A Frenchman who escaped from prison by helicopter in 2001 and organised a similar breakout in 2003 has used the same method to escape jail again.
Pascal Payet was helped to escape from Grasse jail by four masked accomplices who hijacked a helicopter from Cannes airport earlier on Saturday.
A convicted killer, Payet was serving 30 years when he made his first escape.
While on the run in 2003 he helped three inmates escape Luynes prison and was later jailed for seven more years.
In this latest escape the helicopter hijackers landed on the roof of one of the prison buildings, AFP reported.
Payet and his team then flew to the Mediterranean coast, landing at Brignoles 38 km (24 miles) north-east of Toulon, where they released the pilot unharmed and fled.