In her new book, “Flâneuse,” Lauren Elkin expands the concept of the flâneur — that aristocratic bohemian man strolling the city streets, possibly with a top hat or some other touch of the dandy — to include women wanderers from Virginia Woolf to Sophie Calle (one of whose works will be featured in “Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie,” soon to open at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia). Elkin also retraces her own steps in life, and, here, shares five places in her adopted home of Paris that she finds herself returning to again and again.
The Palais-Royal is one of the best places to walk in Paris. I like to stroll past the windows at Didier Ludot, lécher les vitrines at Stella McCartney, get a coffee at Café Kitsuné and sit and read in the garden.
Any night out in Belleville will include a stop at the classic bar-cafe Aux Folies, and plenty of afternoons, too — the terrace is always heaving with people. Right around the corner is the graffiti-covered Rue Denoyez: the place with the most street art in the city, a gallery unto itself.
Bar de l’Entracte
In the Rue de Montpensier is a really old cafe that’s always full of actors from the nearby Théâtre du Palais-Royal. I’m enchanted by the way it’s nestled in the corner, where the road bends. Next door is my friends’ restaurant Verjus, and down the way is Jean Cocteau’s old apartment, at number 36.
Rilke’s “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” begins by describing a stroll past the Val-de-Grâce hospital and church in the Fifth Arrondissement. I love it most at night, the illuminated dome gold against the blue sky.
Pont La Fayette
Sometimes my strolls take me to this bridge, which stretches across the train tracks leading to the Gare de l’Est. I love the layers of concrete and iron, and the colors of the railings and cross braces. The palette is so Parisian, but the design and neighborhood so industrial.