High up the Tour Eiffel

After visiting the Foire du Trône, I made my way to the centre of Paris to have something to eat at the local Hard Rock Café near the – at least in the francophone world very well known – waxworks museum Musée Grévin. In the immediate vicinity there are three really beautiful shopping arcades of the 19th century, Passage Jouffroy, Passage Verdeau and Passage des Panoramas, which invite you to go on a discovery tour.

Since I like to look at Paris from above on every of my visits, I went to Gare Montparnasse on Daniel’s (lacront at onride.de) advice to try out the viewing platform of the Tour Montparnasse. Thanks to the Paris Visite ticket, a visit to the platform is supposed to be quite affordable, but 25% discount on an entrance fee of 18€ was not worth it in the end. Instead, I decided to visit my favourite framework construction.

From the Champ de Mars it is only a short walk to the Eiffel Tower. The tower, which is now completely fenced in, can be reached after a security check. Since I only wanted to get to the second floor anyway and the lifts that were in operation were overcrowded, I decided to climb up the tower on foot. As expected, there was nothing going on here. After buying the tickets and another security check the ascent could start right away. It falls easily from the hand and at some point the first floor is reached. Because of the lower crowd it is worthwhile to stay here for a while and have a look at all the boards and other media. The view is outstanding even from this level.

One level higher, you could see all the people who wanted to get to the top in the second lift and thus were queuing. Meanwhile I allowed myself an espresso and while waiting in the queue I was entertained by a very target-oriented “non” from the saleswoman to an Indian who had just tried to pay with a $100 note. After I took one or two photos up here as well, I went back down to the first floor and enjoyed the moment a little.

In the meantime it was already 9 pm and I slowly wanted to go back to Torcy. As I left the Eiffel Tower grounds, the rain was getting heavier and heavier and suddenly the flying Eiffel Tower merchants besieging the exit of the tower became experts for umbrellas. I did without, but unfortunately I reached the railway soaking wet and dripping. At 11 pm I was back at the hotel.


Le King et la Foire du Trône

Originally it was not planned to visit the Foire du Trône on a Thursday. However, as the French train company SNCF was supposed to go on strike the next day and it was therefore unclear whether and how often the Paris regional train RER would run to and from Torcy, I simply moved the planned visit to the French capital one day forward. Since it should remain dry until the evening, my first destination on this day was the Bois de Vincennes and with it a visit to the Foire du Trône.

The funfair officially opens at 12 o’clock. When I entered the square an hour later, there was naturally not much going on. Here and there there were some groups of visitors, but there was no trace of the showmen. Sometimes you didn’t even find them during the whole day. Good, in the evening it should rain. This might be reason enough for a French showman to stay away from work, but it casts an unnecessary shadow on this big event. Imagine such behaviour at a large funfair in Germany, at some point nobody would ever go there again.

Without being able to leave a great deal of money on the Foire du Trône, I was nevertheless happy to have some rides on rides that I had already had on my to-do list for some time. Only the main reason for the visit – a ride on the infamous Le King roller coaster – was to take longer. The start was made by the Jet Star roller coaster of the showman Montalétang.

This chic little darling from Schwarzkopf spent years in Holly Park, France, before it finally closed its doors in 2014. Prior to that, the Jet Star had stood for 24 years as Cortina Bob under the showman Steindl in Vienna’s Prater, before he ordered the Megablitz from Vekoma. In fact, the ride is the first Jet Star produced in Münsterhausen.

The ride begins with a short right-hand bend, which is immediately followed by the ride’s lift. At a height of 13m, we then pass through a rather wide bend, with the words Jet and Star on our left, briefly interrupted by the Olympic Rings on our right. With momentum we now rush down the first slope and it’ s steep! The bob-like sitting position does its best and thus provides the first moment of surprise of the ride. We whiz through the valley at full speed and immediately throw ourselves into the steep curve close to the ground, which revolutionised the roller coaster world at that time. Just below the lift hill we finish our ride and immediately start a longer ascent. Now on the second level we follow the track before the first gradient, before we say goodbye to the right and enter a Bayernkurve via a small gradient. Over hill and dale we now turn left along the front of the ride. In the following valley there is a short change of direction, whereupon we go through the back of the ride a third time. After a short left bend, we fall to the ground once more, whereupon we ride for a very long time through a right bend close to the ground, which tapers to an upward helix towards the end. This is followed by a short dip and an equally short ascent before the final downward helix awaits us. With momentum we then reach the brakes, which bring us to an unexpectedly gentle stop.

After having already tested two of the later City Jet rides, I was very excited about a ride in an original Jet Star and was very positively surprised. The ride on the meanwhile 50 year old roller coaster is simply a lot of fun due to its racy curves and the straight drop at the beginning of the ride. The ride characteristics are still indisputably great, a real Schwarzkopf roller coaster. It’s just a pity that you can’t find a roller coaster of this series on German fairs since a very long time. I would have liked to ride it much earlier. Accordingly, I would like to thank Mr. Montalétang, who recognised the gap of the Jet Star of showman Lapère at the Foire du Trône, which moved to Babyland-Amiland, and was able to close it seamlessly. A really cool move.

On the way to the Jet Star, the worm of the Big Apple La Pomme of the Pouget Groupe was already smiling his way through the course, while his colleague 1001 Pattes of the showman Perc was still wrapped up in the children’s corner on the other side of the Foire du Trône. Interestingly, one worm stopped running after the other one finally revealed himself to the public in the late afternoon. Strange, but still CC+2; it’s fine with me.

The prototype of the Reverchon spinning coaster shows itself to its potential passengers as new. The roller coaster Crazy Mouse of the showman family Degoussée not only looks good, but also performs well during the ride. As usual from the manufacturer, the second part of the ride resembles a wild merry-go-round, which becomes more and more intense in the hairpin curves. So far, so good. While after the last curve the brakes are already waiting for the passengers, the prototype goes one better: There is a bonus dip! Although this is also the end of the ride, it’s definitely a cool gimmick.

Another ride that started early was the roller coaster Infernal Toboggan by the showman Lapère/Roopers. This SDC Galaxy, which was built for the Belgian showman Bufkens sometime in the 80s, has been in the hands of the showman family Lapère since 1997. The ride through the compact layout with its tight support structure and seemingly endless helices scores above all through a tunnel that covers the complete second exit including the ascent. A nice ride, even though the coaster itself has seen better times.

In the same series, another SDC classic started up in the afternoon. After having already tested a Centrox of the same manufacturer or at least a Spanish copy at a Spanish funfair, I was now very excited about the ride on a Galactica/Moonraker – because the basic ride sequence of both rides differs from each other only in one important detail. Basically, both rides are a slightly more modern round-up, which is ridden in a sitting position and is equipped with shoulder restraints. The rotation of the gondola can therefore be variably controlled; but in general the ride is quite fast and powerful. The maximum inclination of the boom is similar to that of an Enterprise, so the ride is quite steep. The difference between both carousels is an additional function in the ride. While the nacelle of the Centrox can be moved into the horizontal position via hydraulics, the whole centre boom of the Moonraker can rotate 360°. However, this is done at a moderate speed and not against the direction of rotation of the disc, which is why there is no luffing effect similar to that of a hully gully. A third version of this ride was intended to combine the two functions, but was never built.

Although I was the only passenger during the second trip of the day, the ride on the Moonraker was really successful. The ride and the staging of it speak for themselves. The additional rotation of the boom is a welcome addition to the grandiose, albeit somewhat monotonous, pressure spectacle. It is nice that even today a showman takes the time to keep an 80s classic alive.

Le King, la montagne russe 100% français, was built by Soquet, like many other fairground coasters in the country. Most of these were looping coasters that eventually found their way abroad. Le King is different. The layout of the roller coaster, built in 1995, is very similar to the Alpina Bahn, but also sets many own accents. The intricate layout with its many steep curves promises an exciting ride, which is also advertised on countless screens. As a roller coaster fan you are of course aware of the ride’s style. It is not without reason that it is considered one of the most terrible Adrealin rides in the country, after all the shoulder bar contact is supposed to be guaranteed as high as the share of French components. And yet the train is extremely comfortable. You sit very freely. The shoulder restraint gives you a lot of leeway to the right and left; contact with it seems to be rather distant. But then the journey begins.

After a short S-bend along the sidetrack we are constantly pushed up a ramp towards the lift hill at the back of the ride. This brings us up to the starting height of 26m. After a short pre-drop we fall down a steep curve without great expectations. This is a very decent ride, but the further we go towards the valley, the more the train is inclined. In fact, we can see the approaching disaster mercilessly coming up. The moment the train starts the next ascent, we get wiped out. The following ascent with an integrated change of direction, on the other hand, is again going quite well. Arriving on the next hilltop, we have a short moment to somehow cling to the stirrup, because the next steep curve is already waiting for us. Once again we drive through the following valley with a much too high cross slope, whereupon the contact with the stirrup is established. Over a longer ramp we reach the first block brake of the ride.

Past the King logo we are pulled down once more in a curve. Here one of the worst parts of the layout awaits us. After a proper clamp, it goes up again rapidly. Following a short dip we rush down another curve against our will. Fortunately, the slope in the valleys is now a little less steep, but a series of wild curve manoeuvres awaits us now. Over several hills with integrated turns we now ride criss-cross through the ride before we dive into a tunnel. Through several containers we now go at full speed over smaller ascents, as well as a left/right turn, before we come back to daylight. After another right turn we reach the braking section of the ride and soon the station.

Le King is actually a very passable and funny roller coaster, if it weren’t for these terrible valleys. Without the constant contact with the shoulder restraints, the roller coaster would be extremely entertaining. The ride itself is quite smooth and the layout with its many curves, funny dips and the extremely fast tunnel finale is a bit strange, but not bad at all. Basically, it’s what you would expect from an oversized Soquet roller coaster. The strokes on the other hand don’t really fit to it and make you forget about any repetitive rides. Quel dommage.

That’s it from the Foire du Trône. As mentioned at the beginning I could not ride very much on this visit. At some point I didn’t see any reason to want to ride anything anymore, although at that time the Mondial Power Maxx swings up, as well as the HUSS Pirate directly on the main row. Shortly after one of the two tagadas opened its daily business, I left the Foire du Trône.

In general, I found the Parisian funfair to be very unorganised. There is no round trip, in many places there are several rows parallel to each other. I would recommend a visit only in the late evening or at the weekend, otherwise you will find yourself in front of closed rides. Why the rides start around noon was not clear to me.


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Paris (2015)

What does a student do shortly before his or her exams, where he or she sits in the State Library almost every day until it closes? Right, book his holiday! A destination was quickly found, as the range of offers in February is quite manageable within Europe and the budget is not exactly high. A trip to Efteling before the opening of the Baron 1898 is also not worthwhile. If you look at the prices on the German website of Disneyland Resort Paris the budget would be used up after just one day, but there are also much reduced packages on the other websites, like on the French one. Travelling alone is not exactly cheap either, which is why I quickly asked Dominik one evening before the booking deadline. Even more spontaneously, Julian joined us around noon the following day, but we couldn’t persuade Jan to join us, as an exam unfortunately prevented this.

Lucky coincidences then made me book a flight with Air France, otherwise the return flight with Germanwings – which were of course more expensive – would have been much more adventurous. For price reasons, however, I had to postpone my arrival by one day, so that I had an extra day in Paris. I used this day to visit the Theatre Mogador near the Galeries Lafayette, where I watched the musical Bal des Vampires (Tanz der Vampire in French).

Since the musical was not to start until the evening and my hotel room was not to be ready until the afternoon, I took a little tour of the Parisian sights. I started at the cathedral Notre-Dame, where under the watchful eyes of the French military someone actually tried to steal my backpack, which was packed to the brim – the lady wouldn’t have got far with the 12kg without being shot, but it was worth a try. I continued along the river Saine for some kilometres. Passing the Place de la Concorde and the Grand Palais I went a little bit over the Champs-Élysées to see the Arc de Triomphe from inside. The ascent to the museum level of the Arc de Triomphe is just as interesting as the view from the viewing platform to the large avenues. From my point of view, this is the most beautiful and also the widest view of Paris. Simply marvellous!

In a good mood I went to the hotel. Slightly hungry I quickly headed to a Subway where I ordered the Sub du Jour. Since the prices are similar to those in Germany, the sandwich makers are a clear recommendation for a visit to Paris, at least if you have to watch your budget. Well strengthened I went on to the theatre. Although I was a bit afraid not to understand everything, I was blown away by the show. All the actors were simply brilliant and Stéphane Métro is my Count von Krolock.

The next morning, after a slight delay of the ICE train, I met Dominik and Julian at the Gare de l’Est. With them we went over to the Gare du Nord, where we took the RER to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy.

 

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