In Paris, the rehabilitation of the Cinaxe in a climbing room creates controversy

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The former dynamic Cinaxe cinema in the Parc de la Villette, in Paris.

Opposition wall

On December 7, the General Assembly of the French Mountain and Climbing Federation (FFME) voted in favor of a bank loan of 3.4 million euros to finance the rehabilitation of a cinema on the 19e arrondissement of Paris in a climbing gym. At the start of 2021, the sports organization won the call for tenders launched by the public establishment of La Villette for the redevelopment of the Cinaxe room. On December 8, upon the disclosure of the details of the project, named Karma Villette, the Union of climbing rooms (UDSE), a private union, cried foul in a virulent press release published on his Facebook page, on the grounds that the FFME comes to encroach on the private domain.

Climbing room

Between flight simulator and cinema hall, the Cinaxe was presented as a revolution when it opened in May 1991. Its cabin, with about sixty seats, mounted on jacks, moved to the rhythm of the actions of the films shown, sometimes In 3D. Due to lack of profitability, the hall closed in 2011. In 2016, while the FFME won a first call for tenders to rehabilitate the place as a climbing room, the government rather imagines it as a Cité des Overseas, a promise from Lionel Jospin during the 2001 presidential election taken over by François Hollande in 2012. A symbolic launch was organized in 2017, then the idea was abandoned. While waiting for its final tenant, Cinaxe becomes, in 2019, Cin’Halte, a night reception center for the homeless.

Escalating costs

Today, while the FFME is pleased to open a room close to Club France which will be located at the Grande Halle de la Villette during the Olympic Games in Paris, the UDSE denounces “Shameful conditions” of unfair competition. According to Benoît Heintz, vice-secretary of the UDSE, “The federation has access to largely favorable credit clauses to which we, commercial rooms, will never access”. The union, which represents 75% of private rooms, also judges the cost of Karma Villette scandalous while the hall is not suitable for hosting championships. “With this money, any reasonable entrepreneur would do much better. For example, ten small theaters in ten small towns not equipped ”, points to the press release.

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Equipment deficit

With only two halls for international competitions, France lacks infrastructure for a discipline yet in vogue. In fifteen years, the number of FFME licensees has doubled to reach 108,000 in 2020. “We never announced that Karma Villette’s objective was to compensate for the deficit of public equipment, supports Alain Carrière, president of the FFME. A climbing gym is a business and we need to diversify our income to grow. ” He promises that the profits will go to the licensees. In 2020, the federation paid 110,000 euros to communities to support the creation or renovation of walls. At the same time, the association plans to open other rooms. “Why would we forbid ourselves to make money? “, asks Alain Carrière.

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In Paris, the rehabilitation of the Cinaxe in a climbing room creates controversy