Jean‑Baptiste Chandelier, Sky Dancer

Born in Briançon, Jean-Baptiste Chandelier spends his days soaring like a bird over the wide-open spaces of the Southern Alps. A seasoned paraglider, his magnificent videos – always with a nod to his beloved Hautes-Alpes area – have earned him fame far and wide.

A childhood dream

You grew up in Briançon, an ideal playground for novices? 

« Yes, I grew up here and the area really does have a great flying potential. The winter paragliding sessions over the snow are truly unique. But it’s not necessarily the easiest place to start – there are other, more adapted spots in the Hautes-Alpes for beginners such as Ceillac in the Queyras area, Embrun, or even Serre-Chevalier. I’ve wanted to fly since I was little, so in parallel to my ski instructor training – which I never actually finished! – I prepped to become a paragliding instructor. I was only 18 when I started out, but the sport really grabbed me from the outset. »

A passion for travel and video

How did you come to make videos? 

« It happened completely by chance. A colleague of mine had a camera and I immediately felt comfortable with it and started producing pretty good footage. I loved the feeling of compiling and associating different images to tell a story. That’s how I started out, then I gradually managed to combine my two passions. Thanks to the videos, I can choose how I showcase paragliding and introduce people to my special world. Today, I’m very happy to be able to juggle with three hats: director, professional pilot and wing designer. »

The Hautes-Alpes, a privileged playground

You often film yourself in Alpine settings. Are they your favourites? Why? 

« The Hautes-Alpes have two huge assets: aesthetics and air quality. I’ve travelled a lot, but at the end of the day, this is the place I love most. There’s so much to discover here: Briançon Collegiate Church in the historic quarter, the fortifications and all the fabulously well-preserved buildings… The heritage here is rare and precious and I think a lot of people are amazed when they see it in my videos. The contrasts are astonishing too: you go from lavender fields to mountains peaks literally in a few minutes. It’s incredible. »

Between land and sky

You were an aerobatics pro before specializing in proximity flying? What’s the difference? Do you have any projects at the moment? 

« I loved the rush of aerobatics but I quickly realized I wasn’t getting a true sensation of flying from it. To me, the big differences between what I call the « Google Earth » mode tens of metres above the ground and proximity flying are the sensations and the sheer beauty of what’s before your eyes. When you glide 2 or 3 metres above the ground, you still have human points of reference but everything goes a lot faster – that’s when the real feeling of freedom happens! And especially, people who watch my videos can really project themselves. At the end of the day, my aim is happiness and never losing my childhood spirit, so I can continue to live my dreams. »

Successful landing!

Tips and advice for budding pilots

1/ A good spot to start?
Ceillac in the Queyras area

2/ A quality you need to succeed?
Perseverance

3/ A bad habit to avoid?
Having too many bad habits!

4/ Your main sources of inspiration ?
Danny MacAskill and Candide Thovex

5/ Your method for planning upcoming flights? 
I think about what I want to film, then I look for a site that meets all the criteria

6/ Your latest fave spot?
Cappadocia in Turkey

7/ Your favourite playground?
Embrun and the whole of the Hautes-Alpes – the more I travel, the more I realize how lucky I am to live here