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

Friday Night Fever for Inline Skaters in Paris

Pari Roller
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They call it Pari Roller. It occurs every Friday of the year, except in the case of rain or simply wet roads (slippery roads = danger), according to Pari Roller, the sponsoring group. Locals simply refer to it as "Friday Night Fever." It is one of the largest inline skating events in France--and possibly the world--a weekly spectacle that attracts thousands of participants.

Rolling History

The event, which began in 1994, draws as many as 35,000 skaters each week, depending on the season.

"It was built on principles born of the street," says Pari Roller. "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 ride is free and open to all those who know how to skate and control their speed. 

Police Involvement

In 1997, the French police become involved to ensure safety for skaters, motorists, pedestrians, and spectators. "Pari Roller remains an association totally independent of any commercial or political structure," says the group. "Its only essential interlocutor being the prefecture of police of Paris which, like Pari Roller, is responsible for the safety of participants and spectators." Some French police, wearing inline skates, actually participate in the tour. 

The event starts at 10 p.m. each Friday night, weather permitting. Skating starts 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, in true French tradition, a break for wine or snacks--and eventually returns to Montparnasse at 1 a.m.

The Streets of Paris

The boulevards of Paris provide a great setting for the event because the roadways are wide enough to allow large groups of skaters to safely navigate while maintaining their speed.

The roads are also smooth enough for a fast-paced glide. 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.

Participation in the event does have some 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.

Though the event is, indeed, cost-free, Pari Roller welcomes contributions (and new members) to help cover expenses as well as accident insurance for the weekly skates.