French writer and poet Victor Hugo wrote, “To wander is human, to stroll is Parisian." Indeed, strolling, or the act of walking for no reason other than pure pleasure, is a popular pastime in France. The word for it is flânerie. Although how it came to be is up for debate, the beauty of the city must surely have played a role. Even metro signs and park benches can be enchanting in Paris, and you’ll feel like you’re walking through a movie set when you’re in areas like Rue Montorgueil, a pedestrian-only market street near Les Halles; Rue Crémieux, a street with candy-colored homes in the 12th arrondissement; and Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris, where Hugo himself once lived. A stroll along one or many of Paris’s Seine-crossing bridges, including the 16th century Pont Neuf and gilded Pont Alexander III, is also essential for soaking up the magic of the city.
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