Walking Paris is a
puzzle to be mastered.
When arriving at an
intersection with four,
five streets, which way
do you turn so as not
to repeat yourself?
I found that it helps
to solve the puzzle if I
plan in advance. I can
then walk more
efficiently and avoid
repeating my steps
|Le Flâneur Extraordinaire
While I enjoy the planning as well as the
follow up, it is the walking itself that is my
focus and my joy. Exercise is even more
important for the spirit than it is for the
For me walking is close to being the most
pleasant form of exercise - especially in Paris.
|Then I sit back and admire my progress!
I print a detailed map beforehand, using
the great Paris transportation website.
Then I work out what I hope is the most
I usually try and have several walks
planned in advance to meet my mood of
As my walks have taken me further and further
away from our home in Montmartre, the
logistics of getting to and from the site of the
day’s walk become more challenging.
Paris has terrific public transportation options
- metro, buses, and the omnipresent Velib!
(Public bicycles posted throughout Paris).
Depending on the weather, I walk two or three times a week for three to four hours; about 5-12 miles (8-20 kilometers).
I rarely walk on the weekends as I prefer weekdays when the streets are alive with business.
Trish accompanies me once a week or so. While the walks with her may be less ambitious, they are without doubt more
enjoyable, and certainly less lonely. We also enjoy seeking out a local place to try for lunch.
I don’t walk especially fast, pretty average actually, and after the first few hours I tend to slow down a bit.
Of course there are times when I have to take a break.
Peeing can be a concern, but
public toilets are usually
(This may be the last of the old
style pissoirs left in Paris,
certainly the only one I have
seen since my days as a college
Once home I trace the route I walked on my maps
(I really love maps!)
• First I mark the streets I walked in yellow in my
now venerable copy of Paris Circulation.
• Next I boot up Google
Earth and trace my day's
walk, then save it.
This also allows me to
calculate the miles/kilometers
I have walked.
Often, when I go to bed the night after a walk, before I go to sleep I try and visualize the entire day's walk; to understand how
the rues, passages and boulevards relate to each other, and to streets in the adjacent arrondissements that I may have walked
It is amazing just how much information is stored in the mind! I can remember decisions I made, the missed turns, and rough
cobblestones of long impasses. I can see the colorful store displays; the people that I passed on the street or saw on the metro,
sitting in cafés or just smoking outside of offices, the people of Paris.
But I can always stop into a friendly café!
I come to know the area as "Un flâneur; a person who walks the city in order to experience it while remaining a detached
When I finish my walk, if it’s not too far, I ride a Velib’ home for more great exercise, (Velib’s weigh 48 pounds
and Montmartre is up from just about everywhere in Paris).
• Finally, on my master map of Paris I mark the streets I’ve walked in orange.
|…most of our solitary walks take place not only on the pavement but also in our heads, as our thoughts
shuttle back and forth between self-absorption and observation.***
• A personal note:
|(with perhps a little chilled Muscadet)
|…his ability to be both active and intellectual, to be reading the past of the city while existing entirely in the present, and his
manner of coloring the landscape with a bit of his own psyche places the flâneur at the center point of a whirlwind of