My Eurotop Tour 2009

3rd day: Paris Sans Balles!


The 12th Paris Juggling Convention at Belleville took place the weekend after my arrival. The name of the festival, "Paris 100 balles" has double meaning, as 100 = "cent" sounds like "sans" and the expression "sans balles," I was told, is used for things that are free or freewheeling.

Lapin and Jim, a.k.a. Académie du Beau Geste, did an elaborate and entertaining show on the history of the yo-yo, from antiquity to modern play. They followed it with a top demonstration and then called me to the stage.


That night was the festival's public show. The place was decorated with balloon sculptures. I was included in the program doing a solo spintop exhibition: it was my third show in as many days in Paris!

Sigy le Châtel - making tops





I said au revoir to Paris and drove 4 hours south east to Sigy le Châtel where Philippe has his workshop. It is a little medieval village nested in the beautiful Bourgogne countryside. It even has the ruins of a castle at the top of the hill. On the picture my rental car (put more than 1500 miles on it) is parked in front of Philippe's workshop. He gave me the large house on the left to stay overnight.

Philippe is a true artist of wood, with a love for tops. Here he poses with Figaro.


Philippe has a small workshop connected to a room where there is an exhibit of the tops he has for sale. The variety and originality of his tops is remarkable. Probably because he used to be an engineer, most of his tops have an unusual mechanical twist.

He asked me which kind of top I would like to see him turn and I chose a very long one that stands up when you hit it with your finger and one with trapped rings made from the same piece of wood. He showed me how he balances each one by drilling holes in them (he is not satisfied until the balance is perfect).



When I offered Philippe to show him some tricks he said he needed to call somebody else who would probably like to see them. From there it snowballed until we also had people from another village coming, including every kid many miles around.

Philippe's wife is a great cook and it was a pleasure to eat the locally grown food, including from their own garden.

Philippe gave me a book he wrote about his life philosophy: "Tous Artistes". In it he proposes transforming the pursuit of power over others into power over oneself. "La recherche de l'équilibre passe par un révolution sur soi-même." Life without a passion is like a top not turning. Society should be based on art (defined in a very broad sense) made with passion ("vie-toupie"), not for money.


A surprise was the small theater he built in the basement of the house where I stayed. There he gives once a week a show to tourists on the history of wood turning. On the picture it is him in a costume. On the right you can see an Egyptian lathe.

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