There is an awesome opportunity to see Paris at night by way of rollerblading through the streets with hundreds of people in a huge two hour skate in the middle of the night.
The long and short of my experience was this:
The start point was easy to find and paying the fees to people working the skate was relatively easy once someone started speaking english to me. I was strongly encouraged by the skate worker to by a year membership to the Pari-Roller club so that I would have the coverage of insurance just in case I was hurt on the skate. It was a lot of extra $, but I bought it.
Everything was fine until the skate started and I was at the end of the pack of hundreds of skaters. Skate employees bring up the rear and 'herd' the group down the streets. Because I was at the end (still going very very fast I might add) employees started to yell at me frantically. Speaking only a few 'traveler's phrases' in french I just tried to skate faster to keep up. After much yelling and harassment I asked in french if someone spoke English - all the employees laughed REALLY HARD at me. In the gruffest fashion possible, I was asked to skate to the side and let everyone pass. I thought this was so I would be able to rejoin the group at the next intersection without blocking traffic. But something told me that was not the case when the last skate employee skated right up to my face, waved at my and sarcastically said - "Bye Bye!"
I was kicked out of the skate for being in the end of the pack and not going what they considered to be fast enough. I spent $50 US dollars to skate for 8 minutes and when I was kicked out of the skate I was lost, at night, in a strange city with no way to catch up to the group.
The worst part is that this was my first night in Paris and my first experience interacting with the people of France. I planned for months in advance to take this skate.
I don't want to totally bash it, so I will say, skate if you must, but be sure you are an EXCELLENT and SWIFT skater who speaks a fair amount of french.
The Mairie (City Hall) organizes rollerskate and bike rides around Paris, and *thousands* of people get together for it. If you happen to be driving or simply trying to cross the street when they're passing, expect to wait some 20min+ until everybody's gone and the police has freed your way... very cool.
The 'ballade' on Friday nights is for experienced riders (leaves from Place d'Italie), and every Sunday afternoon there is a ride that anyone can take part in: families, beginners and experts.
Equipment: You can rent the equipment.
For all you skaters (skateboarders) out there, there are at least 3 places where you can meet up with your compadres: Les Halles, Place du Trocadero & Place de la Bastille.
I came to Fontaine des Innocents early one Spring to meet up with a friend of mine as we were traveling to Chatou to the La Maison du Fournaise where Renoir painted his famous painting The Houseboat Party.
While I was waiting near the Fontaine des Innocents, I noticed some young punks skateboarding & doing tricks, ollies & such.
I used to date a skater, that incidentally looked like River Phoenix with a tan, so naturally I'm fascinated by all them and all their tricks. My skater punk dude used to love the Pixies "Surfer Rosa"; wonder what skaters listen to now? Anyway, I'm here to give you all the hook-up on where to skate! I can't say that it's legal to do so here but at least you know where to head to should the urge strike you.
My last trip to Paris this past February I found skaters on the Place de la Bastille, in the area overlooking the Canal St-Martin - better photos this time with my digital. There were 4 of them & I managed to get decent shots of all of them. I really love the photo of the first skater as I snapped him at the peak of his high kick flip.
Should you get hungry there are several fast-food places on rue Berger such as McDonald's (Innocents area) and there are a plethora of cafes near Bastille.
And if your skater betty gets a hankering for some shopping why there's the Forum les Halles nearby that is a mecca for teenage shopping!
Photos: Feb 2006 & April 2003
Equipment: Skateboard (and hopefully protective gear) ;)
Every Friday, Pari-Roller (http://www.pari-roller.com/) organizes a ride around Paris from 10.00 PM till 1.00 AM. It starts at 10.00 pm at the Montparnasse train station, under the big clock and ends at the same place. If it rains the ride is cancelled.
The ride is free, you can pay an insurance before it starts if you want, or give money for the association who organizes it, but nobody can ask you money for this.
The ride is divided in 2 parts with a pause in the midlle. It is about 25 km long.
YOU MUST KNOW HOW TO STOP, and how to skate. It goes a bit fast, mainly in winter because there is not so much people.
The hardest is at the front of the ride, because it goes fast, and at the rear because the staff will ask you to hurry. In the middle it's allright, even children come there.
I often go there, if you want to meet, contact me.
Equipment: Roller skate, protections, water if it's hot. Look at the site because sometimes there is a disguised dress code (not obligatory)
The weekly Friday night skate in Paris (called Pari Roller) is one of the largest repeating group skates in the world.
At times, it has had as many as 35,000 skaters participating on a single night.
Participants meet at 22.00, experienced level.
The Route is different every week, but always about 30km (18.6 miles) long.
(There is a skating tour of Paris for beginners
every Sunday at 14.30
Place Bastille at the Nomades store
37 Bld Bourdon, Paris 4è, Métro Bastille, Tel. 06 13 24 88 87.)
Equipment: Roller skates, bright clothes.
Pari-Roller strongly recommends that you wear full protection.
Membership at Pari Roller:
To become a member, print and fill the form on web-page.
You can bring it every friday before the start or send by mail.
The special visitor’s package (privilege reserved to foreign skaters) at 20 EUROS, includes
membership, T-shirt and the obligatory insurance coverage.
One might expect Parisians to be avid cycling fans, but roller-skating? Having been a true 80's skating-at-the-mall-every-Saturday girl, I like the idea of closing off miles of city streets to go wheeling. To me, it's simply fascinating to see so many people of different ages, varied ethnic groups and range of athletic prowess all come together to participate. There is a relaxing Sunday afternoon skate or a Friday night excursion for more advanced skaters. Don't worry, both groups have plenty of police protection and generally keep an ambulance or two nearby!
Equipment: Roller skates, inline skates, protective gear
Paris is a nice place for rollerbladers. Unfortunately I haven't had the pleassure of bringing my skates there yet, but I hope to do so soon!
But around town, you'll get the chance to see some really good skaters make their own little shows on open squares. This photo is from a square just beside 'Louvre', and the Trocadéro-area in front of the Eiffel-Tower is very popular among 'show-skaters' where they do their drills on the slightly vertical streets.
Besides that I know that there are huge rollerskate-runs every friday nigth (all year) from the Montparnasse Tower and around town. About 4000 skaters participate and goes on from 22:00-01:00. Haven't experienced this myselt yet, but will make it's own tip when I do so...
Look at the website for information in english!
Another interesting rollerskating-fact is that there are actually policemen wearing rollerskates! I saw a pair of these 'roller cops' around the Les Halles area :)
Equipment: If you want to get rolling you natuarlly have to bring your own skates. If you want to buy some skates in Paris, look for the GO SPORT shops. You can't find a big one in Les Halles.
For the people unable to attend the Friday roller skating event & want some general info about roller skating in Paris:
- a skater is considered a pedestrian, so you cannot skate on the main road & should do this on the pavement. I did skate on the main road, with no problems, as there are many separate biking lanes in Paris.
- the pavements are generally easy to skate on.
- touristic areas are crowded, so skating on the pavement becomes difficult/impossible.
- the Coulée Verte is nice to skate on
- there are some nice small hills ( Montmartre, etc ) in Paris to skate on