For 56-year-old Henri Rechatin, better known in France as Henrys, there’s only one way really to see Paris. Climb to the roof of the Totem Tower, a 34-story luxury apartment building on the Quai de Grenelle, and bring a small table with you. Put four glasses on the table and set a chair on top of the glasses. Place two more glasses on the front edge of the chair, then put the back legs of a second chair on the two glasses. Now take a seat on the second chair and enjoy the scenery for a few minutes, keeping your balance and never thinking about the 426-foot drop to the river Seine below.
Admittedly this particular view isn’t suitable for everyone. It isn’t even suitable for Henrys’ wife, Janyck, 53—and she’s also a professional aerialist who once high-wired across Niagara Falls with her husband of 25 years. They met during one of his performances. “I asked for a volunteer to ride on my back and she came forward,” recalls Henrys. “She must have liked it because I’ve still got her on my back.” (Stick to acrobatics, Henrys.)
But she wouldn’t join him a top the tower. “This feat of his frightens me more than any because it’s so dangerous,” says Janyck, who watched as Henrys performed the stunt for a French TV show. “One’s life is hanging by a thread, and there’s no thread.” But Henrys, an acrobat since he was 5, doesn’t share her fear. “In this line of work you can’t be scared,” he says. “Apprehensive, yes. But not scared.”