Paris-Beijing by the Trans-Siberian. Agnes and Pierre Rosenstiehl. Gallimard, 1981.

Paris-Beijing by the Trans-Siberian

  Between Two Journeys

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

I love books that make you travel. I just found an illustrated album that was one of my favorite books as a child: Paris-Beijing by the Trans-Siberian.

The authors are Agnès Rosenstiehl (the designer of the mischievous Mimi Cracra) and her husband Pierre, at Gallimard. An out of print edition from 1981!

Paris-Beijing by the Trans-Siberian. Agnes and Pierre Rosenstiehl. Gallimard, 1981.

I dive back into it with delight. And I understand better, with my adult eyes, why this book exerted such a fascination on my dreamy little girl mind. It's a real travel story, full of encounters, details, anecdotes, a story full of humor, illustrated by small comic strips showing the journey of the two young travelers, Marco and Pierrot. It starts like this:

The Nord-Express
Fire! We left for 10 834 kilometers. Paris-Peking, it's simple: just one change of train in Moscow. From the Gare du Nord, every day at 5:13 p.m., platform 3, the Nord-Express leaves to scatter its cars all over Northern Europe, to Münster, Bremen, Cologne, Hamburg, Copenhagen...
We embark in a very remarkable wagon: Russian, with Russian insignia, the only wagon for Moscow! The wagon conductor asks you in Russian for your passports and tickets. And "Niet, niet! ", no visitors in the Russian wagon of the North Station.

--I have never taken the Trans-Siberian Railway. But to reach Asia without taking a plane, by land, is an old dream that I hope to realize one day.

I remembered this book thanks to a message posted a few days ago on Facebook by my fellow Quebecois Marie-Julie Gagnon His little daughter asked him for his Dora suitcase, to "play traveling at home, Mommy! »

So I saw myself "playing the Trans-Siberian Railway" in my train compartment. homemadewith my favourite book on my knees, absorbed in the contemplation of the imaginary landscapes that were scrolling through the imaginary window, seriously preparing myself for the announced stops: Moscow, Olan-Bator, Beijing... And then there was this incredible ascent of the time zones at the slow pace of the train.

I then started a search on the Internet, to find "my" book, obviously out of print. I finally found it on the used book website Abebooks. This was my first time ordering online from them. Super fast and efficient. As soon as I ordered, I received it! And the book is in good condition, as they said.

Paris-Beijing by the Trans-Siberian

--It was in this book, too, that I learned how to handle chopsticks... and I continue, today, to give this very sound advice to those who have trouble with it, "It holds together like two pencils!"

For those who, like me, love to travel virtually thanks to the Internet, you can take the Trans-Siberian Railway without leaving your living room: on (a project involving Russian Railways and Google), there are videos and interactive maps, to complete the journey, step by step, from Moscow to Vladivostok. You have to click on the names in the block at the bottom right to go from one video to another.

Finally, because the journey can also be immobile, fed by readings and dreams, I pay a tribute to the poet Baudelaire, always inspiring...

For the child who loves cards and prints,
The universe is equal to its vast appetite.
Ah! How big the world is by the light of the lamps!
But the real travelers are those who leave
to leave; light hearts, like balloons,
From their fatality they never deviate,
And, without knowing why, always say: Come on!
Baudelaire - The trip


  Between Two Journeys

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  1. Joli billet. I understand your joy at finding this album 😀
    Your post shows just how children's books leave their mark on us, imprinting themselves on us and shaping us. They make us travel (even if they're not about travel). I think the most successful ones are those that touch us with simple, fundamental things about the world, those that say the unspeakable (because many things are still unspeakable when you're a child).
    For my part, I'm reminded of Hulul, Arnold Lobel's owl, trying to be at the top and bottom of the stairs at the same time. A lovely image to say something about the desire to be in two places at once. And what's more, he was making himself tea with tears... 🙂
    As for the Trans-Siberian Railway, I've often imagined myself fetching boiling tea from the samovar in the carriage at night and sipping it while gazing at the dark and the sky, which would - inevitably - be starry. 😉

  2. I love it! 🙂 This exchange about books has really inspired me. A new book idea has sprouted...
    And I also love the trip that Google is proposing, which should be the subject of a post of my own as soon as I'm done with Disney (I've been holding back since I saw the news last week... hard, hard! lol)!

  3. @Married: Nice comment too. Very true. Children's books leave more of an impression on us than adult books, don't they? And I remember Hulul's Tea of Tears...
    @ Marie-Julie: There you go, children's books-wise, you know what you have to do now... As for the Trans-Siberian via Google, don't hold back, can't wait to read your post on the subject!!!!

  4. Hello,
    Thank you for this link really great!
    When I was a child, I travelled with Tintin and Snowy, Asterix and Obelix, and of course the atlases that have never left their favorite place... You know, I imagine the "Allô la planète" program on France-Inter...
    Very friendly, with stories and impressions of passionate people.

    Ciao and good bubbles!

    PS. It will be Tioman for me in 15 days. I was there 8 years ago, I hope the island has kept its special charm!

  5. "Children's books make a bigger impression on us than adult books, don't they?"
    I agree with you. Maybe it's because we're more permeable as children, and maybe it's also because a children's book that appeals is one that's been read and reread. Like your "Paris-Peking by Trans-Siberian Railway". So it's a book that has a little music to it (even more so when read aloud). It insinuates itself into us. It opens much wider doors, imaginary and inner journeys behind the images and words. Whether they're funny, sensitive or serious. And it's brilliant!
    I hope the landscapes you'll discover one day along the Trans-Siberian Railway will be as beautiful as your imaginary ones. Personally, I was a little disappointed when I discovered the real rue Broca, a street I had fantasized about after reading and rereading Les Contes de la rue Broca (by Pierre Gripari). 😛

  6. @Rod: Ah, yes, "Allô la planète" is often playing in the background at my house in the evening... Bon voyage to Tioman!!!!

    @Married: Yes, there are very few of my "adult" books that I've reread with the same passion as some of my "children's" books. I'm laughing in front of my screen, because we've obviously devoured the same bestsellers in children's literature, and I must confess to having experienced the same disappointment on discovering rue Mouffetard... (because of "La sorcière de la rue Mouffetard", which is one of the "Contes de la rue Broca", if I'm not mistaken).

  7. There is a really nice film about China made in the 50s and colorized.
    "The kite at the end of the world
    Bravo for the little bubbles... of air.

  8. Very interesting...thank you. I also recommend another book, by Geraldine Dunbar, "Alone on the Trans-Siberian, 1001 lives from Moscow to Vladivostok", published by Transboréal. A very moving account. A+, Olivier.

  9. @Fabrice: That would make a great trip, Mongolia... Otherwise, I imagine that for Indonesia, you're talking about the cost of the flight from Polynesia (where you live, if I'm not mistaken)? As for the mag, yes, I saw it and downloaded it a while ago... but I haven't had the time to really delve into it yet. Now that I'm on vacation, I'll finally be able to discover it in peace!!!
    @ogauthier: Thanks also for the reading suggestion!

    @lePierrot: You should find some of your own memories in this book ...

  10. I'd looked into taking the Trans-Siberian Railway back to France. Well, it's not cheap for a trip from Beijing to Paris! It costs 1000€ for a week's travel, including visa, food and tickets. So I'm flying home 😀

  11. The books we read when we are children mark us forever.
    It was Jules Verne and Hergé who made me want to travel the world.

    I recounted my trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a childhood dream, in this blog and in a book so that my children would have a dream in the future:


  12. It's true that it's not cheap, but it must be a superb trip, especially when you see the pictures and the travellers' stories!

  13. @henribo: Thank you for this testimony and share the link !!! This trip in particular is really a dream machine ...
    @Amandine: Ah, I see on your blog that you've put the Trans-Siberian Railway on your "to do list"...

  14. Drawings by the author of Mimi Cracra?! That's quite a big file you've got there! Mimi Cracra and I were great pals... and now I hear she's traveling 🙂

    I would completely fall for this album. You have to take on those kinds of regressive urges, right?