Lisses is a quiet and calm little town located about 40 km (25 miles) south of Paris. It is also generally regarded as the birthplace of parkour. Lisses is home to almost all of the founding fathers of parkour such as David Belle and Sébastien Foucan. Along with Yann Hnautra, Frédéric Hnautra, David Balgogne, and Kazuma they became known as the Yamakasi. And I guess you could say the rest is history.
The Journey To Lisses
I originally did not intend to visit Lisses. I was on vacation in France for spring break and my birthday was coming up. I was staying in Nantes with family, and that made it quite difficult to arrange any sort of trip to Lisses. My flight back to the U.S. was on Tuesday and that meant I had to be at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris early in the morning. Luckily I found a friend that lived in Paris to let me spend the night there. This allowed me to go to Paris one day before my flight opening the door to a variety of options. I could either spend my whole Monday wandering like a lost tourist through the beautiful Parisian streets (don’t get me wrong, Paris is lovely and there are some really neat places to train), or venture into what some people refer to as the Mecca of Parkour. Most people would have gone with option A. I on the other hand, went with option B. One thing is for sure, being fluent in French made this journey 1000x easier. For those of you who can’t speak the native language, make sure you know exactly where you are going before hand. I just kind of went with the flow of things and asked a lot of people a lot of questions. If all else fails try speaking English, everyone in France can understand it to some degree, if not then resort to charades or better yet learn French.
Getting to Lisses is extremely difficult if you don’t know where you are going and extremely easy if you do. I’ll to to be as descriptive as I can in explaining how to get there. I hope that with my trip information even a monkey will be able to get to Lisses.
NOTE: Before you start your trip, I highly recommend that you buy a “Mobilis” pass. You can get it at any station in Paris that sells tickets. Just go to the information desk and ask for a Mobilis pass from Zone 1 to Zone 5. This will cover all the area from Paris to Lisses and everywhere around. For about 20$ you get can get on any bus, any RER train, and any subway for a whole day by using that one card. Trust me you want to get this, that way if you get lost you won’t have to keep buying new tickets.
Step 1: Getting to the Châtelet Les Halles Station
No matter where you are in France, this is where you first want to go. If you are coming from Northern Europe you will most likely end up at Gare Du Nord (North Station). Just take the B line (RER) to Châtelet Les Halles. If you land at CDG Paris Aiport you can also take the B Line (RER) to Châtelet Les Halles. If you are somewhere else just pickup a map and figure out how to get there.
Step 2: Getting to Évery
Évery is right above Lisses, the station you want to get to is called Évery/Courcouronnes. The RER that gets you there is the D line (green). Be careful though, there are a bunch of different D trains that take you to the wrong places. The one you want to get on has a destination of Malesherbes. That should take you right through Évery/Courcouronnes, which is where you want to get off at.
The picture above should show you what stations you should be seeing before your destination. Also before you get on a train, check the monitors right above the tracks, it should show the order of the stops and should let you know if it’s the right one or not. Below is what that looks like:
If you got off at the right stop you should now be in Évery! When you exit the Évery/Courcouronnes station you should see this weird looking church right in front of you. If you don’t go back inside and find the exit that has this interesting structure facing it.
Right when you exit the station take your first left, it should be a small and short brick alley. After that take the first left again and walk down that main road. There are a few nice places to eat there but if you keep walking for a minute or two you should be able to see this on your right:
Yup, that’s the infamous man power gap. I found this by mistake but when I did I became very excited. This is the gap that David Belle first jumped. Since then I know a few more people have done it and one guy, Peter Spoelma, jumped it from a standing position. Here is a video compilation of the man power gap.
There are so many great places to train at in this part of France that I wish I had more than half a day to explore it all. If you come here I highly recommend that you at least spend a full day or two looking around. If you find a local traceur then props to you because that will make your experience a thousand times better. I was not so lucky but still managed to find some key spots on my own.
Step 3: Getting to Lisses
Now that you have had some fun roaming Évery and staring at the man power gap wondering if you yourself could jump it, head back to the station you were just at. The next step in getting to Lisses requires taking a bus. Good thing you got a Mobilis pass right? There are two buses that take you right to Lisses and more specifically,the la dame du lac bus stop which is situated at the entry to Lisses. Bus 453 (Towards Imprimerie Nationale) and Bus 405 (Towards Hôpital) are the ones you want to get on. They should be found on bus Track B in the Évery/Courcouronnes station.
If you get confused or lost just ask the locals, they should be more than happy to help. You should be fine by yourself though, especially if you grab a map that shows all the bus, RER, and subway routes. Anyways, once you take either the 453 or 405 bus don’t forget to get off at your stop, it should be called la dame du lac. If you are the only one getting off at that stop don’t forget to press the stop button that is found all over the inside of the bus. Once you get off you should see these signs nearbye:
You can even sort of see the two bus stops on the left and right behind the sign. This is where you will get dropped off. Walk a little up the road (away from the Lisses sign) and you should see this:
From there it is just a 3-5 min walk before you get to where you are going, La Dame du Lac. You will be walking in residential areas for a bit so make sure you are courteous towards the residents there. Try not to parkour on their property. When you arrive you will feel this rush of adrenaline that will increase the closer you get to the structure.
Now the fun starts. Try not to get in trouble with any officials though. I was there for an hour or so and right when I was going to make my final ascent to the top a worker at the park asked me to come down. It was better him than the police though. You wouldn’t want to get stuck with a big fine trust me. I hope you all enjoyed this guide/replay of my trip to Lisses. It would be silly to visit France and not get a chance to witness La Dame Du Lac, and all of the other parkour goodies that Lisses has to offer. I will post more pictures and videos later, but for now this should do.