For me, one of the most enjoyable activities of all times is hiking. The part I enjoy the most is the hiking itself and not necessarily the highly adrenaline-generating activities that are trending now, such as rock climbing, super trekking or others. It’s more of a slow-paced exploration, perhaps more poetic, and always accompanied by the camera backpack.

That was the case the day I climbed the Puy du Dome in the French Massif Central. This is a lava dome, at about 1500m altitude, resulting from an eruption over 10,000 years ago. Although it is one of the most touristic destinations in France, I tried not to research it thoroughly before going in an attempt to avoid « taking away » the pleasure of exploring an unknown place. The place being very popular and modern-accessible did not have a physical or technical difficulty that required major preparations beforehand. So, in an early autumn day I started the climb on the road well paved by the many tourists of all kinds. Generally, the path was well hidden between two rows of rich vegetation, specific to volcanic soil, full of nutrients. Although autumn, the green was still tilting the balance in its favour, battling in a beauty contest the autumnal colour palette. But this vegetation prevents you from admiring the panorama. There were some places, however, in the curves of the route, from where you could see the fantastic wavy spectacle of the volcanic ranges and craters. The light, however, was quite unpleasant; so, on the way up, I just tried to keep in mind these places, thinking that when I’ll return probably the sun will be on the other side and I could take some interesting pictures.

In this way, without major difficulties, I reached the top. Being a touristic attraction and relatively easy to reach, it was also well organised in terms of tourism business. I found there a museum, an extremely interesting archaeological research centre and of course, some street-food stalls, where you could replenish your consumed calories with well-known products of our modern world.

But I also discovered something more natural, for which I had actually climbed up there: the stunning panoramic views of this geographical region. Here, the brown color was predominant compared to the green which below, was in advantage.

But the biggest surprise was when I found out that there is a famous launch site for paragliders. So, a good part of my time there was taking photos and videos with them, charging my own batteries with their energy and enthusiasm. From that moment on everything happened at a much faster pace so that the time for the return trip arrived. Therefore, we went back down the same road we have used for the ascent.

A man paragliding over a beautiful autumn evening landscape in the Volcanic Central Massif in France.

A bit tired, as it usually happens after such expeditions, I had almost forgotten to pay attention to the places with panoramic vistas. But at one point the image I’ve encountered was striking in the new light conditions. In front of me lay a veritable ocean of mountains. The colour of the evening turned everything towards a blue hue, as it is well known the photographic period of the day called « blue hours », just before it gets dark and immediately after the magical « golden hours ». It was a unique photo moment that lasted just…a moment. Those moments when « golden hours » transform and merge into « blue hours », mixing moods and colours as a painter would on his palette. In this way the mountains transformed themselves into a sea, and the light fog and the partial backlight effect generate some incredible images of this magic place. The highlight of this image was produced by the occurrence of a paraglider, in smooth flight, leaning into this unique landscape. And so, this image was created, an image that fills you with an energy capable of making you dream of peace, adventure and above all, freedom….the true freedom of a bird gently gliding over the ordinary world. True Freedom!