On this particularly hot morning, the duo had few options for a walk on the heights. We must avoid the overflow of zinc, hot and slippery, and find a building where they can enter and climb on top.
They called on U’Mood (artist’s name), a friend of the parkour community, this art of movement consisting of crossing obstacles with your body, to access the rooftops of Paris. Their choice fell on a beautiful building on rue de Rivoli after an unsuccessful attempt near the Pompidou Center.
The trio unearths the fire escape on the top floor, climbs quietly and silently to reach the heights via a small window. Once it has been crossed, the “tracers” – the name given to parkour practitioners – go up the ladder and close the skylight. A limitless world opens up to them.
“The idea is to be as discreet and invisible as possible. If the neighbors see us, the mission is failed for us. Leave no trace, so they don’t even have the idea that someone has gone on their roof,” Charles Poujade told AFP.
– Will –
In the building opposite, that of La Samaritaine, several people were arrested when they saw them running, jumping, twisting across the roofs. A few centimeters from their feet, after an umpteenth double somersault, it’s a vacuum.
“At first I was dizzy. Well, not real dizziness but rather the fear of heights. We fight our fears, we face them and we work on them. I put myself two meters high every day, to stand upright without losing my balance, and I went a little higher every day”, underlines Poujade, who “flies a little on the roofs like the characters of films”.
A fan of parkour for fourteen years, Poujade trains exclusively on the ground and “climbs to the heights from time to time”. For four years, he has been taking aerial Parisian walks with his partner, Mélanie Buffetaud, and they are one of the rare couples to evolve together.
Still tender in practice, Mélanie Buffetaud, photographer, never tempts the devil and delights in the images that are 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 will want to capture. There is also the fact that it is a privileged place, you need skills to go there, you trust a piece of chimney, a piece of sheet metal, your supports. It’s zenitude, it’s Paris but calm”, confides this 27-year-old Clermontoise.
– Contemplation –
The duo, who recount their adventures and their way of life in a recently published book (“Voyous”, published by Michel Lafon), have made a name for themselves on the art of displacement scene with their two Youtube channels. (nearly 3 million subscribers combined).
One of their videos – a chase on the beach in parkour mode – totaled some 125 million views a year after its broadcast.
Since this success, they can finance all their projects, which they extend to sports entertainment; Poujade is one of the main and regular contestants of the game show Ninja Warriors and both were crowned world champions in 2019 of Chase Tag, a new sport which is akin to the game of cat and mouse.
On the roofs of Paris, Charles and Mélanie contemplate the beauty of the city one last time before sneaking back through the small window that brings them back downstairs.
Everything is put back in place, without noise or word. They go back down the stairs then open the door of the building onto the Parisian din.