It’s hard to think of how Parkour and the French government could be totally in sync. But that’s exactly the case this week in France, as both have been pleading for the country to turn off the lights, but in very different ways.
Parkour is the sport where people cross cities in the fastest way possible, jumping and bounding over city infrastructure such as lights and barriers. But a group of young people have been using it to turn off lights around a French city—thought to be Montpelier in the south of the country.
The video on Twitter has been seen by over 6 million people and shows the group turning off the lights of major supermarkets, banks and a McDonald’s.
Newsweek reported that French and Anglophone viewers have been divided as to whether it is a good thing, and encourages pro-environmental awareness and behaviour change or if it is a bad thing, akin to vandalism.
Simultaneously, President Macron’s government is also asking the country to turn off the lights, as well as reducing the air-conditioning and cutting the wifi—anything in fact to reduce energy costs heading into winter 2022.
The rising costs of living, linked to the war in Ukraine, is a growing political bugbear for a president, who might have won a new five-year term but who doesn’t have a parliamentary majority on which to act.
France has been feeling the threat of rising energy costs particularly harshly recently, this week alone has seen some of the fiercest forest fires in recent memory and a monumental heatwave, shared with its European neighbors. Both have highlighted the impacts of climate change and the inevitably of using more energy to cool homes.
The French government is preparing for an eventual moment when Russia turns off its gas supply, which last year amounted to 40% of all European energy imports.
Whilst parkour has been integrated into mainstream culture, it has been seen as politically subversive at times, because the idea of moving freely across public and private buildings and infrastructure can sometimes rub up against the notion of private property, trespassing and damaging public spaces.
However, this is one rare moment where parkour and the government seem to be perfectly aligned.