February 15, 2013
Whenever I return to Paris, it always takes me a few days to get settled and realize that I am actually here. A while ago, Tory wrote a post on how she knows she’s in Paris, which inspired me to think about the signs that tell me I’ve arrived.
Everyone has their own Paris; a few special haunts and pleasures that always make returning to Paris feel like a wonderful indulgence. I’ll bet most regular visitors have certain things they always do and see as soon as they hit the ground. I arrived here a few days ago and like clockwork, these seven habits kicked in.
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August 4, 2010
Flâner has always been one of my favorite French verbs. The dictionary definition reads “se promener sans but précis” (to walk without a precise goal). Since aimless wandering is basically my raison d’etre in Paris, I appreciate that the French have a word dedicated to the act.
But here’s the kicker: they don’t have just one word for it. My thesaurus indicates that flâner has twelve synonyms. TWELVE synonyms, all of which convey the idea of slowly walking for the sake of walking. I’m the first to admit that walking rules—in fact, I do it quite often—but twelve synonyms? Surely the French have crossed the line into excess.
But no, my friends, no! Spend some time in Paris and you will quickly understand how many different types of strolling there are—I would argue that twelve is, in fact, a vast understatement. In addition to flâner, we have déambuler (to stroll), errer (to march here and there, at random), se promener (to walk oneself… as if you were your own French bulldog), vagabonder… you get the idea.
And in addition to the twelve official ways of walking, I’ve developed a few of my own “walks” that don’t yet seem to have formal labels:
The backwards walk. This comes in handy when I need to head east, but the Eiffel Tower is doing its sparkling thing, so rather than turn my back on it, I just walk backwards until it’s done, trying my best not to stumble off a bridge.
The “I’m not lost” walk. Naturally, I do this one when I’m lost. The key is to walk really slowly so you appear to be flâner–ing (just taking it all in… nothing to see here), but really you are retracing your steps, or turning in circles, or wondering if that’s the same Franprix you passed twenty minutes ago. It’s ok; wherever you’re going, you’ll get there eventually, and in the meantime, you’re lost in Paris. How romantic!
The walk of NO shame. The sun is up, and yet, having hopped from bar to bar, I have not yet gone home for the night, and my outfit now seems highly inappropriate. Rather than running for cover, I simply stroll through whatever open-air market I come to, eying the produce like the savvy early-morning shopper I am pretending to be. (Then I buy a baguette and eat it in bed before I fall asleep for the rest of the morning). Continue Reading »
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