Pari Roller: the World's Biggest Weekly Street Skating Event

Friday Night Fever for Inline Skaters in Paris

Pari Roller
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Pari Roller is the world's biggest weekly rollerskating event, taking place every Friday night in Paris. For three hours, roller skaters old and young glide through the streets of the French capital. The course changes frequently to keep things interesting, and there is no charge to participate.

Pari Roller's Roots

Today, Pari Roller attracts as many as 35,000 people per week, depending on the time of year. But it was much smaller when it began in 1994. The inline skating craze of the '90s was in full swing, and in Paris, a loose affiliation of skating fans came together to organize group skates. The official Pari Roller website describes those early days this way: 

"It was built on principles born of the street. At the time, a small band of skaters was moving in the city with the sole aim of the pleasure of gliding, the pleasure of encounters, the pleasure of discovery -- in short, the freedom."

The first gatherings attracted only a few dozen participants, but as word spread more people joined in. By 1996, the gatherings were averaging more than 200 people per week. Over the next few years, the event grew even larger, and the Paris police began providing security for the event. To keep things interesting, organizers began switching up the weekly routes, announcing them the day before each Pari Roller gathering. Today, "Friday Night Fever" as locals call it, lures thousands of people each week to the Montparnasse neighborhood where the skating starts.

Participating

Pari Roller starts at 10 p.m. each Friday night, weather permitting. Meet at Place Raoul Dautry in the 14th Arrondissement, between the Montparnasse office tower and the Paris-Montparnasse train station. Traffic is stopped, and the event is supervised by a staff of 150 Pari Roller marshals who can be identified by their yellow shirts. The Pari Roller lasts three hours with a break for wine or snacks before returning to Montparnasse at 1 a.m.

The route changes slightly from week to week but usually travels over 18.5 miles of roads through central Paris and along the Seine River. It costs nothing to participate in Pari Roller, but the organization that organizes the weekly events does have a few requirements:

  • All skaters should be able to go fast enough to keep up with the pack.
  • Good maneuvering skills are required for all participants.
  • Each skater should have the ability to come to a quick and controlled stop.

Pari Roller welcomes contributions (and new members) to help cover expenses as well as provide accident insurance for the weekly skates. 

Other Rollerskating Events

Pari Roller isn't the only attraction for skating fans in Paris. Rollers and Coquillages leads Sunday afternoon rollerskating tours of Paris. The group begins and ends its tours at the Place de la Bastille, and there is no cost to participate. If you're a hard-core inline skater, you might want to consider the annual Paris Rollers Marathon, which takes place every September.