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.
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.