08/01/2014 | by Nina Zietman
Route: Paisey Nancroix to La Plagne. Funnily enough it’s a journey with no discernable increase in altitude. The cable is virtually horizontal.
Height: The mid section reaches a dizzying height of 380 metres – the highest lifted point from the ground in Europe.
Age: The ‘Express opened in 2004.
What happens? Although the drop as the cable car spans the valley is an absolute whopper, you’re only over the highest point for a few seconds. It’s actually a ravine, and for the rest of the trip you’re a safe-ish 150m above the rocks. OK, we realise that sounds stupid but basically this isn’t the world’s sketchiest lift, so it feels fine.
Dangers: In 2003, before the lift opened to the public, one of the test drivers (no doubt several vin chaud’s to the good) apparentlymanaged to crash the cable car into the station on the Peisey-Vallandry side. He was supposedly travelling at about 20kmh at the time – 10 times the normal docking speed! And who said the French were bad drivers? Thankfully, they’ve since put a computer in charge of the controls…
Random fact: The Vanoise Express is also France’s first double-decker cable car.
Chance of it coming off the cable: Low.
Don’t get on… if you suffer from claustrophobia. The lift can take up to 300 people in one go.