Meet the high flyer who leaps across Paris

In his latest video a French freerunner presents a view of Paris you’ve never seen before and probably never want to, when he turns the rooftops of Paris into his own personal obstacle course. He tells The Local he feels safer up high than on the streets below.

Meet the high flyer who leaps across Paris
Missing the ledge could end in a potentially fatal fall. Photo: Simon Nogueira

The video titled “How I see Paris” shows fearless athlete Simon Nogueira clambering along the roofs, jumping from wall to wall and hanging off ledges far above the streets below. 

Thanks to a Go-pro camera wedged between his teeth, he offers viewers the chance to catch a glimpse into how he usually views the City of Light. Don't be surprised if you feel the need to cover your eyes, such are the high risks he takes.

“This is my daily life, I spend an enormous amount of time on the roofs,” the athlete told The Local. “I feel safer when I’m high up. The only person that can hurt me up there is myself, I can only fall if I lose focus. On the ground, you’re exposed to a lot more that is out of your control.”

Born in a suburb to the south of Paris, he was first drawn to parkour and freerunning when he was 13 years old after viewing videos of the sport on the Internet. Quickly figuring out that the movements weren’t quite as easy as they looked, he started practising, first by himself and then with friends. Only a few years on, he has become freerunning champion of France and can’t get through a day without honing his acrobatic skills.

“It’s not like a sport where you go to a club to practise. It’s a lifestyle. I feel like I’m constantly practising. I can’t walk down the street without jumping over a barrier or something,” he said.

Simon Nogueira above the Paris skyline. Photo: Zenzel Photographie

Nogueira filmed “How I see Paris” around Place d’Italie in the 13th arrondissement in Paris, an area he knows well. Instead of attaching the camera to his head, he had to hold it in between his teeth to make sure it wouldn’t fall off while performing his stunts.

Although the video was shot at heights where one false step could result in serious injury or even death, Nogueira walked away from the shoot with only a scratch on his finger.

“I hardly ever get hurt,” he said. “Injuries happen in the beginning when you start practising and exercising your body. It’s similar to learning how to ride a bike. After a while you don’t fall anymore.”

The shooting of the fast-paced video took him one week. For the perfect take of the last dizzying scene, which shows him landing on a narrow ledge with the Place d’Italie way below, Nogueira needed 46 attempts.

“It seems dangerous but my body knows the distances perfectly well,” he said, adding that he prepared for the video by mapping out the route meticulously, and practiced intensely on the ground.

“Nothing is done without a great deal of thought,” he said.

Freerun involves a lot of acrobatics. Photo: Florian Bernard Photographe

Nogueira is part of the "French Freerun Family", a collective of professional athletes practising the sport and participating in international competitions.

by Simone Flückiger

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