Saturday, March 31, 2012

Visitors to Sablet

Our little village and the surrounding area receive many visitors throughout the year. This week, we had a return visit from a most unusual visitor, the Patrouille de France (PAF), the precision aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force.

The PAF was formed in 1931 and has been based in Salon-de-Provence about one hour south of Sablet since 1937. There are 8 jets in the Patrouille de France and the team did fly-overs several days this week. I never got my camera up fast enough to capture them when the full squadron of 8 jets were in formation. Maybe next time.

The PAF trains periodically in the sky over the Aerodrome of Plan-du-Dieu and the surrounding countryside causing a little excitement for us in the sky over Sablet from time to time. I guess the Sabletains see them often enough that they don't even look up when they are flying over.

The PAF currently fly Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets, a light attack jet and advanced training aircraft. Each aircraft is painted blue-white-red with the gun placement replaced with a smoke generator. During one of the training sessions this week, they did aerobatics and released red, white and blue smoke streams behind them.

They finish their fly-by with a loop over. We have seen them make hearts and paint the French flag in the sky on other occasions.

It is an interesting contrast to stand in the village with buildings dating back to medieval times when combatants fought with primitive weapons and then to see the fly-over by the PAF in their ultra-modern Alpha jets.

Maybe you will be lucky enough to catch the PAF training over the sky of Provence one day. Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.


  1. I would love to see them at play/work! We have a few single jets that zap over the top of us from the Bordeaux area. Trouble is once you hear them they are already out of sight!! Maybe one day I will get to one of the air shows. Keep well and enjoy the weather. Diane

  2. They fly over my house, too, maybe on the same loop :)

  3. Diane - Thank you. We are having fantastic weather. We enjoy the fly overs when they occur but like you there are times when they are gone before we can find them in the sky.

    Meredith - Given the geography they cover when they are doing their aerobatic maneuvers, it is entirely possible the same ones we see could be over your house too.

  4. Hi Michel! I've been shown where they are based by my cousin who lives near Salon - how exciting to see them performing in the air!

  5. Neat. Maybe they were practicing for the 14th of July. One of Alain's friends lives right across from the Salon airfield.

  6. Claudia - We have been treated to an aerial performance almost every time we are in Sablet. It never gets old for me.

    Megan - Shirley wondered if they were practicing for the 14th of July too.

  7. Nice shots. It must have been hard grabbing those since they fly by so fast. What a great free show. I love to watch airplanes and wish our little town could get a free show!

  8. Ashley - Thanks! No doubt you have to be quick to catch them and I missed them every time they were in a formation of all 8. There is a small base near Orange which is where I thought they were based since we see them so often in the sky. But come to find out, they just fly to this area from Salon de Provence to train.