“a person who walks
the city in order to
experience it while
remaining a detached
|Le Flâneur Extraordinaire
Walking Every Street in Paris - One Block at a Time
We returned the next winter, and then the following year bought an apartment nearby on rue Houdon. We continued to
travel, but Paris became our base; more than a base, our home.
Trish and I love to walk, but especially when we are in Paris. For fun I started putting colored lines in our pocket book
copy of Paris Circulation.
During a summer visit to Amsterdam, another great walking city, and smaller than Paris, I decided to try and walk and
see every street in the 'grachtengordel', the old part of the city. Discovering the nooks and crannies proved to be a
surprisingly pleasant and rewarding experience.
When we returned to Paris that fall, I decided to see if I could walk all of the streets in our area, the 9th and 18th
arrondissements. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long, especially as I had already filled in many of the streets from previous
walks. While not as small as Amsterdam, Paris is not a large city, especially compared to those in the United States where
the car is king. I found that one can walk across Paris in less than a couple of hours.
That’s when I had my crazy idea to try and walk every block on every street in Paris. With Trish’s support, I began my
more methodical walks in September, 2007. It is now a year and a half later and (with eight month's off while traveling) I
am more than 80% finished.
Susan Sontag in her 1977 essay, On Photography, describes how, "the camera has become the tool of the flâneur."
This photo gallery is the result of my observations while walking the streets of Paris. I hope you enjoy it.
I’ve been in love with Paris, or at least the idea of Paris, since I was a child. The first history book that illuminated my
imagination was about the kings of far off France.
I was an eighteen year old backpacker when I first saw Paris. I had never been outside of California – few people
traveled in 1961 – and Paris was (and is) magic. I remember lying on a bench on the Pont des Arts, looking up at the sky
and singing to myself “I Love Paris!”.
I next came to Paris at twenty-one and briefly studied at the Sorbonne. Then, after a year spent wandering abroad, I
returned to California and became swept up in the challenges of life: marriage, children, building a house and makng a
living. After “retiring” forty years later, my wife, Trish and I sold our home and set out to explore as much of the planet
as we could. After several years of wandering we stopped in Paris for a week. Our hotel room was tiny, the November
weather was rainy, cold and awful – and we fell in love with Paris.
We decided to look for an apartment for a month, found one in Montmartre on rue Andrew Gill – and stayed for four
Paris has evolved over centuries and millennia. It is a complexity of Rues, Squares, Boulevards and Avenues; as well as
smaller Passages, Impasses, Allées, Cours, Arcades, Galleries, Cités, Villas, steep Escaliers, Quais, Ports, Canals, and
Bassins; over 5,500, all surrounded by the Périphérique, the expressway that defines the perimeter of present day Paris.