If Paris does not come to the mountain … the mountain will come to Paris! Every year from the beginning of December to the end of February an ice skating rink and sledge lane are erected in front of the main town hall of Paris, the beautiful Hotel de Ville in the 4th arrondisement. Especially when the weather turns icy cold here in Paris from December to March it is nice to feel like you are in a winter wonderland whilst standing on a square in the center of this beautiful city.
Grown-ups and kids get to skate on the ice rink from which you can catch a glimpse of the Seine. For kids who are still a bit unsteady on the ice, you can borrow ‘learning’ skates which have two blades mounted at the bottom of the skates (up to shoe size 27). A word of advice – if you are taking little kids, try to be at the rink before 4pm. That way you will avoid the Parisian school kids flooding the rink after school is over; it can get a little crowed and rowdy due to enthusiastic teenagers.
The sledge slope, in French known as the “luge,” is fantastic. The sledges (or sled lanes) are reserved for kids from 12 and under. Each kid gets a 10 minute turn. Children under six years of age need to be accompanied by an adult, (but watching parents going down the lane, it really did not seem like a chore). I have never seen these kinds of sled lanes anywhere else, and the kids have a great time on them. There are ice skating rinks in a few more locations in Paris, but the Hotel de Ville is the only place you will find the sledge lane. Last year there was a lovely little typical Parisian merry-go-round set up beside the ice skating rink during the holiday weeks. Some kids seem to enjoy that even more than the rest of the entertainment! I have not mentioned the best part of the sledding experience: it is all set up and organized by the Paris town council, and so it is completely free! The only thing you need to pay for is the rental for grown-up skates. You are more than welcome to turn up with your own pair of skates, but if you are like me you probably don’t normally travel with a pair of skates in your handbag…
Emile writes for Babyccino from Paris.