Throughout my four (and a half…*ahem*) years studying Media Studies at University of San Francisco, the term ‘flâneur’ would often pop up in lectures. I remember first hearing the term–originally coined by French critic/poet, Charles Baudelaire, in the 19th century–in Professor Andrew Goodwin’s course, The Popular Arts.
For those of you who don’t speak French (I don’t!), ‘flâneur’ essentially means “a person who walks the city in order to experience it.” I can say, without hesitation, that living in London has turned me into a flâneuring fiend!
My first day back here (was it really almost a month ago already??), after recovering from jet lag, I found myself wandering aimlessly around central London, just to reacquaint myself with the city. Rather than feeling isolated, or overwhelmed about the big move, I found myself taking everything in and enjoying the amusing and iconic sights I came across on the South Bank:
A tower made completely out of cardboard paper rolls
Our future ruler
St. Paul’s Cathedral
(hey, is that a fellow flaneur in the foreground?)
Big Ben/Houses of Parliament
I’m not sure if it still counts as ‘flâneuring’ if you’re with another person, but then how else are you supposed to get a picture of yourself with The Monument? (This one’s for you, Professor Robertson!)
(Thanks for taking the picture, Anna!)
Regardless, I think the best part about experiencing the world as a flâneur (whether solo or not) is the fun in seeing the world unfold around you, without having any expectations or agenda. While hoards of tourists were rushing around, anxiously clutching maps and cameras so as not to miss a single sight, I took pleasure in the fact that I have a whole year to experience as much of this city as possible. And that, I will!