The sleepy suburb of Lisses is widely regarded as the birthplace of Parkour. For years it has been a location that Traceurs have traveled far and wide to visit, and is covered extensively in Duncan Germain’s feature length documentary, ‘Pilgrimage’. The widespread circulation of videos of the original Traceurs put Lisses on the map for Parkour. When the art was only just beginning in the UK, the only Parkour content was a collection of French videos, mostly a series of David Belle videos which helped shape the early training schemes in the UK. These vidoes, and the areas shown that are in Lisses are iconic to Parkour. The staircase with the yellow walls, the school, the multiple drop down levels and of course, the impressive ‘Dame Du Lac’ structure that has is arguably the most recognizable ‘spot’ in Parkour culture. Climbing to the top of the Dame, has become somewhat of an achievement for a Parkour practitioner, due to the amount of people who have conquered the notorious obstacle. Whilst the places in Lisses are by no means a requirement to ones training, and many practitioners have no intention or need to visit, there is definitely a feeling of deep-rooted Parkour history in the area. Having seen these locations so often in videos and films, visiting them in the flesh is a strangely familiar experience.
One of the most surprising things about Lisses, is just how close together everything is. All the major spots can be visited within a 20 minute walk, if not less, and the Formule 1, the hotel which harbors almost every visiting Traceur, is virtually next to the Dame du Lac. This video by Duncan ‘TK17’ Germain shows one continuous run, where he moves through almost all the spots before finishing by climbing the Dame.
Evry is the neighboring area to Lisses, separated by a motorway, and is also renowned for its Parkour areas. The reddish ramps (its actually a laundrette) and the Manpower gap can be found here, as well as a selection of spots which are still somewhat unexploited to the Parkour world, and remain used purely for training and haven’t been filmed to any particular degree. Evry is a strange suburban area. It is surprisingly high-rise, but with a wealth trees, small areas much like Vauxhall in London, and grander buildings such as the large red church and its surrounding plaza. In turn, Evry is usually the first place a visiting practitioner will arrive in. Most come on the metro, and the train station is more or less opposite a very recognizable spot (I wont spoil the surprise!). Evry is also a key location for a visitor, as the BonMarche in Lisses keeps odd opening times, whereas Carrefour (french for ‘Crossroads’) is a huge superstore that goes on and on, and is also quite cheap.
During my visits to Lisses, I have always found myself gravitating back to the Dame du Lac. Something about it just appeals to me, perhaps the nature of its importance, perhaps the way it dominates the peaceful lake with its sandy orange brick. Either way, to me Lisses is a place where one can focus on why they may be choosing to move. Its not just another good spot to train on, there is something a little more special about it.