A historic place
On January 7, 1785, the forest of Guînes was the landing point of the first Channel crossing by the aeronaut Jean-Pierre Blanchard and Dr. John Jeffries in a hot-air balloon (“ballon” in French). The Colonne Blanchard is the memorial built in their honor, on the exact spot of their landing and this historic moment gave its name to this specific part of the wood: the Bois de Ballon.
Hiking trail: Sentier du bois de Ballon
An undreamed achievement
Jean-Pierre Blanchard reached England in September 1784 with the mad hope to come back in France in a balloon. Four months later, the dream becomes reality. On January 7, 1785 in the early morning with a clear sky and a very cool temperature, against the opinion of sailors, Jean-Pierre Blanchard and Dr. Jeffries decided to take the height to join the French coasts. After a continuous loss of altitude resolved by throwing different objects overboard, at three o’clock, in a last leap, the highest of the journey, the balloon crosses the coast between the Caps Gris-Nez and Blanc-Nez. In a last gust of wind, the two aeronauts land as best as they can, without crashing, in the forest of Guînes. Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries have just carried out the first crossing of the Channel by air.
(Source : website of the city of Guînes)