc region near the airfield of Bédarieux (LFNX). I invited myself for lunch and planned a flight from Villefranche de Rouergue towards Bédarieux: from the Aveyron departement towards the Hérault departement.

This is how Villefranche de Rouergue looks like from the sky just after takeoff:

The City of Villefranche de Rouergue

It was a hazy but beautiful flight towards Bédarieux airfield:

Airport BédarieuxA couple of Cessnas

It was extremely funny to park my Cessna’s next to N6477V where I learned some IFR flying in years ago !

Lunch was perfect: talking about flying and many other things. But soon, time was pressing and I still needed to fly all the way back north, including a fuel stop ! The plan was to fly from Bédarieux to Mende, Clermont-Ferrand and Vichy for a fuel stop in Moulins.

South of Millau I passed the airport of Larzac (LFCM), and soon the majestic bridge of Millau came in full sight on my left:

Millau Larzac airportThe large bridge in Millau

After that I passed the well-known iron railway bridge of Garabit, designed by Eiffel – the same architect as the Paris tower:

The Eiffel bridge of Garabit

Next passage was the airport fo Clermont-Ferrand (LFLC) where an Air France flight was vectored to land under me.

Airport of Clermont Ferrand

After Clermont, I started my descend into Moulins. I kept as high as i could, and I heard a Piper on the radio behind me, trying to pass under me, but he ddin’t have enough speed in his wings to make it happen: I landed first 🙂 !

Airport of MoulinsTower of Moulins airport

A quick fuel stop and the traditional visit to the tower to pay the fees. I think I performed a textbook Ryanair turn-around ! I was pressured for time as I needed to arrive in Kortrijk before sundown.

Back into the air, I passed Chablis, known for its fantastically smooth white wines. And the grass airport of Epernay-Plivot, holding some promise for a future trip. I already know the theme: “Champagne Run” 🙂

Overflying the wine city of ChablisPlivot Epernay airport

During these flights, I succesfully experimented with listening to music while flying: by just squeezing my ipod earbuds into the earcups of my headset, I could listen to music, while still listening and talking to ATC ! A nice way to entertain yourself. These flights amounted to almost nett 10 hrs of flying !

At the end of the flight, I passed Lille airport, northbound across the border into Belgium. I landed happily in Kortrijk in the sun: another satisfying long flight performed safely !Base Kortrijk airport

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