TODAY'S WORD: flâner
: stroll, wander, roam, saunter, meander
: to laze about, to be idle
La flânerie = loafing, idleness
La flânerie, n’est pas seulement délicieuse ; elle est utile. C’est un bain de santé qui rend la vigueur et la souplesse à tout l’être ; à l’esprit comme au corps ; c’est le signe et la fête de la liberté . Strolling is not only delicious; it is useful. It is a bath of health which gives back vigor and flexibility to all the being; to the mind as to the body; it is the sign and the festival of freedom. -Henri Frédéric Amiel
FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French quote and all French terms in this post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
On the train up to the capital I tapped my daughter on the arm. The TGV passenger in seat 661 pulled out her earpods. "Oui, Maman," she smiled patiently.
"Sweetie, we still haven't come up with a plan for our two days in Paris. Actually, we only have this afternoon, this evening, and all day tomorrow in the city. What would you like to do?”
"Hmm. Let me think about that. I'm a little hungry now. Did you say you brought a picnic for the train?"
"I did!" Reaching into my purse, I pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "I made you two: one on healthy bread and the other on the good bread! There's also an apple, some Snickers, and a bag of walnuts if you like--and some water!"
“Aw, thanks, Mom." Jackie said. "Well, how about dinner and a cabaret at Le Moulin Rouge?”
“Oh, I don’t know about that…” I said, wondering if the iconic cabaret was family friendly? Why not see The Nutcracker instead? No, Christmas was two months away.... Oh, what did I know about cultural activities anyway? I don't go to operas or ballets. They give me itchy legs. I can't sit still. Was there a Lady and The Tramp show? No, that was at Disneyland Paris, some twenty years ago. Jackie was five-years-old at the time. She is all grown up now and I've got to finally readjust my motherly lens, from the little girl of my heart to a grown woman--ever in my heart.
"Don't worry about it Mom. We'll just walk around Paris and see..."
A scenic walkabout? I was tired already. This all sounded much better as a French verb... flâner!
Still, I didn’t know if my sore back could handle that much flânerie. But this was no time to be a wimp, or, as the French say une chochotte. For how often does one get the chance to visit The City of Light—even when one lives in France? And when would I see my youngest child again? Only one of us was coming home to La Ciotat this time. The other was about to fly off again, from the Charles de Gaulle airport to Seattle to who-knows-where after?
Even if this strolling strategy, this unfocused flânerie, was doable, la météo, which forecasted la pluie, could put a damper on our mother-daughter escapade. Finally, without some sort of itinerary, we might waste our time in this prized destination: historic Pa-ree! Just what were we in for then? As always, I tried to visualize every scenario, unsure of what to expect. Then again, expectation so often leads to disappointment. So why not go along with Jackie’s idea of a meandering--a carefree and much-needed vagabondage--and, as Yves Montand so famously sang, flâner sur les Grands Boulevards! After all, action leads to discovery, all we needed to do was put one foot in front of the other...and the streets of Paris would reveal a treasure of possibilities.
* * *
I will tell you more about our time in Paris once I have organized my notes. Meantime, in the coming weeks, I'll be writing about matters closer to home, sharing a few updates about my Mom, her unexpected and grumpy companion, and a meaningful milestone in my career. Thank you, as ever, for reading!
A few more photos taken while flaning around Paris.
We bumped into a couple other flâneurs in Paris: my son, Max, and his girlfriend, Ana, who snapped the mother-daughter photo, above.
Dogs in the cobbled streets of Montmartre. I like this moody image of a woman walking her dogs, snapped while walking arm-in-arm with Jackie.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety