Lessons in Living a French Life

Bringing a touch of French culture to everyday life

Today's Weekly Voilà: It is time to embrace your inner flâneur and enjoy the sweetness of each day 😊💗🇫🇷



Flâneur | noun: French.
A stroller, sunterer, one who relaxes and takes in the moment
Think poet of the streets. Someone who is inspired by an ordinary moment. An individual who sees the value of simple tasks. There is no true translation from French into English and that is telling in and of itself.

A flâneur is not an easy thing to be. Today's society values productivity and being busy. The flâneur notices the beauty of the present and often appears doing nothing. For those of us living in France and not being French, there is a period of adjustment to this concept.

For instance, you want to pop in for a quick baquette and you find the individual in front of you is having a long conversation with the baker. Part of you wants to clear your throat loudly in a very American sort of way. But another part of you realizes that this is French culture. The art of flânerie happening right before your very eyes. Enjoy it and embrace the concept.

You can test your ability to be a flâneur when you are dining out in France. Do you engage in quiet conversation or people watch while waiting for your menu to arrive? Or do you flail your arms around, waving down the first server that you spot? The first example is French. The second is not. Do you linger over that meal, taking in the sights and sounds and tastes? Or do you rush through lunch without any consideration for your delicious glass of wine, the conversation, the people passing by? Are you waiting impatiently, wondering where is my bill? (Psst . . . l'addition only arrives when you ask for it. And then it comes in due course. It's France.)

If you answered "yes" to rushing and being impatient, you are missing out on the benefits of being a flâneur.
Gustave Caillebotte. Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877. Art Institute of Chicago. 
This concept grew out of a 19th-century literary type specific to Paris. In his 1863 essay, The Painter of Modern Life, French poet, Charles Baudelaire, identified an observer of modern urban life as a "flâneur." Often the word is translated  as "idler" or "wander with no purpose." But that is an inaccurate translation. Yes, the art of flânerie is a critique of the modern, rushed world. But there is nothing lazy in its practice. A flâneur is mindful of the rich and varied landscape he or she encounters. For Baudelaire, it referred to Paris' scholars, writers, and artists. Most definitely, it was a critique of modernity.
Some of my family's best flâneur moments in Paris. Whether lounging in the Tuileries Gardens or enjoying time in a café, these memories stay with you for a lifetime.
There is a difference between being impatient and practicing being a flâneur. The former is when you find yourself being afraid of wasting time. Life is too short for that mindset. The latter is when you are afraid of not spending that time wisely. See the difference?

This weekend, take time to saunter and chronicle the present moment.

À bientôt,