This season, Avenue is celebrating all things French. In this special series, we’re interviewing prominent French and Francophone New Yorkers, to speak on what they love about their adopted city.
For someone who has made his career on a bicycle, New York City’s shutdown provided a unique opportunity. “It was crazy,” says Matthias Dandois, an eight-time BMX flatland world champion. “I had New York literally for myself… like in Vanilla Sky, when [Tom Cruise] is by himself in Times Square — it was exactly the same.”
In flatland, unlike other forms of BMX that include ramps and jumps, riders come up with creative, freestyle tricks and choreography on a completely level surface. The sport has taken the Paris native across the globe. He only recently settled in New York, where he has several French friends, a few years ago.
“Moving to New York City was kind of a brain opener because something different is happening every day,” he says. “Especially riding BMX in the street, you [always] meet someone different, interesting, crazy.”
Dandois (who has had the “I ♥ NY” logo mixed with “BMX” tattooed on his inner wrist for about 20 years) is a resident of TriBeCa, and enjoys lower Manhattan features like Battery Park and the volleyball courts along the Hudson River. But if there’s one thing he and his girlfriend — model Constance Jablonski, another French expat who has called New York home for 12 years — particularly enjoy, it’s stand-up comedy.
“We spend a lot of time at the comedy club,” he says with a smile. “Right now it’s closed. But I can’t wait for it to open and come back. Hearing those guys cracking jokes… we will need that.”