Flâneur, a touch of surrealism

In travel it is easy to become a flâneur, one who wanders without destination. To simply saunter, like a connoisseur of the street with equal parts curiosity and laziness. Stroll along the boulevards, the parks, the arcades and lounge in the cafés. It is a way of understanding the landscape, taking in the urban experience with a moving photograph. Totally absorbed in the outside world, the flâneur finds the world picturesque, a “gastronomy of the eye”.

The passionate wanderer is essentially timeless.  The flâneur is keenly aware of the flurry of modern life, of increasing productivity and the modern horror of the thought of doing absolutely nothing. But with the influence of technology as we grow increasingly busier, take a step back, encourage the pursuit of flaneur.  Seek out in unknown cities, don’t rely on the tools, gadgets and technology that direct our every step these days. Explore the hidden crevices of a city.  Intentionally create a space of idle wandering without a destination.  Discover what is right in front of you, what is under your feet, what is above you. Walk for walking sake, not in a hurry just to get from one place to another, but to experience the labyrinthine streets, the cityscapes and hidden corners.

The flâneur moves through space and among the people with a viscosity that both enables and privileges vision… The flâneur possesses a power, walks at will, freely and seemingly without purpose, but simultaneously with an inquisitive wonder and an infinite capacity to absorb the activities of the collective,  ‘the crowd.’

To wonder about the lives of the people you pass, constructing stories about them in your head, studying how people dress, to see and to be seen, yet somehow remain detached.  Be a stroller of city streets with large numbers of people, be away from home yet at home anywhere.  See your city as magical with the surrealism you know it has, be a tourist, even at home. Put down the map, get lost and embrace the unexpected of what is around you. Don’t think about getting from A to B, don’t think about arriving at the destination, think about what lies where there is no destination, with aimless wander.

Disassociate yourself from your surroundings, take a step back, walk more.  Find yourself in vintage shops, in coffee houses or sit in a bus shelter by the shore. With the accompanying stress of artificial busyness these little things do matter. We spend our time in cities too preoccupied, too tired or too busy to take note and admire small details in architecture. Our visual astuteness is becoming rusty. Slowing down and letting go can liberate us to open our eyes and find pleasure experiencing the world around us.

Is it time to resist being swayed rhythmically on the commute on the bus and train and let things pass unnoticed?  Is it time to rekindle our engagement with the environment?  So, as life grows busier with the brunt of society, may flânerie be due a revival?

Flâneur – (French noun), means “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer” or “loafer”.  A man who saunters around observing society.

Quote by sociologist Chris Jenks

Article written in response to The Daily Post challenge “add a dash of magic and a touch of surrealism to your writing”


15 Responses

  1. Corinne says:

    Lyn, I learn something new every day! I love that I’m a flaneur! Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!
    Corinne recently posted…The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly! Animal Cafés in JapanMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Thanks for hosting the #wkendtravelinspiration Corinne and for your comment. I love that a few people have learnt a new word for something that is a favourite past time for many of us.

  2. I have not heard of this term flâneur before. I always thought that my obsession with walking and watching people and wondering about the stories within the stories was a sociological interest. I like being a flâneur better. Good article.
    Paula McInerney recently posted…9 Dishes / 9 Ice Creams in Context at the Westin Palace MadridMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      I’d heard it a few times and liked it definition so much decided to wrote the post. Thanks for stopping by Paula and glad to hear you are a fellow flâneur.

  3. Monika says:

    Love the concept. Until recently I was rushing around, trying to see everything and everyone, forgetting that traveling is not about that. Now I travel more relax, less without a strict plan, as my trip to Portugal showed that if something is worth seeing, you will eventually stumble upon it. And sometimes not all the great tourist “must see” sites are worth your time. Adventure might await round the corner, but you will miss it when rushing to see this great something you read in your travel guide.
    Monika recently posted…Feeling Mediterranean at St. Ives, CornwallMy Profile

  4. Scott says:

    LOVE this concept. We all should do this more, just be, enjoy the moment, and yes cut yourself off from the digital world from time to time!! 🙂
    Scott recently posted…My Guide to the Gili Islands, IndonesiaMy Profile

  5. I do that …. walk aimlessly wandering aroung discovering new spot and then sit on a café or in a corner to people watch. … New worf for the day 🙂

  6. samiya selim says:

    Beautifully written! Didn’t realise I do this at times without even knowing it..Now I can put a name to the action 🙂
    samiya selim recently posted…Greek temples of Paestum – enjoying the wonders of a less known archaeological destinationMy Profile

  7. Lauren says:

    Wow, I learned a new word today! 🙂 I’d love to live this type of lifestyle at times, just taking in the scenery!
    Lauren recently posted…Travel Blogger Thursday: Angelica of Brooklyn Chick TravelsMy Profile

  1. March 4, 2017

    […] to wander and observe city life. These covered passages are perfect for the Parisian pastime of the flaneur, especially in inclement […]

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