Paris winter afternoons are made for people watching. One of most festive and fun spots to pass time is at the ice skating rink created each winter at the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville just across the Seine from the Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame Cathedral. Grab a vin chaud or chocolat chaud to keep warm while watching the first timers and experts alike taking a spin around the rink.
The ornate Hôtel de Ville with its turrets and statues makes a beautiful backdrop to this winter Parisian scene. Home to the city’s council since 1357, the Hôtel de Ville is still the location of Paris city administration offices, the mayor’s offices, along with large salons for receptions and exhibitions. The grand mansion dates from 1822 with the front façade a near replica of the 17th-century town hall that burned down on January 18, 1871 during the Paris Commune.
If you’re in a shopping mood, just across the square you’ll spot the entrances to BHV (Bazar de Hôtel de Ville), a huge department store where you’ll find just about everything – including a French kitchen sink!
The winter ice skating tradition at the Hôtel de Ville is popular with locals and travelers, and the scene is especially lively on the weekends. Along with ice skating on the Eiffel Tower, it’s one of those magical memories that you won’t soon forget! If you’d like to take a spin yourself while you’re in Paris, the entrance to the rink is free and skate rentals are only €5.
Ice skating at the Hôtel de Ville is open until March 4, 2012. Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 12pm – 10pm and Saturdays & Sundays from 9am – 10pm. Closest Métro: Hôtel de Ville. Bring a warm pair of gloves and ice skate in style in Paris!
Photo credits: Laura Thayer