In a big busy cosmopolitan city like Paris it is sometimes a wonder how its inhabitants keep fit and healthy, in other words normal? When I rush around the corridors of the METRO dodging the other people and rushing to what might be my train it reminds me of so many rats in a laboratory experiment about behaviour when stressed, rushed and doing repetitive tasks. The findings of such experiments have usually been unsurprisingly nasty. So how do Parisians stay normal?
Well first of all Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and nobody appreciates their city like a Parisian. They stop and stare almost as much as a tourist or “blow in” like me, and also, and this is the punch line, they love exercise.
No wonder the French retain their trim figures for most of their lives. Every spare space has some sort of amenity for “le stretching”. This amenity can take the form of various barres, barrels or type of climbing frame to swing from. There are also spaces for setting up games such as “boulles” a time honoured game dating back to the prime activity in any French village, alongside the more modern activity of roller blading (with or without hockey sticks) skate boarding or football. There are table tennis facilities set out with a special noiseless ball and very fixed table with bats attached. When taking the “autoroute” to places outside Paris the frequent laybys and restaurants “aire” in French nearly always have an exercise space for both children and adults. How sensible is that. To be able to “stretch” mid-journey just makes sense.
Whilst doing a Sunday stroll all this activity was going on around me and on approaching the Louvre Palace/Museum even the statues were in gymnastic style poses. (see accompanying pics). In fact they reminded me of the positions I try to get into during my Pilates class. Yes I have become almost French, actively at least, and hope to be a bi-lingual Pilates Teacher very soon. Together with the long walks that are easily done in Paris, stopping and staring of course, a healthy life in a city is very easy.