another tour de france

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psk
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another tour de france

Post by psk » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:19 pm

Had a very pleasant long journey on May 27 and 28th from Fairoaks (EGTF) in the UK down to the Cote d'Azur in my new (to me) DA40. Took off on a Sunday afternoon with bad weather in central France planned to route around the weather along the western coast of France and then across the Mediterranean coast. Departed Fairoaks, routed east through Biggin Hill's overhead and then made the Channel crossing at Lydd, to land at Le Touquet (LFAT) for customs purposes (not many operating customs airports along the route open on Sunday without having notified them ahead of time, not that anyone actually checked me).
Then flew my longest leg yet, 300 NM, to the charming town of La Rochelle (LFBH) where I spent the night and had a nice meal in the scenic port. The following morning I set off for Montpellier Mediterranee (LFMT), along the way I dealt with a frazzled sounding French military ATC at Cognac that needed me to descend below 1500 feet if I wanted to pass through his area due to military exercises and broken radar ("I 'ave a lot of fast traffic"). After a bit of low flying I was able to get a bit of altitude and along this leg I passed overhead the tallest bridge in the world, the Viaduc de Millau and managed to get some nice photos with my iphone. Inbound to Montpellier had a bit of my confusion as Montpellier approach requested "what are your intentions?" while I was on a long final. I had filed a flightplan, had already been talking to them, had already accepted vectoring to accommodate commercial traffic, so I was quite confused, I'm pretty sure "I'd like to land" was not what they were looking for but it was all I had... I don't do a lot of operating at larger airports and haven't flown a lot in France… It turns out they were asking me which runway I was requesting; I didn't realize I had a choice, it was NOTAMed that the shorter runway (12R/30L) was unavailable to non-based aircraft. But their "shorter" runway was going to be plenty at 1100 meters long. There were a bunch of Diamonds at Montpellier, from based and nearby flight schools, including a couple that landed right after me.

Then I paid my landing fees, waited around for an hour or so for fuel, kicking myself that I hadn't completed all the paperwork for the Air Total card, because I could have used the self service pumps instead of waiting for the bowser. Departing Montpellier they routed me along the coast and let me climb up high pretty quickly once I was out of their zone. The views over the Camargue, Marseilles and Cassis were amazing. I then routed inland near Le Castellet and discovered some interesting thermals on my way to landing at Fayence (LFMF). Not sure the glider and ultralight pilots knew what to make of me there although there was a Cirrus there later in the week... but Cannes was not an option due to the film festival and grand prix at Monte Carlo both winding down.

The following week I repositioned to Cannes after a scenic flight around the pre-alps and Provence, with a landing at Le Castellet (LFMQ). Le Castellet was pretty cool, albeit a bit unusual as the airport is perched up at 1400 feet, with terrain descending down towards the sea to the SW and with some mountains N, W and E, you need to get your altitude correct. There were cars zipping around the adjacent racing circuit and the facility was very nice. I did afterwards realize that I had paid my all time highest price for avgas there, 2.81 euros/liter ($14.20/gallon).

My return to the UK a week or so later was good fun. I flew Cannes – Lyon Bron – Le Touquet – Fairoaks in a day, setting a new, new record with a 349 NM leg. It was quite bumpy through central France with bright sun and interesting clouds, with forecast for CBs later in the day after my flight.

Will try to upload some pics later.
Attachments
2013-05-27 14.30.12 (800x600).jpg
marseille
2013-05-27 14.28.27 (800x600).jpg
marseille
2013-05-27 14.21.30 (800x600).jpg
martigues
2013-05-27 13.28.25 (800x600).jpg
montpellier diamonds refueling
2013-05-27 12.11.43 (800x600).jpg
viaduc de millau from above
2013-05-27 12.09.57 (800x600).jpg
viaduc de millau
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psk
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Re: another tour de france

Post by psk » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:45 pm

two more pics
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2013-06-06 11.08.47 (800x600).jpg
mont ventoux on my return flight
2013-05-27 14.30.36 (800x600).jpg
the coast SE of Marseille
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Re: another tour de france

Post by Rick » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:01 pm

Great pictures, Patrick, and interesting story. Thanks for sharing!

Wow - $14.20/gal for avgas. Wow...
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Re: another tour de france

Post by wolfipilot » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:38 pm

Patrick -

great report, thanx! The places you name (LFAT, LFBH etc.) are indeed great spots when flying across France. Of course, me being used to the funny French ATC sound ('say edding' *lol), I smiled about your similar experiences, however, ATC is extremly friendly in France and supportive anyway, be it for VFR, be it for IFR.

€2,81 for the AVGAS is a hell of a money for just 1000 ml AVGAS, but still low with respect to what we will see in the next future I fear. I have paid more than 3€ lately, reason enough to switch to the A1-engines with Luxembourg Airport (ELLX) asking only for some €0,70 per liter!

Will be travlling to Scotland in July, hopefully I will be able to have a comparable good time as you had in France.

Cheers
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Re: another tour de france

Post by Jean » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:54 pm

Nice report Patrick.
We spent a night at La Rochelle too. Very nice place.
We also overflew Millau (still waiting for pictures shot by copilot :))
French ATC is very friendly indeed...and french speaking, which is ok for me !
AVGAS price at EBST is 2.91 €. It is 2.56 € at EBLG. AVGAS price is generally lower in France (2.08 in Cannes).
I also believe that future of GA is JET A1.
I will post more pictures of our tour.
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Re: another tour de france

Post by psk » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:30 pm

I certainly agree on how pleasant the ATC is in France. It was quite an eye opener being treated well and with respect after doing most of my early flying in the UK where they seem to regard GA traffic as a nuisance or they don't really offer much service... basic service :). It was great to get up into the flight levels while flying VFR.
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Re: another tour de france

Post by Jean » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:43 pm

I Agree with you Patrick.
If you check report 4172, you will notice they let us fly VFR LFMV DCT EBST at FL 080 on our way back from Menorca. They will also kindly give you airport actuals if you ask.
Could you post your flight logs in Reports ?
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Re: another tour de france

Post by psk » Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:11 pm

I'm in a 2003 pre-g1000, so not sure. I have logs from my garmin aera 795 which I have uploaded to skydemon, might be able to do something with them?
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Re: another tour de france

Post by Keith M » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:02 am

Nice trip report, Patrick.

I'm in Provence at the moment, at Avignon, although grounded because the Mistral has been blasting down the Rhone valley for the past few days. I was wondering how you transited all the restricted areas when you did your sightseeing excursion. Did you do it on a weekend, when the military aren't flying, or pick inactive times, or just go for it and ask ATC for transits?

Thanks,
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Re: another tour de france

Post by Jean » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:43 am

Yes, it was on a Sunday. We were just asked for a slight deviation to avoid Lyon St-Exupery CTR.
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