How to Flâner like the French

When people ask me what I like to do in my free time in Paris, I have to think before I answer. My first response would be “what don’t I like to do in Paris? I like everything!” and more or less that is true. But when I think about how I regularly spend my free time, one French word in particular comes to mind — flâner.

Paris Rendezvous

I suppose in English the closest word to flâner that you could arrive at would be “stroll”. But as many people find with foreign languages, sometimes there isn’t a particular word equivalent that fully captures the intended sentiment.

The French dictionary defines the verb flâner as “to walk without haste in full abandonment to the spectacle of the moment, to linger in inactivity while in movement.” Would you expect anything less poetic from the French? To flâner is a truly French way of spending ones time, a way of going about your day and enjoying life at a peaceful pace while simply letting life happen and watching it delight you.

Sometimes you set out to flâner a bit to pass the time, and other times it just happens. Paris is a city made for flâneurs and flâneuses! Everywhere you go there are little shops to marvel at their window displays, parks to pass through, friends to cross paths with, strangers to meet, and beautiful details for your eyes to feast on.

Aside from setting out on foot, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to try to flâner like the French do. Give these a try and I think you’ll love incorporating this little French habit into your life…it is the perfect way to enjoy your city, get some exercise, and find inspiration!

Stay open minded — Talk to new people, visit different shops, turn unexpected corners. Keep an open mind and you never know what amazing things you will find!

Take the time — It is best to flâner with an abundance of time on your hands so you are free to pursue all that intrigues and inspires you while walking around your city. Never rush!

Travel light — The idea is to flâner footloose and fancy free, for you to be light in spirit and on your feet. So, don’t bog yourself down but carrying too many things with you.

Don’t look at the map — Follow only your heart and curiosity and you’ll see that with your eyes up, you’ll always find your way to new and wonderful things. It is not about going from Point A to Point B. Proverbially speaking, it is the journey and not the destination.

Wear comfy shoes — Comfy doesn’t have to mean ugly! There are many chic shoes in which you can walk miles and miles. Make sure to pick a pair that won’t have you turning back home because of a blister.

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