PARIS: In the heart of Paris, a thin opening in a tin roof leads to a dizzying and privileged playground for Charles Poujade and Mélanie Buffetaud. As a couple, they indulge in parkour and travel around the city.
On this particularly hot morning, the pair had few options for a ride to the heights. We must avoid overflowing zinc, hot and slippery, and find a building where they can enter and climb to the top.
They called U’Mood (artist’s name), friend of the parkour community, that art of movement that consists of crossing obstacles with the body, to access the roofs of Paris. The choice fell on a beautiful building on rue de Rivoli after an unsuccessful attempt near the Pompidou Center.
The trio digs up the fire escape on the top floor, climbs silently and silently to reach the heights through a small window. Once crossed, the “trackers” – the name given to parkour practitioners – climb the ladder and close the skylight. A boundless world opens up to them.
“The idea is to be as discreet and invisible as possible. If the neighbors see us, the mission has failed for us. Don’t leave a trace, so they don’t even have the idea that someone has entered your roof,” Charles Poujade told AFP.
In the building opposite, the one in La Samaritaine, several people were arrested when they saw them running, jumping, spinning across the roofs. A few inches from your feet, after an umpteenth double somersault, is a vacuum.
“At first I was dizzy. Well, not real vertigo, but the fear of heights. We fight our fears, we face them and work on them. lose my balance, and I was a little higher every day”, underlines Poujade, who “flys a little on the roofs like the characters in the movies”.
A fan of parkour for fourteen years, Poujade trains exclusively on the ground and “climb to the heights every now and then”. For four years, he has been taking Parisian air tours with his partner, Mélanie Buffetaud, and they are one of the rare couples to evolve together.
Still tender in practice, Mélanie Buffetaud, a photographer, never tempts the devil and feasts on the images offered to her.
“It’s the only way I’ve found to love the city. You have access to exceptional places and views that make you want to create. A light, shadows, a perspective that I’m going to want to capture. There’s also the fact that it’s a privileged place, you you need skills to go there, you rely on a piece of chimney, a piece of sheet metal, your supports. It’s zen, it’s Paris, but calm”, confides 27-year-old Clermontoise.
The duo, who recount their adventures and way of life in a newly released book (“Voyous”, by Michel Lafon), have made a name for themselves in the art of displacement scene with their two YouTube channels (almost 3 million subscribers combined).
One of his videos – a beach chase in parkour mode – totaled around 125 million views a year after its broadcast.
From that success, they can finance all their projects, which extend to sports entertainment; Poujade is a main and regular participant on the game show Ninja Warriors and both were crowned 2019 world champions of Chase Tag, a new sport that resembles the game of cat and mouse.
On the rooftops of Paris, Charles and Mélanie take in the beauty of the city one last time before sneaking through the small window that brings them back downstairs.
Everything is put back in place, without noise or word. They go downstairs and open the building door to the Parisian noise.