Grigny (France) (AFP)

Grigny, a small town near Lyon, has nothing in common with California.

Except skateboarding: failing to have seen it born like the American state, it has recently housed the only French museum dedicated to skateboarding.

Its founder, Dimitri Jourdan, 36, exhibits more than 600 collected since his adolescence, whose motifs can show Mao or Marilyn Monroe in Warhol style, a crazy parody of the Last Supper, skulls or a drawing "Je suis Charlie" .

In the beginning was the roll'n'surf: the story - or the legend - has it that American surfers, in need of sensations when the ocean was too flat, had the idea of ​​fixing the wheels of roller skates on wooden planks.

Surf the asphalt.

In the fifties, it also appeals to children and crafts, production becomes industrial with a first brand, Roller Derby.

And an innovation: clay wheels, no longer steel, made it easier to practice - before the urethane wheel revolution in the 1970s.

Dimitri Jourdan, here in his house-museum in Grigny on September 17, 2021, exhibits more than 600 skateboards JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK AFP

Dimitri Jourdan presents in his museum, since June, some of these antique skateboards among his collection, one of the most important in Europe - there is only one other museum of its kind, in Geneva.

This Lyonnais has been skateboarding since his teenage years and collects everything related to his passion: boards, wheels, "trucks" (undercarriages), helmets, knee pads, magazines.

Without forgetting an American goose game around the discipline, and quantity of derivative products.

By dint of accumulating pieces, he had the idea of ​​exhibiting them in the vast basement of his house, with a very vintage decor, rather than storing them in boxes.

"I targeted the big brands and their cult boards", explains this former employee of a sneaker manufacturer very popular with skateboarders.

Dimitri Jourdan in the middle of his collection of skateboards in Grigny on September 17, 2021 JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK AFP

On its walls: models of Santa Cruz and Powell-Peralta, two historic brands, or those of Tony Alva, one of the legends of the discipline, who made himself known by playing in empty pools - the first "bowls" - as shown in the photos on display.

From the 1980s, the practice exploded and became global, professionals appeared, such as the Americans Tony Hawk or Natas Kaupas, signed contracts with manufacturers, and the graphics of the boards became a commercial argument.

Some series are thus conceived as puzzles to be reconstructed, others are used as support for scratch game tickets;

in 1992, a mythical board was sold in an opaque bag so as not to reveal its secret illustration.

The most curious fans will find a copy in Grigny.

© 2021 AFP