Why Professional Paraglider Antoine Girard Never Travel Without His Paraglider

Do you want to fly with the birds and get a completely different perspective of the world? Then you need to get into paragliding!

Few people know more about paragliding than professional paraglider Antoine Girard and in this interview, he shares all about his wonderful world in the skies.

Read on and learn how Antoine got into paragliding and how he balances his training with normal life. You will also learn Antoine’s best paragliding tips and tricks, his favorite gear – and why he never travel without his paraglider!

Paraglider Antoine Girard

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Antoine Girard, I’m an adventurer/professional paraglider and part-time teacher at Grenoble Alps University. I live in France near the Alps.

I practice the majority of sports outdoors and especially those that allow me to go further in my adventures! I love all the outdoors hobbies, from swimming with friends to extreme sports.

How and why did you get into paragliding?

I practiced a multitude of sport in club or in leisure but in my favorites I practiced climbing with world cup circuit. I naturally switched to mountaineering with some attempts on high peaks such as the K2, Broad Peak, etc.

I started paragliding for the sole purpose of getting back down more easily from the mountains. I learned paragliding to do a take off from summit of Broad Peak (8051m), I failed but I flew from 7200m. Slowly I lowered the mountain to make more and more paragliding. I continue practicing a lot of sport to keep fit, I train an average of 20 to 30 hours a week. But these are more a hobbies than training!

Paragllider Antoine Girard

Why is paragliding important for you?

The paragliding made me change my vision of the sport, I realized that one can go from a point A to a point B far away. In one flight, it’s possible to travel several hundred kilometers. So I added trek to paragliding to allow me to travel without any motorized means. For example, I traveled 1200km in New Zealand in twenty days, 1250km in Pakistan in the Himalayas in 18 days, etc.

Since then I don’t want to travel without my paraglider.

Paragllider Antoine Girard

What have been the best and most difficult parts of paragliding?

Paragliding is just fun! Discover new spaces, new regions, fly among birds and enjoy time and space. The scenery is always beautiful from the sky! As soon as I’m in sky I forget all the rest.

There are difficulties related to the sport and especially the weather, the strong wind, rain, storms, etc. The weather sometimes changes so quickly that we are quickly in danger. We are like a leaf dead in the wind. The danger can quickly happen we have to be all the time vigilant.

In adventures or races, we often come to the end of power, the only thing that allows us to continue and put one foot in front of the other is the mental. I do things for myself and not for a result or recognition, it’s a fight against me.

The biggest difficulty for practicing my sport is the financial side, the distant expedition is expensive. I sometimes spend time before a new project because I wait to have the funding. It’s a sport of devoted, it’s necessary to don’t do this to earn a living!

Paragllider Antoine Girard

How do you eat and sleep?

I don’t really have a specific diet, I try to eat all year round healthy and balanced food, very little animal or vegetable fat and little meat but different kinds of protein. Most of my diet comes from my vegetable garden. I’m a great sleeper when I can, it would take me eight hours of sleep per night to be in great shape! But it’s difficult to find them I am rather at 6:30/7 hours per night. In expedition or race, it’s not uncommon to sleep only 3 to 4 hours per night for 15 to 20 days.

I train all the time with climbing, running, mountain, biking, etc. I sometimes train specifically for an expedition or a race but what makes the difference is the training of everyday life.

How do you handle injuries and recovery?

I admit that I had never any injury up to 32 years old, the notion of injury is new to me. Now I suffer a lot of tendinitis especially on the knees. I rarely stop more than 15 to 20 days because by experience there is little or no improvement after this time. I just try to not solicit too much the injury by doing the adapted sport, all this is decided by my doctor. Then when the competition or expedition comes, I bite the bullet until the end. It has worked all the time so far.

For the first time I’m get hurt, I have the cruciate ligaments and the external ligament of the knee that are broken. I have to undergo surgery. For the moment, this doesn’t prevent me from working the upper body and going out but quietly.

Paraglider Antoine Girard

What is your best advice people new to paragliding?

You have to start the sport at your level! You have to take pleasure before you force. How many began to run and stops after three days because it’s too hard. No, you have to start by doing it in beautiful scenery and it’s not bad to walk half the time. Naturally, let the body progress at its own pace. It’s not possible to do sports if there is no pleasure. Then take it!

How do you prepare for events/races?

Whether for a competition or an expedition the biggest job is happening on the computer. Everything is calculated in advance, map analysis, potential take-off search, analysis of winds, breezes etc. Then when it’s possible it’s good to go check the information on the ground.

How do you finance your sport?

I try to finance my sport with sponsors but I don’t have enough so I work half-time as a teacher at university. I make sure not to spend money with competitions and expeditions. I try to collect amount money of an expedition before leaving but most of the time I leave before and it’s the sale of the images (film, pics, conference, article, etc.) that allows me to balance the accounts. When the expedition goes wrong I often lose money.

My annual budget is around € 40,000, the biggest expense is the equipment.

Paraglider Antoine Girard

How do you balance normal life with training?

I have a life of sport devoted, I work 50 hours a week between training, logistical preparation, communication and new partners. I must add my work as a teacher at these hours. Similarly, I’m on average four months a year in expedition or competition often abroad.

I don’t have a family yet.

I take every year a month of rest, just a little work on the computer and only the activities that make me happy without pressure of result, I do that often with buddies.

What has been your best sport purchase below $100, and what other favorite gear do you have?

My first second-hand bike! It allowed me to leave the city when I wanted, I became autonomous. When you are 12 years old, the autonomy has no price. I could be in outdoor when I wanted!

My favorite equipment is my ultra light paraglider set, Gin GTO2 X-Alps wing and Kolibri PRO harness from Kortel. With these 4.1kg for the set I can fly several hundred kilometers in no time! I feel free like the air. Just take your backpack for a few days in autonomy, add those 4kg and the world belongs to you!

Paraglider Antoine Girard

What will the future bring?

There is so much to do! I have many projects, I just wait the possibility to do it. In first, it will be mainly to combine extreme mountaineering and paragliding. I have some ideas that are very innovative in this area.

Follow Antoine on his website and Facebook


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