Drone Flying Experience in the French Pyrenees
As soon as we visited Manzac Gite for the first time in May 2017, we knew we had to make this one of our drone-flying holiday destinations. After sell-out trips in 2017 and 2018, 2019 we are back for more in 2020 (also sold out).
Situated in the Ariège Region, mid-way between Toulouse to the North and the French Pyrenees to the South, this is a gorgeous, unspoilt, hilly and green part of France. Ten years ago, Giles and Louise left their roles in the Army (Giles) and as a journalist for the Financial Times (Louise), sold up in the UK, and bought the huge, rambling, run-down set of buildings that today is Manzac Gite. Over the next several years, they turned it into a very special place to come and stay. Today the Gite has lots of original features, multiple living areas, roaring fires, and the most magnificent views towards the Pyrenees. The Gite is at the top of a tiny road, set in spacious grounds, with a swimming pool, fire pit and boules area, as well as a table tennis table in the studio. There is ample space to fly and film with your drone right from the back door of the Gite.
The Ariège region was one of the wealthiest parts of Europe in the middle ages. That wealth is visible in the many beautiful buildings, churches and squares in the picturesque villages we will be travelling through each day, and the ruined castles and bridges that we will film with our drones.
At a Glance
- Day 1
Arrive by 2pm at Toulouse Airport to be collected by Giles and Simon in our comfortable air-conditioned minibus. Make the one hour drive to Manzac, where there is time to settle in, get your bearings, and have a first flight in the grounds of the Gite before an excellent three-course dinner expertly prepared using only the freshest local ingredients by Louise.
- Day 2
We start with the ruined Cather Castle at Roque Fixade. Traditional photographers must make a stiff one-hour climb up the mountain to photograph it. We set up at the foot of the mountain, and let our drones do the hard work. Lunch is in a local restaurant, before we head to the magical Lac Bechmale. Surrounded on three sides by mountains, the colour of the water is the deepest blue imaginable.
- Day 3
In the morning we go in search of waterfalls, and cascades as the snowmelt pours off the mountains. With our drones, we can capture images and video unlike anything you could take with a traditional camera. After a delicious lunch back at the Gite, we are out again to film the Etaing de Lers. An “Apocalypse Now” video as the drone skims across the lake before climbing up and over the small island studded with trees in the middle of it is a particular favourite here.
- Day 4
Rest day. Enjoy a lie-in, before reviewing photographs and video, and comparing them with your companions. Lunch in the Gite, in the garden if the weather is warm. Participate in an Intelligent Flight Mode masterclass with Simon in the grounds of the Gite in the afternoon, or take a stroll into the surrounding countryside to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the landscape.
- Day 5
In the morning, we visit the Pont de Diable. A semi-ruined castellated medieval bridge in a steep-sided valley. There is a 15 minute walk down to the bridge, and a 15 minute walk back up afterwards. There are great shots to be taken from above the bridge, impossible except with a drone. Will anyone dare to fly under the bridge? Answer – almost certainly yes. Giles prepares barbecued local sausages and salad for a picnic lunch, followed by barbecued bananas with cream and honey. Delicious! In the afternoon, we visit the enormous cave entrance at Mas d’Azil. Care must be taken to ensure there are enough satellites to maintain GPS lock – that is what Simon is here for.
- Day 6
Up early to drive an hour to a tiny mountain hamlet. Largely deserted at this time of year, the houses and barns make great features to photograph and video, with the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees in the distance. Giles brings a wonderful breakfast and plenty of piping hot coffee, which we enjoy as others fly, capturing the sun rising over the mountains.
- Day 7
Return to Toulouse Airport for 11am to catch our flights home to the UK. Or rent a car and go and explore the ancient walled city of Carcassonne, and enjoy more of the fabulous South West French cuisine along the way.
Images of the French Pyrenees
Staying at Manzac Gite for 6 nights from 5th – 11th May 2020.
- Single occupancy
- Full board except for two lunches in restaurants
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