By Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS (Reuters) - Parisians are famous for their love of art, fashion, good food and fine wine, so obviously they'll jump at the chance to pay 19 euros ($22) an hour to throw an axe at a target on a wall.
At least Thomas Morel is hoping they will. He's a 30-year-old former financier who saw how much Canadians liked the sport, or game, or pastime, or whatever axe-throwing might be.
"And I told myself, this is bound to work in Paris," Morel said.
So he opened Les Cognees - French for "axes" or "hatchets" - where people can gather after work and pay to hurl heavy edged weapons around. What could go wrong?
Quite a lot, obviously, but safeguards are in place: no alcohol is served, the blades of the axes are blunted and security measures are read out to participants when they arrive.
And they are arriving. Morel's venue is in the city's north-east 18th district, a traditionally working-class neighborhood showing tentative signs of gentrification. On a typical day this week, it had attracted about 30 men and women in their mid-20s to mid-30s.
Some had come with friends and some, improbably, were there on corporate outings. For example, 29-year-old Antoine Verdier, a legal manager, and his boss, Camille Cocaud, had come on a team-building exercise.
"It's a great way to unwind after work," Cocaud said.
"It's a real melting pot," Morel said. "You get the young hipsters, you get companies on team-building, but you also get punks, you get mothers with children, you get families."
Morel's timing is good. France is trying to get more people to take part in sports, partly to promote the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
In fact, Morel can see a great marketing opportunity approaching, although some might say it's a tad over-ambitious:
"We want to make axe-throwing an Olympic sport," he said.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Anais Lebranchu and Charles Platiau, editing by Larry King)