Air traffic noise over rural France?

We have purchased a remote property to renovate high on the Millevaches Plateau in Limousin. One of our essential criteria in our search was peace and quiet…which is actually pretty difficult to find in rural France, if you are used to Scottish Highlands levels of remoteness and quiet. I guess one person’s perception of complete peace is quiet is different to someone elses.

We purchased a caravan last month and have recently spent several days and nights at our property. I have to admit I have been dismayed by the seemingly around the clock air traffic noise and frequency of flights. It doesn’t seem to be faint and far off but lower altitude? I know there is an airport at Brive and another at Clermont, but I didn’t think these were major concerns. I cannot figure out if it is military aircraft or commercial airliners?

I have looked at the website ‘Flightradar24’ and as far as I can see there is not that much commercial air traffic flying directly over the Plateau Millevaches. I believe that there is a French website where you can get information on military aircraft activity? Does anyone know this?

We have a rental property in Chamberet (about 21 kms as the crow flies from our renovation property). Chamberet is on the edge of the Plateau Millevaches and although we get air traffic it often seems much higher up and certainly not as frequent as at our new place.

The weird thing about the air traffic at our new property (Bonnefond commune, 19) is that you can rarely see it, but it is pretty loud.

Bit disappointed If I am honest! I am hoping it is just temporary military aircraft activity.

Hi Paul
Glad you’ve finally found somewhere permanent. There’s been a bit of low altitude military flight activity recently - a couple of Rafales came screaming over earlier. I quite like to see them occasionally. Very rare to see anything but high altitude commercial flights here.

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There is another post about this on SF.
We have frequent jets almost buzzing the house at times.
They come from the French Army Air Base at Dijon and come in twos.
They use a large we can see hill as a way point.

I saw your place advertised for sale…looks as fantastic as I remember it. Are you leaving France or moving elsewhere. The air traffic noise at our new place has been really horrendous the last few days…I can’t figure out if it is military or commercial. Have rarely seen a plane…but hear them as if they are close. Had a couple of military jets go over two days ago, only seemed a few hundred feet off the ground. Made me bloody jump!!

Hi Jane. I am not sure this is military aircraft? We can hear lots of air traffic but even with clear skies I haven’t been able to spot anything? I don’t know if commercial flights at 39,000 feet would be that audible.

Flight Radar does not track many military flights.
I find Globe ADSB Exchange is far more useful.

For example, it tracks the (very noisy) Pilatus PC-21 training flights that happen daily from Cognac and range widely over the South west.

Among other manoeuvres, they practice dog fighting between 10000 and 15000 feet - the most from that can easily spoil your morning coffee from 20km away.

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Thanks Brian. I will check it out. We are more central France than south west I think.

Let’s hope you avoid the Cognac noise, Paul!

Of course, there may be another training base in your neck of the woods - but I hope not!

You don’t say whether the aircraft are jets or propellered ?

FlightRadar24 is pretty poor at tracking low flying privately owned or hired turboprop aircraft in our experience as we check frequently. We have them come over or near the house at pretty much all times of the day, although there are clearly some regulars.

Do you have any small aircraft airfields near you ?

Since the pandemic, we have seen a marked increase in private, small aircraft flights, both jet and turboprop - clearly some businesses/wealthy people felt they still had to get from one place to another more distant place without the hassle of the confinement rules.

Various other users of “invisible” flights might be : customs, tax, and police authorities. FlightRadar24 can only show what each government specifically allows it to display. For example, in southern Italy, one can track coastguard flights, but these are seemingly invisible in France.

For further reading, in French, on how aircraft owners can request blocking of ADB-S information and display, see this article.

Where I live, near Saintes in Charente Maritime (17), there is quite a large airfield but one that is used only by a gliding club, speedy noisy buzzing little airplanes in competition, and I think the Air Cadets who have to jog around it to get fit.

I enjoy watching the gliders being pulled up and let go at height, other small planes aimlessly buzzing around, and rarely a couple of fighters that ferociously speed by so noisily and so low.

But I miss the huge prop plane that flies by so slowly, appearing almost to brush the treetops – the plane that young cadet parachutists jump out of over the airfield. Too old maybe.

Great to watch, relaxing, looking up into the blue sky at these activities. At the buzzards as well.

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At the moment I am typing you have an Airbus Super Beluga overhead at about 32000 ft, heading to Toulouse. Not very noisy and great to look at if it’s not too cloudy.

Well the Covid pandemic and various lockdowns did mean quiet skies, so I guess that was a positive. Business as usual now. Personally, I cannot get my head around why so much flying is carrying on regardless, given the potentially catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. I don’t hold out much hope for COP 26. We don’t fly anywhere.

I have that too over the Lot just South of you. Bl**dy annoying it is too.
It’s either training flights - or sales flights by France’s aerospace industry which is also military.

Hence the flash young men screaming the Rafales for all they’re worth, rolling them, screaming towards hills or towers on hills. Then at the last minute full throttle flying vertically to pull it out… Or all but stalling it in a dive. Or even engine off in a dive then all burners whoosh!! back on again at 4,000 feet heaving the plane up vertically huge noise. After all you’ve got to test what you’re buying haven’t you?

On quiet days or last few weeks, evenings, just have a race and see on full burners boom!! how long it takes you to pass from one side of the sky to the other. Boom!! often 2 of them.

It is so very bad this year. There’s always been a bit of it, but it started getting quite bad and intrusive last summer. I’d say it’s split between sales activity with foreign military testing, for some reason I’m thinking Middle East, and French airforce training activity.

I for one am heartily sick of it. Even though I draw comfort from the fact that the French air force clearly has a better budget than the British one :slight_smile: But at least I’m not the other poster here on the path from Mont St Marsan getting woken night after night at 2am and 3am by military aircraft a couple of hundred feet over her house clearly using it as a marker / turning / pretend diving point.

I wish there was someone to complain to even though I’m towards the edge of it unlike a number here. But I rather suspect the military, the defense (offence) sector and aerospace generally is untouchable in France.

If this was Central Paris with that going on in the air over it, they would be told to do it over the sea or in the desert pretty sharpish. Instead South Central and South West France seem to be France’s version of aerial Salisbury Plains.

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You probably suffer from the Pilatus training flights too then. Generally flying in pairs, the turboprops combine the worst kind of jet engine noise with the worst kind of propeller noise. As they are typically practising combat manoeuvres, they are frequently at full throttle and very noisy.

I did visit the mairie to sound out the possibilities for a complaint, and was spoken to (at length) by M. Le Maire about the necessity for the training and the esteem in which the air force was held.

Oh well …


We get an equal measure of the turboprops and the full fighter jets, but only in decent whether.

Had the Securité Civile flying boats come over on Tuesday, flying towards Agen.

Compared to India 99 for NE London being based just behind our London home and hence flying over most nights as we were also close the A406/M11 junction with City Airport 5 miles down the road AND being under the Eastern stacking area for LHR, 30 seconds of noise every couple of days here seems like paradise.

These planes are an absolute marvel. I’ve seen them several times close up at Blagnac next to the Airbus factory in Toulouse. I’ll be there again week after next and will keep my eyes peeled. If you’re ever at Toulouse Blagnac airport, look across the runway and you’ll see the Airbus delivery centre. There’s usually several brand new planes parked up ready for customer delivery.
Edit: If you look on google maps satellite view, you’ll see 4 belugas directly opposite the airport terminal building on the other side of the airport.

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The phrase sacred cow (military and especially aerospace) came to mind. You got the reaction I expected Brian.

It’s not 30 seconds though. Far, far from it.

And I used to live under the flight path to Heathrow at Kew!

I love those sweet dolphin-like Belugas. I specifically look across the airport for them every time I head to the gates in Toulouse.

Apparently AirBus uses them to ship aircraft parts around. Their shape makes them look as though they shouldn’t be able to fly.


They were designed specifically to ship aircraft parts around including whole wings and fuselage sections. The current Beluga XL is based on the Airbus A330. The nose of the aircraft hinges for loading and unloading.