Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Being a Flaneur in Paris

Being a 'flaneur' in Paris means strolling, walking and discovering. Edmund White, among many who've picked the subject, wrote a book about 'flaneuring' entitled The Flaneur - A stroll through the paradoxes of Paris. Taking off by foot on a journey without a map, a goal except the journey itself.
Here's a day I spent as a Flaneur without a map.

 Beyond Saint Sulpice I took a street to the right because it looked untraveled and for a quiet moment, deserted. Deserted except for Rimbaud's lines of poetry on the wall of what turned out to be the poem he'd recited at 17 years old
 for the first time in a cafe down the street.
 Walking slightly uphill the narrow street fronted the Jardins Luxembourg and the Musée Luxembourg's exhibit of Josephine - her world, her life pre+ post Napoleon.
 Her silk parasol and her tiny ribboned shoes.
 A cantata composed for her in a special musical evening at Malmaison.
 One of her Directoire chairs and probably used by N.
 And then without a compass found me on the right bank in a courtyard of a film production company off the Champs Elyseès.
 Later with a bouquet of roses at the cafe for my friend who'd just had a very, very hard day at work.
 After a few aperitifs, a blurry shot of Yves Montand on the wall at his old hangout Fouquets.
 Somehow seeing Tintin and Snowy in space suits pulled me into Artcurial, an auction house/art gallery/bookstore in the 19th century mansion off the Rondpoint and inside to a bidding war for paintings I couldn't afford.
 And then into the public library - yes an amazing library in an old mansion below Place de Clichy with fresco'd ceilings.
Even if you don't have a library card you can sit under the crystal chandelier and read today's paper or ELLE magazine. Are you ever a flaneur?

Cara - Tuesday


  1. Lovely pictures. Reminds me of Walter Benjamin claim that the flâneur was an unprecedented creation of modernity. In commenting on Baudelaire he wrote:

    "The crowd was the veil from behind which the familiar city as phantasmagoria beckoned to the flâneur. In it, the city was now landscape, now a room."

    Benjamin was both critical of the flâneur while himself engaging in flânerie himself while working on the Arcades project.

  2. Insightful comments Michael - I've got Benjamin's book will need to find it

  3. I think you scared Everett away. He probably thought you were asking "Are you ever a flasher?"

    I envy your walk down those streets I once knew. I soon expect to find a line or two of Aimee Leduc's wisdom mounted in places of prominence in every Paris arrondismont.