ski pass, along with the outdoor swimming pool, but you do have to pay for skate hire unless you have your own. The entrance and cash desk are shared with the swimming pool, so it is easy enough to do both in one afternoon if you want to.
With a willing friend, who also had not been on skates in a few years, I headed to the square and the slightly hidden entrance to the left of La Grange. We paid our money and headed downstairs to the well organised skate hire. The hire skates seemed quite reasonable and new, compared to those I remember hiring in the past. I would recommend long socks though, as after a session of skating in normal socks my ankles were starting to rub raw. Ski socks would be ideal.
My first steps on the ice were a lot wobblier than I remember. We flailed and teetered forward to begin with, staying close to the edge to have something to hold on to. As a ski instructor, I have always believed that there is a lot in common between skiing and skating, and I find that good skaters always pick up skiing quickly. I was therefore a bit aggrieved to discover that we couldn’t jump onto the ice and glide away like Torvill and Dean. The basic skating manoeuvres came back quickly enough, and we were both skating happily around the outside of the rink before too long. Fancier moves like skating backwards and spinning on my toes sadly eluded me, at least for the moment. The rink was quiet at first but soon filled up with a mixture of skaters. There were strugglers like us, families enjoying the ice together, a handful of experts doing tricks, couples effortlessly whizzing past holding hands, and beginners clinging to the plastic penguins and seals provided to help them.
Skating in the open air, beneath the mountains as the sun sets, is quite a different feeling from the warehouse-like indoor rinks I remember in the UK. I really enjoyed the outdoor setting, watching the last skiers come down the Jandri 1 and Lutins pistes just above us in the early evening. I found the ice was smoothest at 4pm when the rink opens, and was getting quite lumpy in places as the evening went on. Surprisingly, this seemed to make the skating easier and not harder, as the softer surface was a little more forgiving. The whole experience was a lot of fun, and made me realise I shouldn’t have left it so long to get a pair of skates on again.
If you want to watch others skate, there is space to walk around the outside of the rink on two sides without paying to enter. You can also have a drink in the Abri or Bivouac bars at the foot of the pistes, or have a meal in La Grange in the main square whilst watching the skaters. All three overlook the ice rink from different directions, although perhaps not closely enough for parents wanting to supervise young children. There is a video games arcade next to the entrance which overlooks the ice as well.
The ice rink is open from 4-8pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and from 4-10pm on weekdays. On Thursdays, there is no skating as the rink is reserved for Ice Gliders (dodgem cars on ice) from 4-9pm. Expect to see a review of these in the future.
With a ski pass, entrance is free and skate hire is 4.80€ per adult and 3.40€ per child or senior (up to 12 / over 65). Without a ski pass, entry plus skate hire costs 8.20€ per adult and 5.70€ per child or senior.
Read more from Ian on his website.
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