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Monday, June 7, 2010

Seeing Manhattan on Your Feet: Exclusive Interview with Our Mover and Shaker Mireille Guiliano! Are You Seeing Manhattan on Your Feet? Start Now!

Seeing Manhattan on Your Feet is something that we highly recommend, and in this column we typically speak about actual footwear that you should use.  However, today we turn to the actual philosophy of walking around the city.  Manhattan is a highly walkable city; it is not a place that you need to drive to get from A to B in, and Peachy Deegan almost always walks everywhere.  Not only is it fabulous exercise, but it enables her to see more of the city that she might not see otherwise, and of course it provides endless opportunities for new ideas for posts for you to read!   With the great weather here, we think it is time to entice you all to walk around the city too, so by the time the cold weather gets here you will be addicted to it, like us.

Last fall, when we were reading Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire, which we highly recommended, we discovered its author, Mireille Guiliano, also shares this smexy philosophy.  We were so excited she does that she became a Mover and Shaker for that reason and many more:

You listen to Peachy's recommendations every day so we thought it would be exciting to check in with Mireille, who is so nice to find the time to answer our questions during her holiday in France.   Thank you Mireille!

Peachy Deegan: What are your favorite parts of the city to walk around and what do you like best about them?
Mireille Guiliano: For someone who has always lived in the West Village, this is it for me. Nothing beats an early am walk in any small, lovely street from Bank St to Leroy St and anything in between, along the water with a bike path and lovely grounds and as of last year the marvelous High Line which thanks to all of us supporting, it will be expanded. This is clearly my favorite part of the city where I feel at home and run into neighbors.  Of course, if I'd live uptown Central Park would be my "secret garden" though I prefer smaller places.  

Is there any part of the city you think should be avoided for walking?
Some places midtown die at night, and I always tell visiting friends to avoid them. 

How do you think Manhattanites can become more motivated to walk more often and further?
Walking is a top reason for French women not to get fat, and in a city like New York there is no excuse for not getting in plenty of walks.  One can walk almost everywhere, and it's a good way to explore the city as you've said.  For years I'd go to the Metropolitan Museum and walk back to the West Village using different routes. A seventy or eight block walk seems crazy to some people, until you point out it is a pleasant one or two-hour stroll with plenty of pleasant windows  [Peachy: Read our column New Window] and sight-seeing along the way.  With good shoes and water intake along the way, it really isn't much of a physical challenge.

What footwear is the best for seeing Manhattan on Your Feet for women?
Comfortable shoes, of course today, no one needs to think unattractive sneakers.  There are plenty of nice looking shoes from loafers to pumps with medium heels which feel like slippers and allow hours of walk without pain. Flexibility and good arch support are keys.

How about for men?
Same as for women.  One does not need to wear ugly shoes anymore to be comfortable.

When people have an excuse of saying they don't have time, we consider how bad taxi traffic can be and how pokey the MTA is (not to mention not so clean either).  How do you think people should address their internal excuses?
Ban the excuses.  My adopted U.S. country sisters and brothers are very good at finding excuses for not doing the right thing.  They take the elevator when they live on the second floor.  I read a long piece yesterday that rated the U.S. number 161 in the world for working to improve the environment (and it is a U.S. study).  How can that be.  People need to perform a little personal inventory then act on their resolves.    I say let's improve and lose a few pounds walking...and it is free.
There seem to be more pedestrian-friendly initiatives since Mayor Bloomberg has been in office such as more sidewalks on Broadway and Times Square.  What else would you like to see done in terms of infrastructure by the City?
The subway could be a bit cleaner and nicer looking though and much less noisy, but that is an agency of the State of New York, not the City.  You can't beat the speed however (that is when it works). Ideally, there should be more bike lanes, though I'm not sure New Yorkers will ever model the Dutch or even the French when it comes to biking to work.

Do you have any other comments on this topic?
In my books and talks I always mention the benefits of walking.  See page 268 of my new French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook.  [This was highly recommended by Whom You Know:
One can do it at any time, for any length of time, in street clothes. More than helping you from your waist down, it also is relaxing.  It's a good way to plan your day, to meditate, to look at buildings in a city or nature in the country and , of course, it does all sorts of good stuff to your heart, your muscles and your head.  Again, all for free...
Walkingly yours, Mireille


Merci Mireille!  xo Peachy

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