Found in translation | flâner

le_flaneur_by_spenot-640x420

{flâner} 
verb |

to stroll, to saunter
to wander, to roam

A Paris, j’aime flâner le long des quais.
In Paris, I like to stroll along the banks of the Seine.

to laze, to idle
to laze about, to lounge about

Je profite du dimanche matin pour flâner.
I take advantage of Sunday mornings to lounge about.

Pronunciation [flah nay]
(Reference: http://www.wordreference.com/fren/flâner)

This is my favorite word in the French language. To me, it means to stroll without intent, to “get lost to get found,” or to discover life while getting lost – a lost art.

In Edmund White’s The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, the flâneur is someone, and something, to be revered. He defines flâneur as an “aimless stroller who loses himself in the crowd, who has no destination and goes wherever caprice or curiosity directs his or her steps.”

White also remarks how the French and Americans connect differently to the street, “Americans consider the sidewalk an anonymous backstage space, whereas for the French it is the stage itself.”

Without destination, allowing happenstance to guide, getting lost is just the beginning.

1 Comment

  1. […] Over this period, the popular press in Paris chose to focus on, and in doing so, defined a striking urban phenomenon: the crowd in the street. In time, a curious distinction came to be made between the badaud and the flâneur. […]

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