Jaillan Yehia isn’t an adventure traveller. So what the hell is she doing on a double-zip line flying over the French Alps at 100km an hour?
All I can think about is the girl on the fairground ride whose hair got caught in the mechanism.
While being strapped into a harness and encouraged to lean over an Alpine cliff-edge 1828m up, I am categorically told to keep my arms by my side but, suddenly, halfway along my high-speed 1,200m cable ride, I become paranoid that my long hair will get tangled in the runner system.
I spend the rest of the ride trying to work out which is more likely to kill me – my own flyaway hair or deviating from the recommended flight position, which I don’t dare to attempt, especially as I’m convinced any extra movement will result in the loss of a flip flop.
It takes two chair lift rides to reach the Fantasticable, a zip line at Pré-la-Joux in France’s famous Portes Du Soleil (Gates of the sun) region. The flight down is also a two-stage process, albeit a lot faster.
The second cable offers an even longer ride of 1325m, giving you a good few minutes to enjoy the view as you swoop over lush fields and the mountain village of Plaine-Dranse.
So, just like those people who spend hours trying to chicken-out of their bungee then want to do it all over again, I’m delighted to get another crack at the whip, the second with my hair firmly tied up in as neat a bun as I can manage with shaky adrenaline-fuelled hands.
Despite an innate distrust of the French which comes in-built to we Brits, I know this ultra-fast zip line is safe and scientific because I’ve been weighed to ensure the correct balance is set at the ‘breaking station’ at the end of the ride, meaning I come to a stop in the right place at the right time.
And I certainly feel reassured by the particularly geeky ensemble of helmet, apron and metal tray that makes up the outfit. If I look this bad it’s got to be for good reason.
To reach the Fantasticable I’ve criss-crossed the border between France and Switzerland. We’re sandwiched between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc in terrain most tourists see covered in a blanket of perfect white powder from the fast-moving vantage point of their skis or snowboards.
But as a winter sports novice even the gently-paced chair life ride up here has me gripping the bars, despite having my boyfriend – and today my fellow zip-liner – for company.
I’m not saying I’m a total girl but my heart beats pretty damn fast when I get to the top of the average waterslide, so you can imagine the Olympic-level somersaults my ticker is doing when my life is placed in the hands of a suspiciously laissez-faire French girl, who bids me to ‘ave a nice flight as I’m launched horizontally and head first into the mountain scenery.
These are the same mountains I usually visit in summer to indulge in sedate local pastimes like eating Abondance cheese and endless baguettes and going for walks in the verdant, manicured scenery, all blooming flowers and wooden chalets, my peace shattered only by the tinkling of cowbells.
So it’s disconcerting yet totally magical to see this chocolate box scenery and hear this bovine percussion from a bird’s eye view. By the time I screech to a halt on the second leg of my superman-style journey I’m thrilled that I’ve done something so adventurous and I realise it was actually a proverbial walk in the park.
I’m no longer scared – my worries about tangled hair or losing a flip flop have melted away and I’m just about ready to be jump on the chair lift to do it all over again.
My Fantasticable Zip Line Videos
The Take Off
Fantasticable has locations in Portugal, Italy and Canada and three in France, including the one at Chatel described above.
Flights cost €34
For more information and seasonal opening timetable see the Fantasticable website or the Chatel area website
About The Guest Blogger
Jaillan Yehia aka Savoir There is a London-based travel writer, editor and blogger who is obsessed with stylish, quirky and cultured travel. You can usually find her eating and drinking her way around the world, but every so often her adventurous side sneaks out and makes her try water skiing in Cyprus, zip lining in the Alps or reverse bungees in Bali. She scares easy so doesn’t combine the eating with the adventure, although a stiff drink has been known to help.