Nobody strolls like the French. They even have a special word for people who love to explore urban spaces – a flâneur. I am definitely a modern-day flâneur. There is nothing I enjoy more than exploring a new (or old) city on foot. If you really want to discover Paris, you need to be a flâneur!
Historically, the French flâneur strolled, lingered, or sauntered around the city discovering its every resident, neighborhood, and hidden alley. The curiosity to explore urban spaces as a detached but keen observer, as one would the deepest forest of a far off land, defined the flâneur.
The idea emerged in the 19th century and was a product of growth and modernization of cities, particularly Paris. It became a literary trope (Sherlock is a flâneur) and a defining characteristic and leisure activity for the male French elite. It is similar to the idea of promenading, but focuses less on displaying one’s self and more on discovering your surroundings.
Just remember, if you are going to be a flâneur in Paris, make sure you pack comfortable shoes — the city is deceptively large!
Where to flâneur in Paris:
My favorite places to stroll, or flâneur, are the Ile Saint-Louis and across the bridge to the Marais. Other delightful areas worth flâneuring through are Montmartre, from the Palais Royal to the Tuileries, down the Boulevard Saint-Germain, and along the Quai (the sidewalk along the river Seine).