Paris is without a doubt one of the main cities you have to visit at least once as a skateboarder. Well, I guess, for obvious reasons, the same goes for normal human beings as well. But in our world this metropolis is literally covered with unique and excellent street spots just as probably the smoothest sidewalks in the world, and you always feel the history the streets breathe on a daily basis. Skateboarding is big in Paris, hence to the given opportunities it consists 95% of street skating though. But starting in October last year Belgian company Concrete Flow had the chance to add some transitions to the ever growing skateable terrain in form of a pool and bowl in the suburb of Nanterre on the west side of the Seine.
Nanterre is experiencing a big upgrade in city planning at the moment and the skatepark we were about to build was to become the center of a big new park area located on a tunnel of a highway. So for weight reasons we couldn’t use dirt or gravel for the ground works and had to cut the trannies out of styrofoam which can be fun for a day or two, cutting your way through big blocks of styrofoam with chainsaws. But after six weeks of doing that you bet everyone was definitely over it. And I won’t mention that when we were almost done with the cutting and the setting of the coping we had a little fire that destroyed like a fifth of the bowl area which put us at least a week back. Looks like styrofoam and welding don’t match too well at times, we found out the hard way, not that we didn’t know before… Would be quite a cool band name by the way: Excellent Accident…
Anyhow, with two two-week-long breaks in between due to minus degree temperatures, we pretty much spent four months in Paris and had quite a few different people working on site, so the after work hours never got boring. At times I wish they would have and in the end we were all happy that it was finally over for sure. As usual the french general contractor was a super pain in the ass to work with and tried to rip us off more than once, that goes for the suits and not for the workers, of course. There was quite some tension going on which reflected in our group dynamic more than you could ask for, but in the end everyone was happy and proud of what we had accomplished. And, I reckon, we did the best we could under sometimes harsh conditions and can be quite proud of how everything turned out.
Especially the bowl – it’s one of a kind. Being not too deep, it features lots of little unique details and gimmicks that should keep the fun and challenge for locals and visitors alike for quite some time. So it was a super big bummer when the only chance for a first session before our final departure was rained out and the only dry spot to skate was the back wall of the extension. But we will be back, of course, and I’m curious how everything will look in summer when the whole park is finished and green from the newly planted trees and plants. The surrounding park itself contains numerous brand new spots, like all the ledges there have metal edges, so this area should become a great spot and hangout for skaters of all types and ages. On your (next) mandatory visit to Paris you should definitely check it out, it’s well worth it.
Double thumbs up and cheers to everyone who showed up to work on this, some for just a week or two and some for three months and more, I love y’all: Mikey, Pierre, Janno, Conni, Sam, Thierry, Charlie, Dieter, Duri, Alex, Baum, Koekie, Ratman, Slouri, Boob, Juan and, of course, Mr. Betonpompen himself Art-Jan Boogaart. Thanks to Fernand and his crew from Cegex and Julien from Sports des Villes for making this happen, and a big cheers and thank you to the skaters of Paris, especially Lisa Jacob and Igor Fradin, who showed us some great hospitality and a special time in general. Hope to see everyone sooner rather than later, my knee is all good again, I wanna skate your city with you guys!
So another chapter of Concrete Flow is in the books and I’m just about to leave for the next one. Looks like with global warming in full effect there is no winter break anymore for our business in central Europe. If this is a good or a bad thing I can’t really tell, but it means there’s even more skateparks popping up nowadays, so it can’t be that bad, I guess. I’ve told you before and will again even though I don’t have to at all: Skateboarding is and always will be No. 1! Enjoy it while it lasts…
Text and photos: Arne Fiehl / Overview shots by Mike van der Ouderaa
Photos from Mike van der Ouderaa
Nanterre park Hoche
Location: between Avenue de la république, and Avenue de la Commune de Paris and Avenue Hoche and Rue Bbréguet, in Nanterre, Paris.
Original design: Sport des villes, Julien Bouvier, interpreted by the team.
Built by: Concrete Flow skateparks… Naturally!!