Monday, 6 February 2012

a pedestrian in paris

On Monday evening, I finally ventured down the seven flights of stairs only in the late afternoon, after a day of staying tucked in my cosy studette, working on getting through some of my course readings and doing various internet 'research'.  I made my way over to Shakespeare and Company, the fabulous and famous bookstore in the Latin Quarter that is stuffed to the brim with Hemingway, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Stein and any other author that lived in this great city. It is a place to spend absorbed hours in, and of course, to inevitably leave with a stack of new (or used) books to inspire.

This evening, author John Baxter was reading from his book The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, all about his experiences wandering the streets of Paris. As one who is also experiencing Paris largely by foot, I was interested to hear him describe becoming a flâneur, the art of which is so specific to this city. A flâneur is basically a stroller, a saunterer, one who can be found wandering from cafe to cafe along Haussmanian boulevards, dressed in nothing but their best. Although stemming from a tradition that began about 150 years ago, Parisians still tend to ALWAYS look fantastic, no matter if they are simply going down to throw out the garbage or run to the shop for some cigarettes. While this can seem pretty tiresome when I just feel like putting on some sweatpants, it is really nice to see well dressed people on every street, and you really are treated more respectfully when you have made an effort in looking the part.  After Baxter spoke I stayed around for a bit, talking to some other Sciences Po students and another friend staying in the city, and ended up purchasing another of Baxter's books and getting it personally signed. The book is called Chronicles of Old Paris, and consists of a collection of essays on important characters and events in the history of this great city. Even though I was trying to avoid buying any more books that will end up weighing my luggage down on the way home, I just couldn't resist! Looking forward to learning more about the famous and infamous people who have inhabited these streets.

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