Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Letter from Europe

  • — Issue 2010/30 posted by hidden europe on

A few days ago, we sped from London to Paris on Eurostar, a journey of some five hundred kilometres, in little over two hours. It is very fast, and always leaves us feeling just a little bit breathless. So on arrival in Paris we went as always to the Jardin Villemin.

article summary —

Dear fellow travellers

A few days ago, we sped from London to Paris on Eurostar, a journey of some five hundred kilometres, in little over two hours. It was not so very long ago that we used Eurostar for the first time, but now we are great fans of the international rail service that links London with its continental neighbours. Of course we would much prefer that the journey took two or three hours longer. It is very fast, and always leaves us feeling just a little bit breathless.

So on arrival in Paris we went as always to the Jardin Villemin. This little retreat is just a ten minute walk from the Gare du Nord (and actually right by the Gare de L'Est). Gone is the Afghan community who last year lived in this Parisian haven. "Moved on by the police," we were told by an elderly woman in the park, a pale and frail figure who bore all the insignia of poverty. "And you? What brings you here?" the lady asked. "We are just waiting for our souls to catch up with us," we replied. So we all sat in silence for a few minutes and then, without a further word, we each went on our way.

The Jardin Villemin is full of ghosts. Here the Jewish children of the tenth arrondissement were gathered to be sent to German death camps, and here lived the Afghans displaced from Sangatte until they were once again moved on. Who knows where they are now. The unkempt walled garden is a place where the sons and daughters of wretchedness can find a little peace. It is the sort of place we write about in hidden europe.

This is issue 200 of our e-brief. Just imagine… all those words, more than 100000 of them in all, which have arrived in your inbox over the last five years. We hope that they have inspired you to pause and reflect on the Europe we explore and about which we write. And perhaps our words have even worked a little magic and given your soul a chance to catch up with you.

hidden europe 32: preview

A new issue of hidden europe is published this week, and copies can already be ordered in our online shop. hidden europe 32 includes a wonderful mix of reports from communities across Europe. We visit the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen. This cascade is no mighty Niagara, yet it has an iconic place on many itineraries as travellers follow in the footsteps of Goethe, Ruskin and JMW Turner to view the celebrated falls. We report on the small town in northern Russia where old submarines come home to die, look at Croatia's wetlands and explore Belgrade suburbs. You can see the full table of contents online. And if you are one of the thousands of folk who enjoy our regular e-brief, but have never actually seen a copy of hidden europe magazine, why not now take the plunge and order a one year subscription? You'll find out the secrets of the mikveh, discover there is more to Switzerland than cuckoo clocks and learn why travellers might do well to carry a peewit's heart in a cloth bag around their necks.

Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
(editors, hidden europe magazine)

This article was published in Letter from Europe.

About The Authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.