Stroll along a canal, amble along the boulevard or sit by the river and enjoy the moment. Cultivate the aura of being a local, sit at a bistro terrace and swivel your head as people pass you by. This is the art of behaving like a local. Let the time drift by.
Sometimes it seems as if nobody works in European cities. Or they have perfected the art of downtime in a café or bistro or laying on a grassy knoll or riverbank. The French have mastered the art of the boulevard stroll and idle observation at the café. This is a pastime that should be experienced at least once in Paris. Or combine this with a twilight riverside picnic opposite Notre Dame, food and wine sourced from the markets, watching locals go about their evening rituals. Here you will come to understand the essence of ‘joie de vivre’. If a local approaches, politely asking in French to borrow your bottle opener, you know that you have nailed it.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with loitering without intent. This is particularly so in the evenings, as locals emerge from their apartments to reclaim their cities once the tourists have departed. Be inspired by this local ritual, as you wander the streets, popping into small bars for an aperitif or sitting on the rim of a fountain in the town square watching the sun sink behind the surrounding buildings. This is the best time of the day.
You will have a lot of fun if you can take time out to while away the afternoon in a square, ignoring the time and mastering the long lunch or the lingering drink. Wander and roam, amble and stroll. Let the experience wash over you, forgetting, even for just a moment, that you are but a tourist.