Paris: the city of balloon pioneers

Last weekend I visited my sister, my big gem who is living in Paris. While we were visiting the Tuileries garden I stopped under a tree to take shelter in its shadow. That was the only way I had to be away just for a minute of the exhausting heat that was invading me at that moment. I started looking around, and the surprise was that just in front of where I was standing and drinking the remaining hot water I had in a bottle I discovered the following commemorative stone/plaque:


I always believed that French people are great explaining their history and also they make a great effort to try to remember it. The most part of their country is a reflection of a people proud of their culture. That’s very impressive for me and also admirable.

Once I arrived back home I started to realize how important the place I was standing up looking at a one of a kind piece of history. On December 1, 1783 A.C. Charles and Marie-Noël Robert launched the first manned hydrogen balloon flying a total distance covering 36 km from Tuileries garden in Paris to Nesles-la-Vallée. It was a 380-cubic-metre hydrogen-filled balloon and the crew ascended to a height of about 500 m above the sea level. They managed/operated the balloon with a hydrogen release valve and the balloon was covered with a net by which the basket was suspended. They also carried a barometer and a thermometer to measure the pressure and temperature of the air, making this not only the first manned hydrogen balloon flight but also the first balloon flight to provide meteorological measurements of the atmosphere above the Earth’s surface. The most amazing fact about this world class event was that it’s reported they had more than 400.000 spectators for a “close up-view” of the take off including Benjamin Franklin himself!. They also had a crew of chasers on horseback led by the Duke de Chartres.

For placing this launch into the history I only would say that the first untethered and manned hot-air balloon was designed by Montgolfier brothers and took off from the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, on November 21, 1783 preceding by for a few days the launch of the “premier grand balloon a hydrogene” by the pioneers A.C. Charles and Marie-Noël Robert.


Illustration of the first manned hydrogen balloon flight. Source: Wikipedia.


The first manned hot-air balloon. Source: Wikipedia.

I also would like to recommend a visit to the Musée des arts et métiers, a museum of technological innovation. It is worth a visit, at least in their gardens you will enjoy an unforgettable spacewalk aboard the International Space Station:


Visiting this museum you will have a unique chance to follow in the footsteps of inventors and pioneers of progress and explore scientific and technical knowledge in depth. An amazing museum away from the most crowded spots in Paris during summer.