The appointment was precise.
Ten o'clock sharp.
A tour bus has picked you up from your resort deep in the woods, chosen far from any light pollution for a chance to see the Northern Lights.
Coming from the airport, you hardly paid attention, 8 km on the national road 4 in the direction of Ivalo, to this set evoking a commercial area of the periphery, wound in the landscape punctuated by pretty wooden chalets colored .
Apart from this wart, the forest road led you far into Lappish exoticism.
Your children, stars in their eyes, are a little surprised when the driver drops you off at a huge service station.
The gas pumps adjoin a warehouse fitted out by Wild Nordic Finland, a company specializing in snowmobile rides, which has set up its safari center there.
The place evokes a no man's land.
The driver, passenger list in hand, warns you that he will be back in five hours.
Because in Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland, in the village of Santa Claus, the day of adventure counts five hours.
No way to escape it.
When the bus has left, you cross the road by an underground concrete passage which leads to a car park.
The snow is dirty.
The children jump about, all in their innocence.
You pout, push the only door that can be.
To your amazement, it opens onto a shopping arcade with a ridiculous merry-go-round like you find in supermarkets, souvenir shops like in Disneyland Paris.
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Only the white coat creates poetry
The huge snowman that sits in Rovaniemi.
Valerie Sasportas / Le Figaro
More original: the polar circle information office delivers, in addition to maps of the site and postage stamps for Santa Klaus, certificates for crossing the parallel.
The line is drawn on the ground, under your feet.
It makes parents smile.
Children don't see what's funny.
They didn't come for that.
You come out through the other door, which opens onto the village itself.
And there, surprise: nothing really catches the eye, no attraction, no magic.
Only the white coat creates poetry.
A huge snowman sits in front of the Santa Claus museum.
The children run.
Still happy, we think.
The course is not very long but it is nicely done.
Impression of strolling in the Tim Burton film,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Elves are at work in the middle of gift packages.
Children dream that there is theirs here.
A large clock counts down to December 25.
But to see Santa Claus this time, you have to pay!
Cherubim weepingly plead for parents who are chomping at the bit.
Would we be taken for pigeons?
A small sign indicates that you can buy a skip-the-line...
For a minimum of 170 euros per person, the famous five-hour grand slam: a visit to the village, essentially made up of large tepees housing overpriced restaurants and chalets housing hotels, meeting Father Christmas “if you wish”, see a reindeer farm (that's good) and take a “little sleigh ride” with them, a quick 500 meters.
The program also plans to meet the "adorable huskies of the breeding", to walk on 800 meters in dog sled in the Arctic Circle, to lunch of a "salmon soup".
The children grimace.
We are looking for an alternative, less expensive, more pleasing.
To walk "on the reindeer path", over 400 meters, it's 18 € per adult, 14 € per child.
For 3 km, the “winter adventure” is €70 per adult, €55 per child.
Leonor Roosevelt's little cabin
In the white and cold alleys, the children begin to find the time long.
"What do we do ?
The little Christmas music that bathes the atmosphere is now annoying.
A chalet attracts attention: that of Leonor Roosevelt.
It was built in 1950, we learn, in honor of the first lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, who came to Rovaniemi, a city burned during the war.
Inside: an exhibition on the history of tourism in the Arctic Circle.
But that does not interest children.
And to think that we've only been here for two hours!
The prospect of waiting for the bus for another three hours suddenly despairs.
"I'm hungry!" we hear.
In the line of sight, a fast-food: it is the least expensive (about thirty euros per person the bad burger all the same).
It's ugly but it's full.
Buses pass on the national road, we are told without precision on the frequency.
Luckily, we see a tourist bus equivalent to the one that led us into this mess.
The driver doesn't have our name on the list, but he takes us anyway.
Other families have also cut short the "adventure day at Santa's village".
It was really bad.
There was nothing to do.
The fast food was weird.
Only the museum was good, because it was Santa's warehouse
The judgment is without appeal of this child who too young to have seen
Father Christmas is garbage