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在巴黎街头漫步 Strolling Paris

在巴黎街头漫步 1)Strolling Paris' Passages and 2)Boulevards

  What makes walking in Paris so wonderful is wandering its grand boulevards and exploring its elegant 3)arcades. 4)Amble about for an hour and you'll understand how Paris gave birth to the 5)flâneur, a stroller fascinated with street life, for whom 6)sauntering the city was the best way to experience it.

  Depicted in the paintings of 7)Édouard Manet and the poetry of 8)Charles Baudelaire, and analysed exhaustively by 9)Walter Benjamin in The Arcades Project, the flâneur was considered “a botanist of the sidewalk” for whom shop windows merited as much attention as museum paintings.

  Now, while we have no interest in wearing10)cravats or 11)promenading turtles on 12)leashes, as the 13)flamboyant nineteenth century 14)dandies did, we've decided to take to the footpaths and passages of Paris to learn more about the city, and who better to guide us than our friend, Bernard?


 We meet Bernard Zirnheld at Place Colette. Refreshingly, American-born Bernard is not a 15)Francophile, although he admits to having grown fond of the city. Holding degrees in French Literature and Fine Arts, he moved to Paris to do a doctoral 16)dissertation on architecture and urban planning. He is the ideal man to lead us on a17)mosey around the city.

  We begin on Rue de Rivoli, where, as we take in the elegant 18)edifices stretching all the way to Place de la Concorde, Bernard vividly sets the scene for the four of us doing his walk today: “Imagine: in 1801 Napoleon III wants to create a majestic boulevard, a uniform street of elegant 19)neoclassical 20)façades and arcades, a monumental setting for the Louvre; he wants very particular businesses and luxury shops and he goes as far as banning bakeries so there are no smells… this becomes Paris' first boulevard, intended as a ceremonial centre, inspired by Imperial Rome, that will connect important 21)nodes around the city…” Things start to make sense already.

  Ten minutes into our walk and we're already thinking differently about a street that Julian and I have strolled dozens of times. We head into the pretty gardens of the Palais Royal, one of our favourite spots in Paris, and sit on a bench under a shady tree, as Bernard reveals how Cardinal 22)Richelieu built Palais Cardinal in 1629 as his private palace, and how the 23)Duc d'Orléans opened it to the public after having it redesigned in 1784, transforming it into Paris' first shopping centre and entertainment complex, with a market and 140 shops, salons, museums, cafés, theatres, and casinos. All levels of society 24)kicked back under these arcades, from intellectuals to 25)aristocrats, while all kinds of activities took place here, from prostitution to political intrigue. Bernard sums it up as “an organized setting in a city of chaos.” Even now its tranquil gardens 26)belie the bustle of the 27)rue outside.


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