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Paris Landing

Who says Big Games are exclusive to the States or Russia? Believe it or not, paintball trench warfare also sometimes happens in France… in this case, in Melun, just 40 km away from Paris. A beach landing like no other.
By Thierry Bazerque/Photography by ROM123
The site was called FDP, and those crazy organizers managed to recreate a life-sized landing. For this event, more than 200 players were expected. When we got to the site at 9 AM, about fifty players were already there. Jean-Noël Péché (FDP organizer) had told us about this site and kept us in the loop as it was being built. We were all as excited as 12 year old kids, all trying to imagine what this field was going to be like. There were going to be four landing boats, trenches, bunkers… the game of a lifetime. But as we got out of our cars, we realized how wrong we had been. This site was unreal, so much better than in our wild expectations. On a gentle slope 360 feet long, 4 boats were set down on the sand, facing a well-protected beach, including 3 concrete bunkers overlooking the landscape.

Between the boats and the bunkers, Czech hedgehogs, hundreds of sandbags, over 500 yards of trenches. Some players were walking the field, overjoyed with happiness. As for us, we decided to wait and discover the field as we were playing—to make it even more realistic.

Only an hour later, more than 100 cars were parked, and people still kept on coming. The different teams and squads were meeting up. We joined our own squad, the Gnoux, and we were by far not the only ones who arrived with a small army. Many other associations and regional teams were present. Everyone got together, trying to find people they knew for the long day of play ahead. FDP had anticipated this and the largest squads were split up in each of the 3 different teams that were to fight in this arena.

The idea was quite straightforward, there were 210 players, 70 players in each team: The Blue, Green and the Orange team. Each team would have to hold the beach as long as possible. Two assaults were planned. Players had to take the beach as fast as possible in order to decrease the score of their opponent.

For the first wave, the green and orange team were pitched against the blue team. The players were bubbling with excitement, the late players were getting their gear together as fast as possible; some ran to pick up their paintballs, others were yelling because of troubleshooting with a marker and everyone was hurrying to put the right armband on their loader. We were in the safe zone, in high anticipation of what was to come. Then, players were allowed to enter the field and get into the 4 boats. Thirty-five players entered the one we were in. About 140 players were going to launch an attack on the beach, joined by 2 medics and 1 bomb expert.

In the boats, the atmosphere was insane, players were yelling to get everyone motivated. Each group started to sing, to the rhythm of the players’ feet, stomping on the boat. It was like Julius Caesar sending his troops out. FDP really did a fantastic job. A DJ was starting to mix, while another technician got ready to switch on the smoke machines.

We were about to land, and for us, French players, it was a premiere and we were going to give it everything we had. Each one was trying to get an objective to complete. The beach was broad, really large. Where were we supposed to go? That was the major question we all had. On the other side, behind sandbags, in the trenches, a well-protected team was waiting for us.

The siren, the horn, whatever it was—a giant sound let us know that the game had just started. We rushed out of the boats yelling, a rain of paintballs coming down on us. Everybody ran towards the obstacles, to get cover, players were looking for one another, shouting, each one hoping to find his group.

At the same time, the DJ was playing music using the sound of a Zero fighter plane hedgehopping. In this hell—worthy of Spielberg—we were trying to find our team, not even counting on the referees who, while there to oversee the game—grab the cheaters and solve problems—were also throwing firecrackers at us!

We were blocked behind a fence for 5 minutes, it took us 15 minutes to reach the last defenses before the first trenches. The first trench was 10 meters away from our position. The rest of the Gnoux team caught up with us. The different groups could be seen gathering together on the beach. The assault was about to be launched once more. FDP kindly included a smoke grenade per player in the price of the game. The curtain came down, without any coordination, players threw their smoke grenades to stop the opponents from seeing them. We didn’t go much further than the smoke screen, no sooner had we jumped in the first trench that we got out.We hurried back to the boats, because when they are full of players, the assault can be launched again. And you better believe us, the boats were getting filled up in less than 5 minutes.

Controlling the first trench took more time than expected, 3 assaults. But we rushed back as often as we could and we were never alone. But in the trenches, it was quite another story. Sometimes, the trenches were man-sized, sometimes hardly even 5 feet, and that was considerably stressful. You shouldn’t try to look up at anything, or that’s a hit right between the eyes.

The danger came from everywhere, you had to keep track of what happened before and beside you—in short, playing alone was a quick one way ticket to the safe zone.

In the trenches, it was kind of like Verdun, each centimeter taken was characterized by heavy losses. Our opponents controlled the path, but we were gradually fighting up to the bunkers. It took us more than 20 minutes to reach the first bunker. And then the opposing team was pushed back. Once we forced their defenses we were just pushing them away. Victory was ours. The orange team had taken the beach.

But it was midday and the game stopped for the lunch break. Everyone gathered around, talking about the battles just lived and giving their overall feelings about the entirely revamped site. As for what happened to us, two things stood out in the game: the excitement when rushing out of the boats against incoming fire, and the uneasiness of making our way through the trenches.

After this first game, we took the time to recon the field. The bunkers were awesome, not a single nail could be seen out of the buildings, and the trenches, in spite of the violent assault, were still in good shape. Surprisingly, the same thing could be said about the sandbags. The quality of this field was really impressive. Facing the boats, I could imagine what our opponents had seen: 140 warriors running towards their barricaded positions. I couldn’t wait to be part of the defending team to get their experience. Just one hour later, it was time for another attack. The first game let everyone know about the strong and weak sides of the field. Our attack plan was clearly on the left and right flanks. But how could we stand united playing on a field 360 feet wide. You could only hope that a player could see his mate jumping in the first trench. This second game was more fluid than the first one. We were focusing our attention on the flanks, the Squads were playing with smaller teams and even walk-on players, who really enjoyed following us during this assault.

3 PM. The last attack was being prepared. There we were in the trenches to defend our base. This was an intense moment, seeing the attackers getting into the boats, just in front of us. We put down our marker, just to look at the scenery. Players were yelling, we were planning on a defense line where everyone had to take care of his teammate. A mobile group would alternate between the two flanks that had to be protected.

To make sure we hit a player that landed, we waited for him to run for about 30 feet. We took our position in our trench and picked them off. There was an eagerness to take the fight to them one last time. The game-on alarm sounded. It was amazing to see them run towards our defenses, shooting anywhere and everywhere. Now we understood what the first defense team must have felt like. We had to stop a huge wave from crushing into our position, and stopping them from reaching our last defense line on the beach before they got into our trenches was our main objective. You constantly have to switch with your teammate, when he is done shooting and has to reload, it is your turn to shoot at the incoming players. There is a 30-second window without covering fire. We tried to stand our ground. We had noticed that during the two other games: fighting back meant a sure loss. This wasn’t going to happen to us. This way, we held the trenches for 20 minutes before the first line was taken. And then we were done. We tried to contain them into the first trench, where it’s much harder to duck down. We held the bunkers another 10 minutes before being flunked out of the beach into the forest and surrendering.

We were really disappointed. Not because we lost, but because it was the last game on this impressive field, worthy of a movie set. About 400 square feet of pure action, 1000 sandbags, 500 meters of trenches, about twenty referees, a DJ, smoke machines, and players who were really fair play. Everything that makes up good scenario paintball in France was there, from great equipment to great weather.

But the party wasn’t over, and this unforgettable day ended with loads of gifts. Dye offered a PMR marker as well as other smaller presents.

For a long time, France has been jealous of the fields and events that take place in the US, or up in Canada’s Bigfoot site, but it seems that Europe is getting its own, realistic scenario paintball site.

The organizers have big plans. Today, they are setting up the FDP TOUR, with 4 events, in different types of facilities. That can only mean good news for European woodsball.


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