Bonjour! If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been yakking a lot about Paris. First it was word nerdery, then museums. Today it’s amusement parks, of which three — count ‘em, three — we somehow managed to visit.
La Fête à Neu-Neu
Unfortunately everything about this fête seems to be in French so I can’t give you much background except that maybe it’s named for Neilly-sur-Seine, which is a Parisian suburb, but we definitely didn’t go to a suburb so I don’t know what the deal is. Maybe it started there and now is traveling.
Whatever its origins, La Fête à Neu-Neu is a typical small-time carnival, except that all of the English is slightly off. For instance, there was a ride called Crazy Mouse, which may have to do with Mickey Mouse, but we weren’t sure. Also, the carnies didn’t seem too concerned about rules. You want to stand with your kid in the middle of a spinning ride holding onto nothing? Sure, go ahead!
First we rode the ferris wheel. The height made me more nervous than I expected, but otherwise it felt safe. The log flume was another story. You know how on most American rides, there’s a bar or harness that locks and holds you in? Not so on the Neu-Neu flume. As we settled in, the carny (roughly) adjusted my leg so that my foot was bracing on the tread. That’s when I realized that, as well as holding onto the railings for dear life, was all that was holding us in.
The first hill wasn’t bad, but then I saw the second one. “I changed my mind!” I cried, but of course it was too late. “This is really dangerous!” I yelled as we went down.
For the life of us, we couldn’t figure out why the jardin had such a name. It used to be a zoo so our best guess is that a zoo is a place for animals — and at one point, people — to get acclimated to the local environment. In Australia apparently, there used to be a distinction between zoos and places for acclimatization, but then the Melbourne Zoological and Acclimatization societies were consolidated in 1861. Maybe other countries followed suit.
Anyway, the Jardin d’Acclimatation isn’t a zoo anymore but a small, you guessed it, amusement park. It’s described as a children’s park despite a potentially dangerous zipline, which of course Yiannis had to try.
Everything went smoothly although at one point the girl who went before Yiannis had trouble detaching her hook so that she could get out of the way for his, um, impact. There was a bit of panic since for some reason there was no one on that side to help her, but eventually she got unhooked and out of the way.
The food at Jardin d’Acclimatation was more upscale than at Neu-Neu (typical carnival food, including barbe à papa). There were a few eateries to choose from and went with Angelina’s Tea Salon. My go-to sandwich, jambon beurre, was good, as was my chocolate macaroon. I had wanted the chestnut, but the quality wasn’t satisfactory to the counter guy so he suggested a different flavor. Now that’s service.
La mère of all French amusement parks. Since we had dinner plans that evening, I was little worried about getting in Disneyland and making it back in time. However, we quickly discovered my concerns were unnecessary.
While the park is typical Disney (i.e., well-run and clean), it’s much smaller than the one in Orlando. Their version of Tomorrowland, which they call Discoveryland, is very cool in a steampunk way, but has far fewer rides. Ditto the other “lands.”
On top of that, we both got nauseous from Space Mountain, our very first ride. The one in Orlando has hills and drops, but nothing spinny, at least not that I remember. The Paris Space Mountain has hills, drops, spins, loops, and at one point we swear we were upside down — none of it good for our vertigo (yes, we’re both prone to vertigo).
Afterward I was afraid that a) the vertigo would return, or at least b) that I’d feel sick for the rest of the day. However, after a couple of calm rides and some fried food and soda, we both felt much better.
Besides Space Mountain, we rode the Pinocchio ride and perennial favorites, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted House, and made it back to the city in plenty of time for dinner.
Next! Regular parks.