Zeppelin is latest way to see Paris
August 5, 2013 -- Updated 2153 GMT (0553 HKT)
The first passengers sailed the skies in the Airship Paris zeppelin's inaugural commercial flight on Sunday. The craft is about the size of an A380 superjumbo jet, but flies, 900 meters up, at a stately maximum speed of 90 kilometers per hour. Passengers paid at least €200 ($265) for a half-hour flight.
Where's the Eiffel Tower?
'Safest way to fly'
But where to dock it?
New shape in the skies
- Airship takes to skies around Paris for first time in 30 years
- Latest zeppelin is size of jumbo jet -- but a lot lighter and slower
- Tickets a little more expensive than most Paris tours ... make that a lot
- Non-flammable gas makes craft "safest way to fly"
(CNN) -- The sights of Paris are among the most familiar on the planet, but now tourists have a "new" way to see them -- by helium-filled airship.
Airship Paris's zeppelin -- 75 meters long, five stories high and as wide as a four-lane motorway -- made its inaugural commercial flight over a region of villages and woodland northwest of Paris on Sunday.
On clear days, the company says, the Eiffel Tower would be visible in the distance.
The Chateau de Versailles and Seine River are other sights to be seen on the airship's itineraries.
The German-made craft, the first commercial dirigible to fly over the Paris region in 30 years, according to Airship Paris, may have similar dimensions to an A380 superjumbo jet, but it's a little slower at maximum speed: 90 kilometers an hour, at a 900-meter altitude.
Tickets on the dirigible will be somewhat more expensive than other Paris tours, such as a seat on an open-top tour bus: prices start at just more than €200 ($265) for a half-hour flight.
The shadow of the Hindenburg disaster still hangs over airships, even though the hydrogen-fueled craft -- caught forever on spectacular newsreel footage -- exploded over a New Jersey airfield more than 75 years ago, in 1937.
Airship Paris is quick to emphasize the safety of its new zeppelin.
"This is probably the most safe aircraft [flying] because the gas inside is helium [which is] completely non-flammable," airship pilot Catherine Board, who is half-British and half-Belgian, told the Telegraph.
"If the engines fail, unlike an aircraft, which has to come down, [the airship] can float ... until we find a safe place to land."
Airship Paris hoped its zeppelin would become a familiar sight in the skies above France, not only for carrying downward-peering tourists, but for transporting cargo or for scientific missions.
However, one barrier to realizing those plans is simply the lack of existing infrastructure on the ground to cope with such a large aircraft.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Nonprofit Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the developing countries doing the most to promote human rights and preserve their environments.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT)
These waterfront watering holes have killer ocean views, creative drinks and the mahalo vibe we demand.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Can't wait to book your ticket to Indianapolis and Oakland? The venerable guidebook is right there with you
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0625 GMT (1425 HKT)
By helicopter, snowmobile and big-wheel truck across some of the world's most volatile landscapes.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 2142 GMT (0542 HKT)
Construction begins on a new Singapore airport complex that could make delays and layovers a pleasure.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT)
Inflight chatterboxes are annoying but they're not the worst violators of onboard etiquette, according to an Expedia study.
December 8, 2014 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
These statues are awe-inspiring even for the strongest of non-believers.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
25 years after the death of Romania's communist dictator, tourism is helping heal old wounds.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Photo sharing website names the top 10 destinations for geo-tagged snapshots.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
New York may be a paradise of Zagat-rated, Michelin-starred restaurants, but some of its best food can be found on the streets.
December 2, 2014 -- Updated 0601 GMT (1401 HKT)
Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana ups the eco stakes with what it claims is world's first battery-powered safari fleet.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
These quirky and beautiful subway stops make standing cheek-to-cheek with 45 strangers almost seem fun.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Luxury vintage Land Rover tours explore Bedouin backwaters without bashing up precious dunes.