Remember when I thought I was going to write all my France blog posts in the week after I got back? Yeah….
Skipping past the backlog of blog posts that I need to write, let’s go straight to our last day in Paris.
Our train didn’t leave until just after lunch, so we decided to spend the morning at Bibliotheque Nationale. Intended to be the repository of everything published in France, the library’s current building was consecrated in 1996, but it’s origins date back to the Royal Library of Charles X in 1368, in the Louvre Palace.
In the main entrance there were two giant globes, based on designs of Vincenzo Coronelli from 1681-1683. One was a terrestrial globe, and showed the countries of the earth, albeit in a rather decorative fashion. No named New Zealand on the map, as it had been discovered at the time but not yet named so. If I remember correctly, Australia was marked ‘inconnu’. The second globe was a celestial one, with illustrations of the heavens and the stars. A lot of mythological stuff, you know.
We didn’t have a huge amount of time to wander around- I went to watch a video about the installation of the globes, and Ruth wandered around an exhibition about WWI. We both looked at an installation about “Peace”, with the same word written in all the different languages of the world.
In the courtyard of the library, there was a miniature forest of ancient pine trees, imported from the countryside and planted here, amid their own ecosystem of bugs and insects and other forest plants and greenery. Some of the trees were hundreds of years old!
After the library we went to catch our train, and after waving goodbye to Paris and a several hour train ride, we were in Strasbourg. Ruth had suggested visiting the town, which I didn’t know very much about beforehand. Fun fact- it’s the official seat of the European Parliment! In Eastern France, and very close [fifteen minutes with bike, apparently] to the German border.
We only had one and a half days to explore Strasbourg, so we made our way straight to our bed and breakfast to drop our bags and get started. After a quick trip to the information center, where we each purchased the “Strasbourg Pass”, which just includes tickets to all the major attractions in the town. I have to say, I absolutely love being under 18 and traveling in Europe- so so so many cool things are free to do, and my Strasbourg Pass was automatically worth it just by taking one boat trip.
But that and more we planned to do the next day- that day we just climbed up the cathedral! And I have to say, the view was so spectacular, and it was so very windy, that I can’t tell you very much about the cathedral itself, only that it was old and beautiful, with lots and lots of stairs to get to the top, and very much worth visiting.
After that we wandered through the area of Strasbourg known as Petite France- the oldest and most famous/touristy part of the town. It was getting dark around then, but we still managed to see a lot of the very picturesque cottages, looking like they’d jumped straight off a biscuit tin.
And that was Day 1 in Strasbourg!