Tête de mule - Stay_K - two weeks in France
Article by Christos Yiannaki
Photography by Tony 'Tzo' Josephides
Additional photography by Christos Y.
Tony's 5050 by Timmy Michaelides
One of the souvenirs I'd brought back from France was a good heel-bruise. Assuming that it was gonna cost me about a month to get back on board, I thought I'll have plenty of time to sit down and write all these experiences from the trip to Lyon and Paris, organize them in my mind cause they were so many for two weeks' time, and then record them on paper. Although injured, it didn't wear me down even a bit, since my injury happened on the last day / last session / last trick. Yes, I landed the trick and then hit a sudden stop. So, no bitter feelings there or whatsoever.
I only had to limp my way through Paris center for a couple of hours, the only amount of time that we allowed ourselves to go shopping after two weeks of "hardships". Tony joined me, as he acquired his own heel-bruise, couple of hours before mine, from battling a 9-stair handrail.
Passing from the imposing Eiffel Tower felt like it was probably making fun of our limping and our not having the time at all to enjoy Paris in all its poetic and historical glory. Cause of... skateboarding. Haha, we got you there mr. Eiffel. Please, consider that this wooden toy - as well as the creativity that explodes thru it - runs in our veins and it is my whole life, passion and pleasure. I don't want to speak for the others - Tony, Tasos, Timmy, Mandilas - but I'm pretty sure that we share about the same feeling. We've been given experiences of places and amazing people, feelings and ambitions, through skateboarding, like no other "hobby" could've done. Same in France. Adventure and good spots are always there. You just have to seek them. That's what Stay_K is all about, even at times when skateboarding isn't so popular, nothing can change our lifestyle and mindset about living that life day in day out.
Tasos - Benihana, HDV
Chapter 1: Lyon
Well, from the spots that a skateboarder has to visit when in Lyon, cause of their history or their uniqueness, we managed to get to Hôtel de Ville and Fleurieu DIY. You see, there is a part of both cities that'd make any skater appreciate them. It's the French sidewalk. Personally, I felt the urge to kneel on, caress and kiss these wonderful sidewalks, being used to the awful bumpy ones in Cyprus. We quickly discovered, from our first joyful ride, that we'd start for a spot and never reach it, cause of all the kinds of good spots on the way. And I don't mean to make it sound like a curse. Actually, there's no better compliment than that. All these never-seen-before for us gems popping up at every turn in such a short distance from each other that we could film them in a line. These were our first impressions from Lyon center; and the fact that it spreads between and along two rivers finds you crossing bridges or moving next to the rivers occasionally to go from spot to spot. A beautiful city for skaters, once a mecca for European skateboarding. Maybe these are reasons enough.
Before we get more into our experiences in Lyon, I wouldn't like to skip the fact that we arrived from Larnaca to Paris late at night not knowing we had to pre-book train tickets days before. We realize, it's a 6 hours ride to Lyon by bus, where we're supposed to stay on the first night. We had to stay in the capital and were lucky enough to find an airbnb at 11pm. Now, we had a place to sleep, get some rest after the flight, see what the next day would unfold.
What can I say? Every Stay_K tour is an adventure and, whatever the planning, things don't always turn out the way we expect. But, we're now used to it and kind of prepared to take advantage of every experience, good or bad. Second day, we accepted the fact that we had to travel for six hours on the road (500km). Good thing, there is a skatepark next to the bus station - shitty one if you compare it to other French skateparks, but who cares at that point, even if every corner smelled like piss - we managed to get something out of the long "waiting" hours before the bus ride.
Christos Y - BS Smith Grind to kick off the tour, next to the bus station
Tasos - FS Stalefish Grab
"Skateboarders being like vikings, with the captain always first to the warfront".
About the above-mentioned iconic spots: Hôtel de Ville, we skated twice. Fleurieu DIY, 7th day of the trip, being too worn out to skate it much without a day of rest inbetween, it was time for Juju (Julien Bachelier, the owner of Antiz Skateboards... and our host for the six days we stayed in Lyon, but we'll get to it in a bit) to take over the reins and kill that beautiful DIY skatepark. "I'm at home", he responded to our jaw dropping from watching him non-stop for three hours. A 44 years-young skate rat hitting every spot at the park, especially the china bank, with his deep bag of maneuvers and OG style.
BS noseblunts, FS noseblunts, ten Melon Grabs with a pop and tweak the proper way, Shove-it Noseslides, a thousand FS and BS Tailslides on the china bank, and more were on the menu. I'm sharing this daydream with you: Skateboarders being like vikings, with the captain always first to the warfront. There you have it, Juju is that guy and it means motivation. Together, the locals put out a show.
Juju - BS Noseblunt Slide, Fleurieu DIY
Juju - Tweaked AF Melon Grab
As you probably noticed by now, we won't dip into this chronologically.
Third day of our trip, and there's an event at the Antiz Skateboards Headquarters. A special occasion, since it was the first time a party like that would be happening there; but especially for us, who came all the way from a small Mediterranean island to make the best of it and take back home plenty of inspiration.
We knew we wouldn't party so much in France, in general, goal being to skate our best and gather footage, use rainy days and non-skate days to rest so that we could do it better. So, we were body, heart and spirit in the moment at that Antiz HQ special happening. A jazz band playing among screen print machines and shelves with hundreds of skateboards - for lively local skateboarders, enthusiasts, family and friends. All good characters. It wasn't at all hard to have a connection. Couple of beers later and few jazz jams in, we were already clinking our glasses shouting both "cin-cin" and "γεια μας", all in one sentence. For in the skateboarding community, you know it, there hasn't been such thing as "locals only" for many decades. Just locals in spirit. It's all love!
We had conversations and heard stories, for example, about skateboard legends like French Fred, by his wife (we were few minutes late to meet him, because we were out skating when the party started); or about Thanos' bail on this gap to rail at HDV, by Juju's wife who took Thanos to the hospital with a broken skull [https://vimeo.com/110562258]. We'd seen the spot that same day and is just psycho, to say the least. What else? We introduced Zivania, which was supposed to be a gift for Juju's hospitality, but apparently there were holes on the bottom of our glasses so it emptied quick (we owe you one Julien!). We danced. We cooked for the last ones standing. Shout out to the Chef, Quentin! He just kicked Mandilas out of the kitchen and took charge. For the rest of the tour, Mandilas was a main kitchen-man haha.
The plan for the 2nd part of the event was a Best Powerslide Contest the next day on a downhill outside the building and a small "skatepark" setup in a basketball court next door. The rain changed the plans, but the Powerslide Contest did happen, with some of the locals, including the Chef wearing a GX1000 "Bomb Hills not Countries" tee and his friend Paul, shredding the wet tar. Risky, but you can say rain helps powerslides.
Quentin aka the Chef and his friend Paul on a risky wet downhill, just outside Antiz HQ.
The smooth operation of that 2nd part of the event wasn't the only thing interrupted by the bits of rain that caught us in Lyon. Two of my tricks were. On the same day, too. On that day, damn, it felt like somebody was watching me from above and as soon as I got close to a trick he'd pour some on us just to play. And I'd challenge him, heads on.
First, it was at a nice photogenic structure, at the side of the road, that served as a Wallie over a gap. After screwing around a bit with the boys, I started trying a Switch Wallie. Couple tries later, I was sticking it, while it'd already started pouring. I kept skating as the rain got stronger and stronger. Timmy was in it with the camera and I was like a duck. I landed a sketchy one. Not being exactly pleased, I kept on going while the run-up was becoming very slippery. I stopped only when hail started and the spot was 0% skateable. We headed back to the HQ kind of defeated by nature.
Same day, just before midnight when everything was dried up, we went out again. This time we headed for the famous volcanoes that Tom Penny skates in the legendary "Flip-Sorry" video. Here, I'd like to mention that the cactuses on top of the volcanoes are concrete fakes. Our whole reality collapsed right there, haha. After admiring how beautiful the spot is, with its street quarter pipes of different size, we started for the more serious tricks. And again... while I was sticking a trick I wanted a lot to do, rain started. This time, the run-up got slippery so easily that I couldn't try my trick after a minute of rain.
Next day, I had to force myself to be social and really part of the company, after two of my sessions were ruined. This only lasted until I made my next trick, a Wallride at a most sketchy DIY quarter pipe to wall. At this DIY skatepark that is located next to a famous kinked hubba, the quarter pipes are half destroyed, the flatground is rough and... it's dirty, really dirty. To add up to the scenery: It's the hangout place of junkies, their "toilet" being 5 meters from the quarter itself, hidden below that famous hubba. What exactly do the junkies find there maybe you can ask Tasos who was skating next to their spot, a miniramp that fortunately overlooks the river. At my dirty spot, from bailing, my palms were ripped open and it's fair to say that I'd never felt so disgusted of myself.
Christos Y - crusty Wallride Indy Grab out
After this DIY, we decided to revisit the volcanoes. Tony wanted to film a line at some rails outside the building, which he did successfully. After that, already just before midnight, the volcanoes were calling, despite the exhaustion. I told the guys that I wasn't so sure about it. It was the Wallride battle, then filming Tony's line for two hours. I knew I'd reached my limits. We had to, though. We were already there. I could almost hear the volcano charging to burst and turn the whole block apart. So, we went. I had about 100 tries in me and I was done.
That night, back at the HQ, I seriously got the shivers! The shivers you get from fever or too much anxiety. I got them bad. It was the first time that something like that'd happened to me, or anyone I know in fact, due to exhaustion. I admit, it was really scary and whether I was gonna be ill the next day stressed me out. Thanks to the boys that treated me with blankets, hot teas, and some dry food, I was alright. Next day, I woke up soaked from fever while sleeping, I assume, but it was all good. All I needed then was a day of rest to feel fresh again.
I'm happy to let you know that I made the trick at the volcanoes. Not the best execution, but it happened, got it on video to remind me all that. It's here that the quote "know your limits" fits. One that followed us throughout the tour: not to be cautious not to surpass them, but to be conscious if we did, be ready for the consequences, prepared for rehab.
What else did we see at the place of our kind host in Lyon? We got to meet the first ever French vert pro, named Bruno Rouland. Crazy guy who carries with him the 60s Dogtown era "Fuck You" attitude, in a good way. Open to talk with us for a lot of stuff. For example, how he publicly showed the middle finger to nike and vans that pushed him to buy, when he used to own a skateshop. He even invited us to his vert ramp for a next trip, haha. I don't know what we're supposed to do there... Maybe chill on the flatground and bbq? while he blasts some Airs over the lit charcoal and souvlaki? Check him blasting some FS ollies at his home vert ramp at 57 years old in the link: [https://www.instagram.com/p/ClgrdCEADVx/]
Chapter 2: Paris
Our days in Paris were much more mellow. Only a couple mishaps, like accidentally breaking an automatic shutter at our airbnb. We were so bumped thinking that it'll cost us 500 euros, everything being more expensive in Fr than Cy, we'd even thought to call someone to fix it whatever the cost to avoid a possible backfire from our host. You see, when you're making bad scenarios for no reason. In the end, acting logical, we told our host and he was super kind to come fix it, which was quick and easy for him, completely cost-free.
Mandilas was there to welcome him. They even sat down afterwards over some tea and biscuits that Mandilas offered, maybe from the host's own supplies. Haha, kidding. If you know him, you know how he is. Especially after the locals' own kindness and good vibes during the trip, he was probably returning the vibes. One of the subjects they'd talked about was skate spots. The host, without having any knowledge of skateboarding, suggested us legendary spots like Palais de Tokyo. One we knew was a must but didn't make the list in the end.
"It feels weird right now. I wish someone would kick us out so that I can feel like an underdog again, haha".
You know who else legitimately suggested us spots to skate? A cop. The only person who kicked us out during the whole tour. We were skating a monument, so he suggested some plazas nearby and he even said sorry for having to kick us out! Know that when on tour, we are often like a bat mob. We skate late at night and, inevitably, we find ourselves in residential areas at those times. Well, nobody had been kicking us out. At one point, we were like: "It feels weird right now. I wish someone would kick us out so that I can feel like an underdog again, haha".
Tony - 5050
In Paris, we stayed in the suburbs. But the capital, same as Lyon, is never short of spots. Too tired to get to all these trains and metro for downtown? Or only have that much time to skate because of rain? No prob. There's a spot or a skatepark nearby. The beautiful sidewalks help to discover them.
Another thing we did, we'd take free rides with the tram (thank you and sorry Paris city) and as soon as we'd see something interesting, we'd jump down and take it from there. Usually, it wasn't more than 2-3 stops. Then, for the next spot, we'd either jump back in the tram or move by skates, cause everywhere there was the scent of skate spots for our skilled noses to catch.
Thankfully, we had Tasos and Tony who, in their mid-20s, have the energy to take advantage of each and every day of a two-week tour, all of these skate-friendly places that pop up on each turn without even looking for them. Seems like, over there in dream-land, they just come and find you, the perfect spots for the moment.
Some walk next to them without even noticing.
Some eye them differently and see possibilities.
Tasos jumps off a building with an Early Grab.
Peep how tall is this thing.
Seems like every time we plan a new tour we make sure that it'll have more destinations, last more days than the previous one. It's a fact that you need those couple days of rest in-between to keep producing. Then, it's the obvious. You feel like a kiddo on a day at the beach. You never want it to end.
We can safely say that our tour in France had everything a skate tour ought to have:
✔ Lots of skateboarding. That being the main goal, we were prepared and thirsty for it.
✔ Great and hospitable locals, who we shared stories and new experiences with... and Zivania from home.
✔ A skate event at the place we were staying with even a live band playing.
✔ Another concert that didn't quite work out as planned, but that's another story.
✔ Meeting the most OG vert pro skater from France.
✔ DIY skateparks, both clean and dirty.
✔ Shivers and fever from exhaustion, because of too much skating and spot scouting.
✔ Anxiety from losing trains (but not our way) at a completely new enviroment for us.
✔ More than good times; inspiration, knowledge of where our influence comes from, ideas that we'll eventually really bring back home.
Last but not least, for better or for worse, as a crew we must have this attraction to adventure. What else can a skateboarder ask for? Well, maybe to get rid of a few years, responsibilities, and injuries from their shoulder to be able to skate all day / every damn day again. Until we work a way around that, we enjoy and absorb what the moment has to offer in the present with, obviously, a lot of skating and friends involved.
The famous stairs that Boulala almost Ollied and Jaws Melon Grabbed.
Unfortunately, there was an event or something in the building, so the security guards didn't let us go anywhere close to see how they look from on top. Next time! They must look mindblowing.
Antiz Skateboards HQ "Museum" section.
"even when you feel bad about what you are doing, stay focused on the future and all the ??? you are going to make." Fill in the blanks, I guess.
A lot of history in their shelves.
Antiz is a brand that's been around since early 2000s.
Baptiste aka the Drummer w/ a bluntslide thru the corner and
Julien w/ a Nosebluntslide.
Many special thanks to Antiz Skateboards for their hospitality in Lyon.
#Skaterowned Core to the Bone.
The tour took place on 20/04/23-03/05/23.