When people ask me for advice about what to do when they go to Paris I have no problem suggesting museums, restaurants, sights and shopping. Paris has so much to offer the tourist and resident alike. I always say, take the Batobus, go to a concert at Sainte Chapelle and meander the Marais.
But my favorite and best advice is to “Be a Flaneur.”
What’s a Flaneur? Well, that’s a distinctly French term for someone who meanders the streets looking for inspiration…..
Flaneurs can be seen all over Paris, killing hours in its scenic cafes and strolling aimlessly along its beautiful boulevards. Flaneurs happily make doing nothing look like an honorable activity.
Edmund White coined the term in his book, “The Flaneur.”
He wrote, “Paris is a world meant to be seen by the walking alone, for only the pace of strolling can take in all the rich (if muted) detail.”
The French called the “walking for the pleasure of it” as flanerie and someone who does it a flaneur.
Back in the mid-1800s, it was actually became fashionable to walk a pet turtle to set a slow space.
So, why do I advise “walking with no purpose other than to be stimulated by your surroundings?“
There’s so much to see. Surprises. Stuff that will make you smile. Walking in Paris is not about getting from here to there. It’s about enjoying the journey.
Here are some of the fun surprises that I recently saw in the glorious City of Light.
Don’t you just love this romantic and happy couple posing and kissing in Place Vosges? If you haven’t meandered this romantic spot in Paris, get yourself there on your next trip. Plan to spend some time.
It’s the world’s first purposely designed urban square, marked by precise symmetry and French charm You will love resting and people watching. Eating. And a fabulous spot for great photos.
I love the fashion on the streets. This is not a city that embraces Casual. Ever since Louis XIV established his court at VerSailles it has been a city to “see and be seen.”
Even on a rainy day, Paris is a city to enjoy. This is Rue Montorgueil, a traditional very old street market that reinvented itself as a Hipster Food Court. Great spot for lunch. Rainy or no.
Wowy, zowy, another sight on a rainy day…..This guy didn’t care about the weather. I zeroed in on him in the Marais, my favorite area in Paris. (To read more about this part of the city, click here).
And what is this outfit all about? Hmmm. I’m thinking it must be a bachelorette party. Why else would some one meander the Marais in this get up? I should have asked.
And my favorite thing to do when meandering Paris…….look up. Always something to see.
If you are intriqued with the idea of being a Flaneur, be sure to read John Baxter’s book, “The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: a Pedestrian in Paris.” And do share your thoughts, memories and experiences in the comment section of this blog.