Awaken To Hotel de Ville, Paris

Bonjour mes amis,

The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe is one lucky fellow. Firstly because he escaped assasination in 2002 and secondly, he has a view of Paris which could easily inspire him to action. His place of residence is the Hotel de Ville, which has actually been on this same site since 1357! Now that’s a long time!

Perhaps he was looking out his window one sunny afternoon overlooking the enormous cobblestone square beneath him and recognising the beauty of his city, came up with the idea of introducing the Velib system to all in Paris.

If you’re not sure what that is, let me explain. The Velib or public bicycle system has been really successful. One of 20,000 bikes can be  hired and utilised across Paris in a matter of minutes. Anyone is able to pick up a bike from any one of the self service bike rental depots (providing you have a credit card) and  pedal off in any direction to investigate his beautiful city. He’s keeping the pledge he made to reduce air pollution in Paris and doing a fine job at that.

Locals love Bertrand’s  bike system and as a tourist too, you can certainly get around into nooks and crannies very efficiently. Why don’t you try one yourself next time you’re in Paris?

All you have to do is buy a ticket for unlimited usage to the entire system for several days or even a year! The first thirty minutes is free and you pay a small price (eg one euro for the next half hour) or  get about on an hour basis after that. Follow the bike lanes and do your homework to make sure you know where you’re drop off point is going to be  (maybe even map out two depots in case one is full!) Ooh, I forgot to mention girls, you can wear your heels!

I’ve always enjoyed the vast area outside the Hotel de Ville- the Place de Greve at the front in warmer months, listening to the sounds of childish squeals on the putting green or on the continual laps of horses under the carousel. Colours of a menagerie of fantastical animals I haven’t seen before, whirl past me and I’m certain Bertrand Delanoe smiles like the rest of us plebians below. It’s a far cry from the public execution sight which used to take place here- decapitation of heads, bodies burning at the stake  or hung, drawn and quartered in general diabolical horror of the 1300’s.

On a less violent note, you can always watch the French rugby on the big screen these days from the lawn on the other side of the Hotel de Ville.

In the winter though, the Place de Greve offers a whole new experience and the outside of the Hotel de Ville turns into a magical ice skating rink for everyone to enjoy. My french awakening is thrilled to think about skating here in the deliciously cold air- whirling about as best I can! Maybe next time!

If you’ve skated here already, I’d love to hear from you.  I can only imagine ice skating out there in the open air with only the reflections under foot to remind you of how lucky you are or cutting the ice in the evening under Parisian lights? Just fantastique!

Ice skating is always possible outside the Hotel de Ville  from December 1st to February 28th and adds to the festivities during Christmas. It’s entirely free. You just have to pay for skate hire which is 5 euro. A great experience for you in Paris.

Cold weather doesn’t necessarily mean staying indoors especially in Paris. I am always reminded of Billy Connelly’s famous line (said with a broad scottish accent of course),

“There’s nooo such thing as bad weather-

It’s just inappropiate clothing!”

So, don’t forget your hat and gloves! Opening time for ice skating is the following:

Monday to Thursday 12pm to 10pm, Friday 12pm to 2am, Saturday 9am to 12am and Sunday 9am to 10pm.

Hotel de Ville has  its own metro station, so it’s very accessible. If  Bertrand had to get out in a hurry (which I hope is never the case) as others have done in the past, he could use the underground tunnel which was built in the early 1800’s as it connects the Hotel de Ville with a local army barracks.

While you’re in Paris, you can skate or enjoy the expos at Place de Greve, never giving that another thought!

Do enjoy!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@2010 Therese Waddell


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