One of our favorite French words (and activities!) is flaneur. It describes a person on a leisurely stroll or wander,usually in a city, just enjoying and taking in the sights, sounds, smells on the way. No particular destination, no tasks to accomplish, just reveling in the beauty and life of one’s surroundings.So today, Sunday, we’re flaneurs in Paris, stopping to admire whatever we want such as this pretty building on rue Madame, taking our time, counting our blessings as we stroll.Stop a while and listen to a bit of Dixieland jazz here, pause for a lunch of French classics (Onion Soup for Monsieur, goat cheese salad for Madame),enjoying the views as we sit in prime flaneur seats, both facing out at our tiny café table.And what flaneur doesn’t engage in a little leche vitrine (window licking – French for window shopping)? Russian Christmas decorations here,a tropical macaron fantasy at Laduree…It’s a quiet Sunday on the Seine – Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle that way,the Eiffel Tower a hike away in the other direction.We were reminded, by an article received from France Today this morning, of the Palais Royale, which we haven’t visited in decades, so we seek out the striped columns in one courtyard, and the gardenssurrounded with boutique-lined arcades in another.A few steps further, and there’s pretty Galerie Vivienne, Paris’ predecessor to shopping malls, but how very much more charming!The bookseller and most of the shops are closed, the tearooms are open – an inviting pause.I have to admit, we do have one item on our agenda – the windows of the Grands Magasins (department stores), the holiday extravaganzas of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. The Noel Monstre (monster Christmas) of Galeries Lafayette is of no interest to me – though the children packed before the window obviously love it! The Burberry Magical Voyage of Noel windows of Printemps, though, are adorable, with charming and playful scenes of snowscapes, Paris and London and beyond.
Returning across the Seine with a smile, we watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle, and enjoy a few decorated streets of the big citybefore returning to cozily small Aix tomorrow.