Hot-air balloons at Chambley air-base © Wikig – licence [CC BY-SA 3
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Last Updated: 3 March 2020


The Lorraine Mondial Air Balloons is Europe’s largest hot-air balloons festival and takes place in an airfield situated between Nancy and Metz.

The hot-air balloons festival of the Lorraine Mondial Air Balloons

Hot-air balloons at Chambley air-base © Wikig – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Hot-air balloons at Chambley air-base © Wikig – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Every two years, Europe’s largest gathering of hot-air balloons takes place at the Chambley airfield in the département of Meurthe-et-Moselle in Lorraine.

In 2017, the ten-day rally is running from the 21st to the 30th July and features a spectacular air show of helicopters, kites, gliders, planes and, of course, hot air balloons with two flights each day (weather permitting).

The event was created in 1989 by Phillipe Buron Pilâtre and shares similarities with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta which takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

In 2011, the festival gathered a record of 343 hot-air balloons on the Chambley airbase which is becoming a European leader in aviation. The Chambley airfield is located in the heart of the Natural Regional Park of Lorraine (between Verdun, Metz and Nancy).

The 2013 edition of the “Lorraine Mondial Air Ballons” edition has broken all records. Despite the unfavorable weather conditions (rain and storm), between 363 and 373 hot-air balloons took off above the countryside of Lorraine on Sunday, 28 July. The event was eventually mentioned in the next Guinness Book of Records.

In 2015, the Mondial Air Ballons festival broke another record with the simultaneous take off of 433 balloons.

In 2017, more than 400,000 are expected with 1000 balloons piloted by 3000 people in total, many of them (70%) coming from outside France (Australia, America, England, Germany, etc).

USAirforce aircrafts at Chambley, Lorraine
USAirforce aircrafts at Chambley, Lorraine

In 1951, 486 hectares of fields in the commune of Chambley-Bussières were transformed by NATO into an airbase at a time when the Soviet Union threatened Western Europe.

The airbase became operational in 1956 when it was turned over to the United States Air Force. When President Charles de Gaulle announced that France would withdraw from NATO ‘s integrated military structure in 1966, the USAF left Chambley on the 1st April 1967. The Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) took over the airbase for a few years before it was developed into a non-military business park. As the runway and taxiways are still intact, it is still used for festivals and other events such as the Lorraine Mondial Air Ballons.

First hot-air balloon journey in October 1793 in Paris
First hot-air balloon journey in October 1793 in Paris

The first hot-air balloon was created by brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, a little French town in the Ardèche. The hot-air-balloon of the Montgolfier brothers was publicly revealed on the 4th June 1783 when the balloon flew for 10 minutes.

On the 19th September 1783, an untethered flight with a duck, a rooster and a sheep as passengers was launched at the Palace of Versailles in front of King Louis XVI and a large crowd. After a three-minute flight, the animals were found alive – the sheep was even quietly grazing.

The first tethered balloon flight with man took place in October 1783 by Etienne Montgolfier in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris. On the 21st November 1783, the first untethered flight with Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier as passenger took place in front of the Dauphin at the Chateau de la Muette (now the headquarters of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation [OEEC] in the 16th arrondissement). The flight took 28 minutes across Paris reaching an altitude of 1000 metres.

For more information about the hot-air-balloons festival in Lorraine, visit A shuttle bus operates from the railway station of Pagny-sur-Moselle every day at 4pm which is situated between Nancy and Metz with frequent train services.

Hot-air balloons festival: English-French Vocabulary

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin and (v) for verbs

  • airbase = base aérienne (f)
  • airfield = terrain d’aviation (m)
  • aviation = aviation (f)
  • business park = parc d’affaires (m)
  • event = événement (m)
  • integrated military structure of NATO = structure militaire intégrée de l’OTAN (f)
  • festival = festival (m)
  • gathering = rencontre (f)
  • glider = planeur (m)
  • helicopter = hélicoptère (m)
  • hot-air-balloon = montgolfière (f)
  • hot-air balloons festival = festival de montgolfières (m)
  • kite = cerf-volant (m)
  • NATO = OTAN (f)
  • Natural Regional Park = Parc Naturel Régional (m)
  • New Mexico = Nouveau-Mexique (m)
  • OEEC (Organisation for European Economic Co-operation = Organisation européenne de coopération économique (OCDE)
  • plane = avion (m)
  • railway station = gate ferroviaire (f)
  • runway = piste (f)
  • shuttle = navette (f)
  • Soviet Union = Union Soviétique (f)
  • take-off = envol (m)
  • to take place = avoir lieu (v)
  • taxiway = voie de circulation (f)
  • to threaten = menacer (v)
  • United States of America = États-Unis d’Amérique (m)
  • Western Europe = Europe de l’Ouest (f)
  • to withdraw = retirer (v)


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About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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