There is a way of walking in Paris quite distinct from the strolling of the tourist. It is not about ticking visits to monuments off a list, anxiously carrying a camera to record every site nor setting a fixed time to those endeavors. It is the way of the flaneur. It is the invention of a certain culture, a way of observing life unhurriedly go by and uncritically tasting all sensorial experiences. Paris is the natural habitat for such activity and the French, the most adept practitioners.
I must confess a fault in my personal experience as a flaneur: I carry a camera. Street life is full of too many surprises and had photography not been in its infancy, Baudelaire or Proust, flaneurs of the past, would have included one in their personal ramblings. So without shame or guilt and in the company of the technical device, I go out in the street, thrillingly aimless. The cardinal points seem to impose their own whims upon me and if the mood of the day is towards the North, my steps take me in that direction.
I follow the Rue Montmartre all the way past the Grands Boulevards where it begins to narrow and meander and changes name to Rue du Faubourg Montmartre. The street then becomes more charged. Like a powerful generator it hums and whirs, barely allowing traffic to move in its congested width. A few blocks further, the Rue des Martyrs climbs joyfully up to the summit.
Montmartre still lures me in spite of the hordes of trampling visitors. The soul of the place resists the tourist invasion as if the hilly position endows it with more pluckiness. Near the Place des Abesses, I take shots of corners surprisingly preserved, of buildings squeezed against each other or sleepy alleyways. Every visit tells a story, unveils an unsuspected vista as an endless reservoir of bubbling inspiration.