” Me ? Are you sure you want to invite me? I asked, a bit panicked, over the phone. Already that I do not climb in the dizzying attractions of Disneyland Paris, paralyzed by the fear of heights, you can imagine that the idea of doing indoor free fall, I was far from ready. But I still accepted the invitation from Vico’s Monster Munch brand, which was organizing an unusual event this week around the launch of its new range of ”Crazy” tiles. The meeting was set for Tuesday morning at iFLY, Porte de la Villette in Paris.
The biggest in Europe
Over there, at the very end of a new shopping mall but deserted since the Covid crisis, at -1, stands a giant transparent tube 14 meters high. The biggest in Europe. Gloops.
“I’ve done it twice already, it’s nothing at all. I don’t know how to explain the feeling, but it’s totally safe, and the instructor never lets go, don’t worry,” one of my aerobatic buddies explained to me before I took off running. I dread having the impression of falling, of having my breath cut off by the power of the wind tunnel, of climbing too high. “Not at all,” she assures me. “You’ll see, it’s almost disappointing compared to the idea we have of it”. Words that are not enough to change the mind of another of our comrades: “I know myself, I’m dizzy, I’m not going to make myself sick”. She withdraws. Replaced at short notice, so there will be 7 of us getting laid… and only girls!
180 km/h on average
Aurore, our instructor for the day, welcomes us, briefs us and equips us: protective glasses, helmet and blue jumpsuit. We tie our laces well, we take off all our jewelry, we put down our smartphones and off we go for two flights of 1.51 minutes in this tube which propels the air at an average of 180 km/h. “But it varies depending on the size,” she tells us. Of course, our exploits will be filmed by the internal camera.
One by one, we take place in an airlock in the shape of a tunnel. The blower starts. Very quickly, we no longer hear each other speak. She will have to mime gestures to make herself understood: two fingers in a V shape to straighten her legs, one finger in the air to lift her chin and look straight ahead… And us? Thumbs down to stop if something is wrong. “When you come home, you put your hands up and let yourself fall, I’ll catch you,” says the trainer with a benevolent smile.
Go on. I go second. The one before me has a smile from ear to ear. It’s my turn. Strangely, no feeling of emptiness. I breathe well, through my nose, no need to open my mouth. I try to maintain my position. 1.51 minutes is short and long at the same time. After falling as hard as I could, I grab the door with my hands to find solid ground… with a bit of relief. Phew! Even if it’s rather easy – the activity is open to children from 5 years old – one of us will not make it to the end of his first try.
The “fly up”, the most magical moment
In the second, I am more relaxed. I can’t wait to go there, that is to say. Aurore teaches us to turn left or right with our hands, to move forward, backward, up or down depending on the position of our arms, legs or back. The bravest will even do the “fly up”, a small tower in height with it in the tube! Clearly the most magical moment for them.
Once we have all passed twice, and our instructor, accompanied by an accomplice, has given us a high-flying demonstration, we can get out of the tunnel. The experience was mind-blowing, in every sense of the word: I have tangled strands of hair that stick out, ”Mary at all costs” style, the mark of the glasses printed on the cheeks as a bonus.
We laugh about it… afterwards
“Remember to drink well during the day, the wind tunnel tends to dehydrate us” advises Aurore, who never ceases to compliment us during the debriefing. Before leaving, it is possible to view, and buy, the video and the photos immortalizing this adventure. Between the antics in flight and the deformed faces, we laugh at our prowess, when we weren’t leading off an hour before. But little advice from a girl: remember to take a hairbrush to avoid having Cameron Diaz’s hairstyle when you go out!
iFLY Paris indoor skydiving, open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., 30 avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019 Paris. From 44.90 euros for both flights.