Interesting observation on the social behaviour of French and some in-sight tips of Paris. Not a guide book. More on French mentality.
With flâner, the French version strolling, as a binding theme American author Edmund White tells six stories about the history of Paris and life in the city.
Flâner itself is the subject of the first chapter. Given its lack of purpose it can only be an emotional experience, its main mood being "melancholy, although you were constantly convinced that happiness lay just around the corner."
Although White concedes that flâner can be an experience for all the senses, his is mainly history. Following are the acceptance of black Americans (chapter 2), the position of Jews (chapter 3), Baudelaire and Gustave Moreau (chapter 4), homosexuals (chapter 5), and monarchists (chapter 6).
All this is painted against the background of the officially egalitarian French society: "The French believe that a society is not a federation of special interest groups but rather an impartial state that treats each citizen - regardless of his or her gender, sexual orientation, religion or colour - as an abstract, universal individual. For the French any subgroup of citizens is a diminishment of human equality."
This worked out fine for American blacks: they found easy acceptance in a more colour-blind society. On the flipside, it caused belated activism during the height of the AIDS-epidemic, because there was no minority activism. The Flâneur is a product of good journalism, but does not deliver a complete picture of the beauty and idiosynchrasies that make up la Ville Lumière....Continua