St Jean de Sixt is home to free-range chicken eggs, some tennis courts and of course some mannequins. If you want to go for a swim, you have to get on a local bus to La Clusaz or Le Grand Bornand. During the off-season, only one of the two bakeries is open and the buses stop completely (but that’s okay because the pools close too). The only traffic jams are caused by cows being moved up or down the valley. St Jean de Sixt is the epitome of a sleepy village.
So what’s this all about? Hidden behind the tennis course is the Bun-J (“j” and “g” pronunciation are reversed in French) Ride ramp, where you can fling yourself off a ramp using a variety of tools, such as this bike, pictured, which has no brakes so you’ve got no chance to change your mind once you’ve left the top of the ramp. Alternatively, you can slide off the ramp with a mountain board in summer or a snowboard or skis in winter. You can jump off the edge if that’s what floats your boat. St Jean de Sixt just got exciting! Way, way below the ramp is a ravine which produces a lovely spooky echo of flowing water as you bounce down towards it before being pulled with ropes to the other side. Back flips are applauded and last-minute swearing prompts evil laughter from onlookers.
If people want to chuck themselves off an astro-turfed ramp, good for them: it’s the blindfolded ones I feel sorry for. Usually, it’s some guy who is about to get married or celebrate some important birthday, and his mates have bundled him into a car with a blind fold and accessorised with either handcuffs, a gorilla suit or other ‘zany’ fancy dress, or a leopard skin thong. Sometimes, it’s all of the above. The poor guy in the blindfold is harnessed up, then led down the ramp backwards and attached to a rope, like he’s abseiling, until he reaches the flat bit near the end. Each time I’ve seen it, the guy gingerly places one foot lower down the ramp, unaware of what is next. I reckon it’s probably more scary than the jump itself — it’s certainly a lot longer. A chair is perched at the end of the ramp for the blindfolded man to sit in, which then gets gaffa-taped to him so that it doesn’t end up in the ravine way below. Just before the Bun-J Ride man kicks the chair off the ramp edge, he removes the guy’s blindfold so he has a moment of horror before the fall itself. Shrug and smile or scream uncontrollably, they all end up over the edge. I’m guessing that the ravine below is partly covered with the same type of presents that the cows leave behind on the roads during their traffic jams.