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It was nice yet again on Thursday (yawn) so we strolled through the 13ème arrondissement to the Bibliothèque nationale de France – site François-Mitterrand (the National Library on the Seine) to see an exhibition on globes that had caught Jared’s eye. The library is an impressive complex, albeit highly dysfuctional.

Bibliothèque nationale de France – site François-Mitterrand

The exhibition covered globes of the earth and of the heavens from antiquity to the present day. They basically seem to have gathered together anything that was or depicted a globe.

Tiny pocket globe of the earth with the stars inside the cover.
Bob and Jared with the enormous Globes of Coronelli made in 1681-3 for Louis XIV.
Louis XVI giving instructions to the captain of the ill-fated voyage of La Pérouse (with globe in background).

After the exhibition we foraged for lunch, and found a nice place in the amazing complex of new buildings that has sprouted over the past few years along the Avenue de France. We were impressed by the way in which each building reflects a distinct architectural vision yet also fits in with overall guidelines for height and features. Jared wondered aloud what Baron Haussmann would make of this. I think he would have found the variation in style incomprehensible but he would have approved of the consistency of mass.

Building on Avenue de France from the rear plaza.
Panorama of buildings along Avenue de France from the rear plaza.

We planned to attend an orchestra concert at La Villette in the evening, but we had plenty of time so we decided to walk back to Bastille via the Promenade Plantée (which we both love). It took a bit of navigating to get onto it, but we found an entrance (at the left of the photo below) right next to a dramatic arch of the Petite Ceinture, another abandoned railway line.

Viaduct of La Petite Ceinture

We had a snack at the Place de la Bastille, then we took the métro up to La Villette with a view to arriving half an hour before the concert. After a SNAFU concerning which concert hall to go to we found the right one and got excellent seats, since it started half an hour later than we had expected.

We heard a terrific free concert, called the Prix de Direction d’Orchestre, performed by the Orchestre des Lauréats du Conservatoire, which is made up of recent Conservatory graduates. Each of the four pieces, by Sibelius, Stravinsky and Dvorak, was conducted by a different top graduate of the Conservatory’s training program for conductors. This is an annual concert that I will try to see every year I am here.

The concert didn’t finish until 11 pm so we were a bit concerned about getting dinner. There were several places in the vicinity that seemed to be closing down but we got a decent turkish meal, which we finished in good time to get the métro home. (The last train typically leaves each end of a line between 12:30 am and 1 am on weeknights, an hour later on Fridays, Saturdays and when the next day is a jour férié.)