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My First Paris: Lindsey Discovers the Art of the Stroll

Bonnaf

I don’t think anyone would dispute that the French are the masters of leisure and purveyors of refined hedonism. Meals, apéros, discussions, and strolls are all to be conducted tranquillement – without haste and with an utmost respect for life’s little pleasures. With a vast selection of renowned terraces, parks, shops, secret passageways and charming cobblestone streets, it’s no wonder their capital city ranks highly for a laid-back kind of lifestyle.

But for Paris neophytes, particularly those accustomed to a far more hurried pace, this leisurely style is a bit of a head scratcher and is my most vivid first memory of the city. When I first arrived in Paris, my legs only functioned on two speeds – fast and faster – and this immediately perplexed my husband on our first date.

Was I in a rush? Trying to escape him? Neither, really. I was simply conditioned to stride with purpose, leaving aimless wandering for rare occasions or to aid in digestion after a heavy meal.


Couple strolling on rue Montorgueil (Lost in Cheeseland)

My feckless attempts at regulating my speed made us both chuckle and helped to abate all visible signs of first-date butterflies.  With a winsome smile and blushed cheeks, he reached for my hand and pulled me back toward him to match his gait.

Where’s the fire? We’re enjoying ourselves”, he reminded me. And that set the course for the rest of our 8-hour date.  As we walked from our rendez-vous point at Odéon, through Luxembourg Gardens, and eventually winded our way through the 2nd to rue Montorgueil for a cheese plate, I began to understand why the French have a word to describe the very act of strolling.

Flâner - the French term for stroll which was developed further by Baudelaire to  reflect “a person who walks the city in order to experience it”. Paris is absolutely a city that must be walked to truly imbibe its splendor.

LittleK stop by the corner

Even as the New-York sense of urgency and speed has begun to infiltrate the city – with a surge of take-out restaurants, greater willingness to eat on-the-go and an overall faster pace of life-  the French have yet to drastically change their habits.

Spending hours nursing drinks at the latest hipster hangout or cocktail bar falls into every Parisian’s weekly schedule. And that same priority is given to leisurely strolling, whether along the cobblestone-lined banks of the Seine or up and down the highly frequented shopping streets.

I have since learned to adapt my pace to a more Parisian speed but will always remember with fondness those early moments of discovering Paris à pied with baby steps. Because really, unless there is a flash sale at Hermès , why rush?

Lost in Cheeseland

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Written by Lindsey Tramuta for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Lindsey Tramuta

Lindsey TramutaLindsey Tramuta is a Paris transplant from Philadelphia who fell in love with a Frenchman and moved to Paris. Cliché, right? Her blog, Lost in Cheeseland, covers some not-so-cliché topics and uncovers some aspects of Paris (or France, for that matter) that you might not already know. Through food, travel, love and obstacles, she experiences life in France.

Website: Lindsey Tramuta - Lost in Cheeseland

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Posted in Parisian Living | 23 Comments »

23 Responses to “My First Paris: Lindsey Discovers the Art of the Stroll”

  • nita says:

    Loved this post! I still have trouble adjusting to the slower pace here, despite having been here for almost 3 years now!

  • Mandy Louren says:

    I absolutely loved Paris and its relaxed lifestyle. Planning to go there again this summer. :P

  • [...] her move on her lovely blog. Oh, and she wrote the nicest post on the art of the Parisian stroll. We’re working on it as you read [...]

  • Lelaina says:

    Interesting point of view. Being French, we always feel that we are running everywhere in Paris while people do take their time in “province”.

    It is true though that we enjoy long lunches, dinners and “flâner”. The pace is nothing like the one in New York but it certainly is quite fast and not really relaxing, compared to any other city in France, especially when you use public transport and live around central Paris.

  • Lovely blog Lindsey.
    Nice pics and well written post. You really picked it. To behave like a true Parisian, the first thing to do is to stroll the streets (Rue de Bucci is my favorite). I live in the US today… I love it but I still miss things from my natice country (France) such as these strolls with stops in a café to enjoy an espresso or a kir :-) Cheers !

  • Vicky says:

    I had the same experience when I came to Paris. Loved your article and the pictures :)

  • Flâner is absolutely one of the best things one can learn in Paris. You captured it beautifully!

  • Nicole says:

    Love this post! Such a beautiful way to experience life by simply taking your time to do so. If this is the French way then let’s hope it catches like fire across the pond :)

  • Diane says:

    Most of all, I loved your images – they captured the feeling one has in Paris – sunlight streaming across rooftops, shadows. And the breadth of humanity – old folks, lovers, young families all dressed for city life in Paris.
    Merci,
    Diane

  • Lindsey says:

    Liren – thank you for your sweet comments! Slowing down no matter where we are in the world is always good practice!

  • Liren says:

    Lovely, Lindsey! It always amuses me how my friend nod approvingly whenever I return to NYC and can keep up with the frenetic pace. They’ll say, “you still got it.” But really, it is so nice to learn how to slow down, to stroll, and to savor. I loved that last photo of the old couple – I hope that is me someday!

  • Lindsey says:

    Thanks for all your comments, everyone! So glad the post resonated with you =)

  • Mercredi says:

    J’aime beaucoup ce blog. Je découvre des choses sur ma ville, je vois différemment, c’est marrant.

    On flâne, on se balade, on traîne un peu…
    Bonne journée.

  • Stephanie says:

    Love being a flâneur! Though I can relate to Susan’s comment – I hate it when I get pushed off the sidewalk because someone is walking with killer speed straight through my path! But those are rare moments.

  • Wish I had found your blog earlier….leaving for Paris on Monday. Will be up all night devouring your beautiful yet informative posts!

  • Bryan says:

    Relearning to walk after living in NY…it’s a weird concept, but it pays off in the end. I still catch myself taking long rapid strides when I don’t need to and I quickly adjust.

    Todo, I’ve the feeling we’re not in New York anymore…

  • Karena says:

    Lindsey,

    I think it is a most wonderful concept, actually way of life, It would be good for all of us to take heed, and slow down…..

    Do come and enter my Designer Pillow Giveaway!! (Also a great resource)

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

  • Jasmine says:

    Aw charming :) Very nice blog! Jasmine

  • Christine says:

    Ahhhh yes! Wonderfully said–and brings back fond memories of strolling along the Seine or through the gardens. How I miss Paris!

  • Risamay says:

    It is indeed a task to get most of us Americans to slow down and [actually] enjoy exploring Paris at a leisure clip, on foot! Lovely read.

  • Tracy Wilson says:

    It’s different, isn’t it?
    When I moved to Savannah, GA from Maryland, it took me MONTHS to adapt to the slower pace here.
    Then I spent 2 years learning to stay in pajamas on Sundays…
    I love this place, but I would enjoy Paris too, lol.

  • Susan says:

    Beautifully written Lindsey…and I find that there are two speeds in Paris…leisurely strolling, and get out of my way speed walking! On certain streets you have to either speed up or get out of the way…but it does seem there are many places in Paris to just stroll and enjoy. I look forward to doing more purposeful strolling next time ;)

  • As a New York City gal, I, too, have a purposeful stride. That’s why I love Paris. It doesn’t force me to slow down. It INSPIRES me to slow down. There is, after all, so much to see in Paris. I can’t imagine all the things I’ve missed seeing or discovering in New York because I’ve rushed by them.

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