Skating in Paris

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
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Saturday, January 8, 2005

As soon as I found out there was an ice rink on the Eiffel Tower I had to go. I didn't care how small it was or how much it cost. The fact it was included in the price of a climb to the first floor did make even more attractive. There was also a good chance the rink in front of the Hotel de Ville would still be open so I was really really excited! Mum had been reading the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, when she was visiting last year and had left it for us. It presented some interesting theories and was set in London and Paris so we'd decided to do our own little Da Vinci Code tour.

Out of Gare du Nord I had my head in the clouds thinking about skating and what I would eat from the boulangeries, when I was reminded about one of the many things Paris was famous for..........shit. I guess my relatively new boots had to be christened at some point.

The last section of the Da Vinci Code tells of brass medallions at various points in the ground that represent the north/south axis in Paris. You can follow the line from the Sacre Coeur down to the church of St Sulpice which was the point of longitude/latitude zero before the Greenwich Meantime point was established. We found the streets and medallions mentioned in the book and followed the directions down to the Louvre. Pretty cool, but the boulangerie was calling me so we went off in the direction of the Eiffel Tower to find the hotel.

We found a place and they of course had quiches, so we snacked out and went off to the Eiffel Tower. I was so looking forward to this. I hadn't had my skates on since just before new year when I had skated at the little outside rink at Kew Gardens in London. I knew this would be smaller but I was still excited. I asked in my best French if the rink was open and they said yes!! Ticket in hand I was smiling and heading for the security check only for the security man to look in my bag and shake his head!! I couldn't believe it! All he could say was 'Problem, problem.' So I asked if he spoke English. No. He motioned someone else over who was supposed to be able to speak English, but all he could say was, 'That is management choice.' I argued the point for a couple more minutes because I just couldn't believe that they wouldn't let me take my skates up, but to no avail. They couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak French. So I got a refund and left, extremely disappointed. Down in the mouth, David and I couldn't figure it out. So we went to the other entrance and I asked again. This time I got to speak to another young security man who explained that people had been pushing in with their own skates and this had caused problems. There was absolutely no way they were going to let me take my own skates up. So off I went, trailing behind David, as we went to find the Statue of Libertie. I decided that I had to go even if it meant wearing horrible hire skates. I mean, just how awful could it really be? So we dumped my skates back at the hotel and trekked back to the Eiffel Tower. We paid again and went up again. We queued for about 30 mins or so and then got our disgusting hire skates and on we went. I couldn't believe how bad the skates were. NO EDGES. I could hardly move! It was like wearing someone elses feet! No wonder people can't skate. No wonder they limited the sessions to 30 mins each. No one could be expected to wear those plastic things for longer than that!!!! We had a laugh trying to make it round the very, very small the rink without bumping into anyone. I couldn't stop properly because there were no edges and only just managed to do crossovers round the corners. I had to skate like I had a rod shoved up my spinal column. I probably looked constipated too. But it was funny. The skates were so bad, but I'd done it! Skating on the Eiffel Tower!!!! It was great. I couldn't wait to get down the Hotel de Ville where I was sure I could wear my own skates!

Back to the hotel to pick up my skates and we went to find a Tibetan restaurant we'd found a couple of years back. After dinner we walked over to St Sulpice church to look at the Rose Line and anything else we could find that had been mentioned in the Da Vinci Code. There was a choir practicing which was quite relaxing. A few pictures later we were at Hotel de Ville and there it was.......a HUGE outside rink. This time as I had my own skates it was free - so on I jumped! Had a bit of skate round for a while. I love skating outside. It was getting quite late though so we headed back to the hotel.

We found a lovely boulangerie for some breakfast and went over to see St Sulpice in the daylight. There was a printed sign in French and English explaining the origins of the Obelisk and of the Paris and Greenwich Meantime. It also pointed out that the 'Rose Line' didn't exist and never had. Also mentioning the recent publication of the Da Vinci Code and the fact that the church had nothing to do with the Priory of Sion that didn't ever exist either. Hmmmmmmmmm. All very interesting. David wanted to check out the Mona Lisa and the painting of Madonna on the Rocks in the Louvre and I wanted to have another skate. So we parted for a few hours. We got some lunch together later and walked all the way up to the Sacre Coeur! Fab view and great inside but the usher type men inside were like prison wardens. We sat at the back and listened to the nuns in white singing which was almost angelic but when we got up to wander round and take in the rest of the church the pushy ushers were really pushy and ended up tainting our visit with their constant 'shh-ing' and waving of the arms and trying to push people around the church. Churches are supposed to be places of peace and worship but we were made to feel like intruders. Bit disappointing for such a lovely church. We went back down to the Hotel de Ville for one last skate and then it was time to go.

It's a fabulous city. I've been there 5 times and I still have so much more to do and see!
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