Words: Stuart Gomez
Photography: Jelle Keppens
Paris, the romance capital of the world—a city that is synonymous with rich sauces and floppy berets—was the setting for Volcom’s latest fantastic voyage. The city and the company share a special history: last summer’s top-shelf revamp of popular skatespot, Place de la République, has been a massive success; the company installed ledges, granite Volcom stone centerpiece, and banks, and held a contest at the famous plaza, cementing their Parisian legacy in the process.
But the occasion for the team’s visit in June was a much more casual affair. The boys were already in Spain (attending La Kantera Pro), and decided to pop in next door and say “what’s up” to France (there are no borders in skateboarding).
The crew is known worldwide by their nicknames—Axel Crusher, Louie Lo, Provider, Doobie, and Salmon—but in case you’ve been living under a stone, they are Axel Cruysberghs, Louie Lopez, Collin Provost, Victor Pellegrin, and Eniz Fazliov, respectively. The freedom to crisscross Europe would not have been possible without the incredibly capable team-wrangling chops of Jake Smith, a jake of all trades who enables the Volcom crew’s exploratory experimentalism (if you’ve seen True To This, then you already know what I’m talking about) by absorbing all of the—gulp—“planning” and headaches. Skateboarding thrives when rules are thrown out the window, but when the window is closed you need Jake. You’re the man, Mr. Smith.
Collin Provost, frontside feeble.
Documenting the trip were Lannie “Just Some Dude” Rhoades, Ant[hony] Travis, and Jelle Keppens. The Volcom aesthetic was in full effect, except for drone footage: in light of current events, the eye-in-the-sky was left in the hotel room (best to keep it low-key for this mission).
The whole crew was guided by the voices of Vincent Auque and Vins Coupeau. A good guide can make the trip. In the regional parlance, it’s the difference between an amuse-bouche (small, bite-size clip) and a prix fixe menu (a feast for the eyes). Volcom’s weeklong jaunt in Paris is a perfect example of this dynamic: instead of piling in the van and driving from spot to spot, the crew opted to, you know, SKATE!
You see so much more at street level anyway. On your board, you’re trained to keep your eye on the road and your phone in your pocket. Undiscovered gems down this or that alley, or even the odd Franc or Euro fluttering near the gutter. And the girls—Paris is a place to see and be seen, leave the car in l’garage.
Axel Cruysberghs, 50-50 pop over.
Vincent and Vins were invaluable as they steered the boys in the right direction throughout their stay, but even the most seasoned guides couldn’t have anticipated Louie’s opportunistic Gare du Nord station Smith grind (as seen on the cover). Deemed an impossible spot to session, the station is one of the biggest transportation hubs in the capital. It was a cruel, sadistic twist (hey, Marquis de Sade: a hometown hero!) to place Leandro Erlich’s ultra-alluring transitioned sculpture, Maison Fond (or, Melting House), smack dab in the middle of a scrum of commuters. Somewhere, Marquis de Sade is laughing, among other things.
Weather is sadistic by nature, and it really got its ya-yas out this week. The dudes became reverse storm chasers by necessity. Suddenly they were all amateur meteorologists, and everybody’s phone was clogged with the latest weather apps; routes were revised and clip quests were cut short in the interest of dryness. A top-down view of the crew’s travels on a typical day had the look of a Family Circus cartoon with little Billy doing figure-8s all over the neighborhood.
When it comes to the forces of nature, skaters need to adapt or die tryin’. “We bought a squeegee and towels so we could just dry the spot real quick and get the trick,” Jake says. “Then we’d see the clouds coming in again. This happened every single day!”
Victor Pellegrin, kickflip.
In these situations, the traveling skater has no other choice—it’s high time to visit the local brasserie for a couple of beers. It is a combination work/vacation trip, after all. It’s all a big waiting game, and it’s out of your control. So just throw a few back, scan your apps, and keep looking to the stars. Or try again tomorrow. C’est la vie.
The Skateboard Mag's issue 162 is out now.