Erasmus in Parijs and Serris

“Here stood the Collège de Montaigu, founded in 1314. Erasmus of Rotterdam lived there in 1495-1496” (Ici s’élevait le Collège de Montaigu, fondé en 1314. Erasme de Rotterdam y fut pensionnaire en 1495-1496) states the plaque opposite the Panthéon in Paris. It does not say that Erasmus and the other residents spoke of the vinegar college, because of the bad food of rotten eggs and the like and because of the many fleas. And Erasmus, as a student, thought the education there was just old-fashioned.

Nearby is Rue Érasme, along which the side walls of the École Nationale Superieure. There is no through traffic, but there is a Vélib station; Vélib is the Parisian share bike I depend on because my own faithful steed has a flat tire; Erasmus would rent a horse then, too. On that street I talk to some students, most of whom know that Erasmus was a humanist philosopher, of whom they haven’t actually read anything, but “maybe someone else can tell you more”; they walk along to show me the entrance on the Rue d’Ulm. One student, on the other hand, is not even aware of the name of the street.

In Serris, 35 km east of Paris, there is the new Val d’Europe business district. There lies the Bâtiment Érasme of the Université Gustave Eiffel, which houses the Institut Francilien d’Ingénierie des Services. Engineering schools are not Erasmian par excellence, so the group of students I speak to at the door do not know much about him. Some find this ignorance somewhat embarrassing anyway and turn around to “secretly” consult their phones. They were all impressed by my bike ride, though, and were happy to take a picture of me and my bike under the name Erasme.

Val d’Europe is very European: the Erasmus building is on the corner of Rue de l’Ode à la joie (Ode to Joy Street) and a little further on, for lovers of yet other culture, EuroDisney is located.

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