Mountains, machines and matelots! A fantastic French Section Meeting in Evian-les-Bains

The French Section kicked off the September series of IFFR European fly-ins this year, at Evian-les-Bains, on the shores of Lake Geneva. And what an amazing weekend of IFFR Fellowship we had.

Perfect sunshine the length and breadth of Europe resulted in 11 aircraft flying in to Annemasse airport from the UK, Switzerland, Spain and France in time for lunch on Thursday 7 September. A pretty airport, nestling in the foothills of the Alps, just south of the main Geneva airport.

After lunch at the airport, we were taken by coach along the shores of Lake Geneva to our hotel at Evian-les-Bains. Check in complete, there was time for a quick guided tour of the town which included a visit to the original Evian water source. The water takes 15 years to percolate through the earth and rocks from the countryside high above the town to the springs from whence it emerges. Dinner that night was at the restaurant adjoining the hotel.

Friday saw us taking a short coach ride to visit the Chateau de Ripaille in the morning for a guided tour,

After the tour, there was of course time to taste the wine grown and made in the chateau grounds. Then on to have lunch in the beautiful old lakefront town of Yvoire a delicious meal of fish freshly caught in the lake!

And then a change of tempo, with an afternoon visit to the massive Evian water bottling plant on the outskirts of the town. It was amazing to see the huge, totally automated production line – and a plant complete with many robots taking suppliers to the various machines.

Saturday was our mountains and lakes day. Heading off by coach after an early breakfast, we were soon making our way into the high Alps, with breathtaking views all around us. We saw waterfalls and mountains in the morning and the local cheese making farm in the afternoon, with Mt Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, in the background. And of course, we heard the bells around the cows necks tinkling away as they chewed on the lush green grass.

Listen and watch the beauty of the mountains

The final evening was spent on Lake Geneva with a dinner cruise on La Savoie sailing ship. This was a boat originally made for transporting stone, now transformed by volunteers into a truly beautiful sailing ship. As we made our way slowly down the lake, the sun set and the lights started to twinkle – on one side of the lake in French homes and on the other side of the lake in Swiss homes.

Sunday, and return flights home came all too soon. For those of us heading north, with the ridge of 5,000’+ hills to the north of the lake, it meant climbing out of Annemasse along the lake to clear Geneva airspace and then climb to a safe height. The beautiful scenery meant that was no hardship!

A great weekend, full of bonhomie. And we understand that next year, in 2024, the French section will be celebrating a very special anniversary. We are looking forward to it!

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