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.
Part of complete coverage on
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0556 GMT (1356 HKT)
From Maastricht to Melbourne, these itineraries make bookish travelers look stylish.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Good cocktails combine with spectacular views across rivers, cityscapes and oceans at these bird-level drinkeries.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0226 GMT (1026 HKT)
Cinema loves portraying the lives of expats. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes it casts Nick Nolte as a jungle king.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Don't be intimidated, says a local expert. Here's how to do China without the hassles
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
When your city has an unenviable reputation for insulting tourists and fleecing them for every cent, inviting hotel guests to pay what they want could be a risky move.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0710 GMT (1510 HKT)
With factory tours and collections of stunning vintage prototypes, southern Germany is petrolhead paradise.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
Every tourist destination has a flip side, a season when prices go down and savvy, flexible travelers can score big savings.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT)
Morocco's Red City is crammed with stunning gardens, shaded souks and steamy bath houses.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
Pristine beaches, unspoiled nature and few tourists -- a stretch on these former penal colonies is no longer a punishment.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0923 GMT (1723 HKT)
Life in Joburg can be stressful. Luckily there are some exceedingly non-stressful places close by.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
CNN's Ivan Watson pays homage to the city he's called home for the past 12 years.
China notches up another superlative achievement as a Nanjing-based artist creates the world's largest and longest anamorphic painting.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
In what is undoubtedly the world's "coolest" surf video, photographer Chris Burkhard endures freezing temperatures, blizzards and injury to capture Arctic waves and their riders.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0339 GMT (1139 HKT)
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one that travels between London and New York. It is the world's busiest route and there are few lengths airlines won't go to in the hopes of getting a piece of the action.
Today's five most popular stories