Coaster enthusiasm isn't my only esoteric hobby; I'm also extremely fond of sacred choral music, particularly that of the Anglican variety. I've sung with the choirs of Saint Bartholomew's Church for over twenty years, and I'm also an occasional member of The Rivelin Singers. It was the latter group that was invited to sing church services in La Madeleine and Notre Dame de Paris this weekend, and while the dates were far from ideal for me I decided that the opportunity to sing in a large cathedral took precedence over what I was supposed to be doing. One of our performances subsequently went out on French television and is available to watch online.
23rd August 2014
I'd expected to see some of my fellow singers at breakfast in our hotel, but most had been out very late the night before and had chosen to sleep in. Rather than wait for them to wake up I decided on a whim to spend my morning at the Jardin d'Acclimatation, a city park that I'd last visited almost ten years before. The journey took less than half an hour by metro to Les Sablons, located about three minutes walk from the park. As luck would have it I'd timed my arrival almost perfectly; I was within sight of the main gate as a staff member unlocked it.
It looked at first glance like the Dragon might have been retired, but Google Earth came to my rescue, revealing it to be some distance away from the main ride area. I decided to start my day there, and purchased a ticket from the elderly operator who gestured me wordlessly towards the front row. That vantage point gave me a clear view of the ride's propulsion system: a series of kicker tyres triggered by the weight of a train passing overhead. The regularly-spaced motors result in a fairly constant speed for much of the layout, but the last two turns feel like a proper coaster as they are both forceful and driven entirely by momentum. Today the wonderfully severe figurehead on the train was wearing fresh paint, which made it look particularly striking.
I was under the impression that Papillons d'Alice was the basis for the Zamperla Junior Twister Coaster, but that memory was faulty; the layout is entirely different, and it operates with standalone cars rather than connected four car trains. The spinning mechanism was unlocked after the first two corners and delivered a fun if not overly intense ride, ending with the car being straightened automatically without a jerk. There was an automatic barrier on the exit platform which was kind of neat too, the gates sliding apart as I approached.
Enthusiasts planning to visit the Jardin d'Acclimatation should be aware that the amusement rides within do not always open with the park, even on a Saturday. I'd hoped to ride the Tacot Express powered coaster today, but had to abandon it as it hadn't opened by noon.
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