Nom de Plumage

March 22, 2013


The oldest book in the library, a Merovingian ...

The oldest book in the library, a Merovingian manuscript from the 7th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Colmar is a smaller city about forty minutes from Strasbourg. At first glance as I exit the train station, is an ordinary city that holds no special appeal. But I know that the real Colmar, or the part of the city that tourists flock to visit, is not too far away and it only requires some navigation and a patience. A ten minute walk and sure enough, the picturesque part reveals itself, to what I can only describe in one word – WOW! If ‘Petite France‘ in Strasbourg impressed me, then Colmar absolutely blew me away. My words will never do it justice and my cheap camera only leaves a tantalising impression of the true beauty of this little piece of a medieval town.

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The German influence is again strong and offers colourful and quaint medieval town beautifully preserved. Cobblestone or paved roads weave their paths through the narrow streets. I love the colours of the buildings and their off-centred style uniqueness that is found rarely in any city, let-alone any modern city. A canal trickles gently underfoot as you walk over the many little bridges that unite the city and it is this charm, combined with the unique buildings, that make Colmar a must-see.

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A short ten minute train ride from Colmar, is a town called Selestat and I stopped there for one reason only – books. If you have not guessed by now, I have a passion for all things books and when I discover anything related to my my big love, then I have to see it. I am never one to criticise the advances of technology and with the huge popularity of electronic books,but  I have bucked the trend and remained faithful to the printed form. Simply because it is what I know and love, but also I love the feel and smell of a book. There are always arguments for and against the book in both forms and I appreciate both and there may come a time when I too shall conform, but not right now and not when Europe offers priceless treasures in the forms of bibliotheques.

In our modern world, we are spoilt for choice when we enter a bookstore. Books of every genre, even language and all at reasonable prices, we forget that there was a time when books were rare and very costly. It shows in the intricate detail of the workmanship and  painstaking dedication to reproduce a book. Today, most book collector‘s can have hundreds even thousands of books in their collection, but in medieval times, ten or twenty books collected over a life-time was the norm. The ‘Humaniste Bibliotheque’ is a sensational collection of books and manuscripts dating from the 1500’s, donated by theologians from their own personal collection, after their deaths. Collected and preserved, they are housed on wooden shelves, protected by glass from the ravages of time for over five hundred years. The smell is quintessentially authentic to old books and although I could not touch the priceless relics, I could admire and enjoy them.

My day and in fact my stay in Strasbourg ended with a farewell dinner with my friend Suzy. The weather turned even more miserable and cold and it started to rain. It could not dampen our spirits, although it did make it a challenge to try and find a suitable place to have some dinner. We found a café called ‘Europa’ and although not ideal, it offered warmth and good food. Unfortunately, it is late in the evening and Suzy just finished work and I needed to go back to the hostel to pack for my departure tomorrow. I ordered dinner and afterwards we shared dessert. An evening with my friend, talking, laughing and reminiscing about our travels and time spent together was always going to be an emotional experience. It is our last meeting and one I am very sorry for.

To Suzy – thanks for the wonderful memories. I enjoyed our time spent together and although brief, you touched my heart with your beautiful smile and spirit. May we always endeavour to stay in touch and I pray that our paths will meet again.

salle d'exposition de la Bibliothèque Humanist...

salle d’exposition de la Bibliothèque Humaniste de Sélestat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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