Why is champagne offered after a hot air balloon ride?

You may have noticed than an array of hot air balloon ride providers will offer a hot air ballooning experience that features a champagne reception upon landing. Doubtless, the experience of flying in a hot air balloon is a special one, even for experienced balloonists; marking the event with a glass of fizz upon landing makes the event feel even more magical. However, did you know that, more than simply a lovely way to round off a hot air ballooning adventure, the gifting of champagne is an intrinsic aspect of contemporary hot air ballooning history and culture?

A centuries-long tradition

The traditional association between hot air ballooning and champagne quaffing emerged in the late 19th century, when hot air balloon flight was beginning to gain momentum. The first successful flight of a hot air balloon took place in Paris, France in November 1783. The flight was piloted by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, a physics and chemistry teacher, and François Laurent d’Arlandes, a soldier, and lasted 25 minutes. The friends flew a Montgolfier balloon; these early successes put France firmly on the map when it came to hot air ballooning aviation techniques.

Met with suspicion

As ballooning increased in popularity, more and more enthusiasts took to the skies to explore this form of aeronautical travel. In this era, hot air ballooning remained a pastime for the elites in France. For ordinary men and women, hot air ballooning was not a phenomenon that that they were particularly aware of. As a result, for many, these balloons in the sky were disconcerting. It was hard to understand what they were doing, or what they were for, so they were met with suspicion, especially by local farmers who would be unhappy that a balloon might have landed on and damaged their crops.

Champagne diplomacy

History has it that balloonists took to carrying a bottle of champagne with them to offer as a peace offering to any local people who may have been concerned about what the balloons flying overhead were up to. Champagne would go on to become the drink of choice in the home of hot air ballooning.

The tradition has since spread more broadly, and champagne flights are offered in locations across the globe. We offer hot air balloon flights over Bath, Bristol and the south west, and even we find that champagne is the perfect way to make a special occasion even more luxurious.