VEGA Skate Shop's Insights Into Paris' Skate Culture

We discuss skatepark disappointments.
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VEGA Skate Shop is a key player in the Paris skateboarding scene, located at 18, rue Louis Blanc in Paris 10. They offer top-quality skateboards, clothing, shoes, and accessories. Run by a team of passionate skateboarders, VEGA is dedicated to meeting the needs of every skater, whether you're a pro or just starting out. They stock a wide range of mainstream and underground brands, so every skater can find gear that suits their style. Here's what we learned about Paris' skate culture by visiting the Paris store in person for an interview with Ben the soon-to-be Co-owner.

Ben, ready to sell you some Parisian VEGA merch, 
and VEGA shop owner François in the Dime hoodie.

How long have you been running the store?

The store started back in 2011, so it's been around for 13 years.

Are you the owner?

He's the owner with the other Co-owner (points at François who's working on a board). I'm in the process of buying the other half from the other owner. So come back next year and I'll be the owner. I'll be the other half of the fam.

What's your name?

I'm Ben, this is Francois. Yeah. François the bossman and Ben the guy behind the counter.

How did you get started with the shop?

We all met at the skate park down the street around 20 years ago when they built it. Manu and Rémi, got this place going and opened up the shop for everyone who skated there. We used to hang out at the park and became regulars at the shop he opened. When Rémi wanted to leave in 2019, François bought his shares and joined Manu. Now Manu is considering leaving and that’s why I might be the one to replace him.

Now we serve the new generation of skateboarders in Paris as we get older. Maybe, in 20 years, some of them will take over the shop.

We still skate a lot, though. Everyone who works here skates too. We're big supporters of the Parisian skate scene. We even have our own team, boards, and a classic shop vibe. We do it in a way that feels like our vision of skateboarding. That’s why we go on tours, try to film, and put out edits regularly. We also try to support the scene by helping riders out and every event organized by skaters.

"All the skate parks in Paris suck."

What's your favorite skate park in Paris?

Well, you can mark that in your magazine. All the skate parks in Paris suck. 

Our favorite might be Jemmapes, as it’s located 2 minutes from the shop and it’s where we all met. But to be honest for a city like Paris it is super tiny. The only real skatepark for us is Cosanostra but it’s in Chelles (77), about 45 min from the shop. 

What about Espace Glisse Paris 18? 

I'd rather cut both of my legs than go skate there. This park was designed by a drunk and blind man. Have you been there?

Yeah, I liked it a lot.

Did you actually skate it?

Yeah, the bowl section was nice.

The bowl may be the only part. That's okay. Everything else is crooked. The roof is leaking, so when it’s raining, you cannot skate.

The park got a positive review from me.

Oh, but don't worry because everybody got a good experience over there. But only once. If you come back there a second time, you realize how crappy the design is.

You want the full story? The old mayor of Paris commissioned that park because he wanted it to open before his term ended, hoping it would help him get more votes. But the park wasn't finished when he left office. They rushed to open it for a grand ceremony, but then they had to close it for six months to fix the roof. The roof leaks, and the park costs about 1.2 million euros.

It's surprising to spend so much on a park when the neighborhood lacks basic facilities like schools and shops. This part of Paris is a mess, and they built a huge skatepark there. The design is chaotic, with all the street parts crammed together. There's no flow; everything feels crowded.

For instance, there's a grotto at the entrance, and if you miss anything, you end up at the inverted pyramid, which is a mess. Every five minutes, someone nearly falls because of the layout.

To make matters worse, the park is managed by City Hall, so you can only skate there at certain times. Annoying.

I feel like that's everywhere in indoor skate parks.

Oh no no no. That's the only skatepark in Paris, but it's a mess. The best skatepark we have is the one they make for the Olympic Games. But it's still a shame. It might be around for a few weeks, but then they'll tear it down again.

In Paris, we've got awesome street spots. So if you're looking for skate parks, Paris isn't the place to come. France is way behind in skate park facilities. So yeah, nobody really goes to Espace Glisse. Maybe kids. And people who have no other options.

Years back, I used to go there just to skate flat. Today, I'd rather not skate than go there. Could you imagine building something that expensive? And I'd rather not do what I love to do instead of using this facility. 

There were a lot of people when I went.

Yeah, but those who are just starting out with skateboarding, they might not know any better. They think it's normal. But it's not okay. The quality is just not acceptable. It feels like a joke, honestly. I know a city in France with only 20,000 people, and they have a better skatepark than this. It doesn't make sense.

So yeah, let's not talk about skate parks in Paris. 

François: Yeah in terms of cities with good skateparks you can look at cities like Bordeaux or Malmö. But we can’t complain as the whole city is skate-friendly, you rarely get kicked out. And we have plazas like République or Bastille that are more like street spots and that are great to meet or to end the session.

"Don't bother with skate parks in Paris, go skate street instead."

What would be a positive round-up?

Don't bother with skate parks in Paris, go skate street instead. I mean, why would you go to a skate park anyway? I like to think of skate parks like painting in coloring books, you know, painting by numbers. Just go skate; you don't need a skate park.

In Paris, we're pretty lucky. The ground is smooth everywhere, and the city isn't that big, so you don't really need skate parks. There are plenty of good ones outside of Paris. But here, the city is just too beautiful. Why would you confine yourself to a skate park when you have the whole city to explore? It just doesn't make sense, even with Paris being such a beautiful place.

A skate park is just for chilling with a beer after you've been skating in the street. But hey, that's just me. I'm almost 40, so maybe my perspective is a bit outdated.

Thanks for the chat guys! 

Shop VEGA skate shop online or visit  the shop next time you're in Paris:

VEGA Skateshop - Magasin de skateboard
18 Rue Louis Blanc
75010 Paris, France

Photography © DOSE Skateboarding 

The DOSE Paris Skate Shop Series:
Part 2: Nozbone Reflects on 20 Years of Skateboarding Culture
Part 3: A Visit at Arrow & Beast Skateshop in Paris

Related: skateboarding , skate culture , Paris , street spots , paris skate shop series , Vega Skate Shop , skate parks .