For the third in my series of posts from our holiday in France I’m sharing our Tree Top Adventure. We last tried this back in 2013. Back them, we had never been on, or seen anything like this before but it was so popular with everyone bar farmer Nick, we have been campaigning to return ever since.
3 years ago the triplets were just nine years old and too young to complete all the adult runs. This time at twelve they were just able to do the full set including the famous black run with its scary wire bridge across the canyon.
It was an hour’s drive from our cousin’s house in Uzes and so arriving at lunchtime, the first thing on the kid’s minds was food. We found a beautiful shady bench overlooking the river Gardon for our picnic.
Next to the picnic benches were some tightrope challenges. They just had to be tested and proved the perfect way to limber up and practice balance before our tree top adventure.
Replenished and loosened up after our drive we checked in with the guides. I was pleased to see the safety harnesses had improved since our last visit. Back then a forgotten clip could be serious; now the clips and harnesses had a safely feature to ensure while off the ground, you always had at least one of your safety ropes attached to an overhead wire. I was glad of the detailed explanation in English on how to use the equipment before we began.
Even after our briefing there was a trainer trail to complete before we could be let loose on the serious course. A chance for plenty of family banter for anyone finding themselves in a muddle!
Finally with our training complete we were ready to begin. The kids all put me last so I didn’t hold them up, cheeky I thought, but in fact they were quite right, I was the most nervous and scared of all and just thrilled to be joining them and not welching out to take the photos. Though it did mean balancing my phone precariously in my bum bag and trying not to shake as I risked letting go (harness attached) to grab the odd snap from up high. I was kicking myself for forgetting to charge the Go Pro after kayaking on the river the previous day.
The Red Run began at ground level so I was able to video a clip of the boys receiving their briefing and setting off.
By the time we finished I couldn’t have been more proud of my athletic kids and their tree top adventure. However my real star was Clio who hung back to encourage me not to quit when I really thought I couldn’t cling on. Together we completed the black run and wobbled over the final terrifying canyon to meet up with the boys.
All in all this was a huge success and a real highlight of our holiday, although it did leave some of us quite exhausted.
Our Tree Top Adventure on Video
Tips for attempting a Tree Top Adventure
We went to Abracadabranch in the South of France
Prices were around 20 euros each making it an expensive day for all of us.
Take plenty of drinks, we ran out despite taking several litres of water and ended up investing in more there which thankfully was available to buy.
At Abracadabranch there is only one loo and it is a composting toilet in a B&Q style shed – be warned!
Road signs are pretty poor, we relied on our cousins for directions heading out of Ales, as you are almost there before you see any signs.
Take off any rings a they will rub when you are hanging onto the ropes.
I wish I’d taken cycling gloves. I ended up ripping the skin off my fingers clinging onto the wire ropes hauling myself up to ledges.
Wear comfy flexible clothing. I wore my running gear. Shirts and T shirt are fine so long as you have good movement.
You need a moderate level of fitness, my arm strength let me down and my shoulders ached the following day.
Allow 3 hours to complete all the runs.
If you are a little nervous try not to have a big crowd with you on the more tricky sections like the long wire bridge as it will make it more bendy and hard to keep your balance and grip. The boys thought this was hilarious, Clio and I crossed solo!
Remember the harnesses will save you if you are in trouble so never panic or it will zap your strength. Just try and you might surprise yourself. I don’t have a great head for heights but still loved the adrenaline rush of completing each stage.
Listen carefully to the safety briefing, it is quite straightforward when you get the hang of it but requires concentration.
If you try this abroad make sure you are fluent in the language or choose a venue with English speaking guides as we did.
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