Paris

Billions of people live in Paris; they’re called Parisians. These Parisians are a funny lot of people – to get to know one properly would take an eternity. It’s said that Parisians don’t like the rest of the people who live in France, and with that in mind, what chance would an out-of-town skateboarder have of receiving a welcome greeting? To tell the truth, very little. Parisians go out of their way to make you feel shitty. Taxi drivers rip you off for every penny they can, waitresses look at you like you’ve just farted as you explain how you are a vegetarian, and the hotel staff makes you feel about as welcome as diarrhea on a chairlift. Still feel like going to France? Go on, you’ll love it.

For those prepared to take the plunge, Paris is definitely worth a visit, as it boasts a ton of quality skate spots. Now, I’m not talking about one spot where the locals gather and hang out every day – some one-foot ledge that looks like it’s been chewed on by a rottweiler with diamond teeth – I am talking good street skating that can be hit up any time of any day of the week. When I told you that the Parisians didn’t give a shit, I wasn’t joking. As a skateboarder you are considered to be of such an inferior class that even a lowly security guard won’t be seen talking to you for fear of lowering his social standing to your level. This is why you can skate anywhere in Paris and nobody gives a shit. God bless those wonderful Parisians and the city they live in.

If you have the free time to explore Paris on your own, or if you go around with someone who really knows what’s up, you’ll surely hit the jackpot. All the skaters I met on my most recent trip to Paris seemed super cool. A couple guys showed my companions and me around for a day, which was good, because it’s pretty hard to come to grips with the Parisian Metro on your own. But once you’ve got it wired, the sky’s the limit.

Two of the most common places to skate are called Le Defense (don’t ask me why) and Le Dome (again, don’t ask). Le Dome is in fact an art gallery, and no one bothers any of the skaters who skate there every day – something I found hard to believe, especially after seeing a lot of bad graffiti sprayed all around the building. I guess graffiti people are of the same social ranking as skateboarders. Le Dome is where Parisian skaters meet up; some stay there all day, while others who are keener hit the city. You can skate across the river and look in awe at the Eiffel Tower, but don’t bother searching for the fabled banks beneath because you’ll be there for a long, long time – they’ve since been filled in and gone to the skate spot hall of fame in the sky.

This summer saw a lot of American pros take time out between contests to see what Paris had to offer, starting with the Adidas team including Matt Beach, Quim Cardona, and that good old boy Lance Mountain. Marc Johnson also came along for the ride, but he doesn’t ride for Adidas, so don’t let me confuse you. The second onslaught came after the Mystic Cup contest in Prague, Czech Republic and consisted of Geoff Rowley, Rick McCrank, and Arto Saari, who traveled around dismantling every spot. But you don’t have to have a special pro-skater visa in your passport to get into Paris, they admit anyone. Honest. – Skin