On top of the world

While visiting Aix-les-Bains, we were invited to go on a hike with our wonderful hosts. Borrowing shoes, stocking up on picnic supplies and putting on our sunhats, we drove up the mountain to our starting point, for “an easy walk, with a bit of a climb”.

Walking through shaded forest, it was quite cool, in contrast to the hot day down in the valley. Between the trees, there came an occasional glimpse down over the edges of the ridge to the valleys on either side.  At some points the path was quite steep and we had to cling to the hand rail. My inner competitor (who likes to always be in front) had somehow pushed me to claim the lead, and I thought that this might have been the climbing we were warned about. Until I arrived at the foot holds built into the rock face.

It was a matter of placing your feet securely while holding on to the cable with your hands… and NOT LOOKING OUT OVER THE EXPANSE OF BLUE SKY DROPPING AWAY BELOW THE RIDGE. With shaky knees, we managed to haul ourselves up to the summit.

And wow…. it was amazing. At first I was reluctant to lift my eyes much past the gravel path in front of me, because I still couldn’t trust those shaky knees. I didn’t have to hold out for too long though, a few paces later we were at our destination: le dent du chat.

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Literally ‘The cat’s tooth’, it seemed like the perfect place to sit down and eat our picnic lunch (du saucisson, du fromage savoyard, du bon pain) looking out at the town and the lake spread out below us. Our altitude was well above that of several planes flying through the mountain pass, and the mostly clear sky left it difficult to compare ourselves to the clouds, but gave us the most spectacular view.

It was one of the most stunning walks I’ve ever done, and definitely one which challenged my instinctual dislike of heights (which fortunately I am slowly learning to ignore because the view is always such a great reward).  One thing is for sure: this fantastic experience left me feeling on top of the world, even once we’d left the mountain peak well behind.


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