Albert Badoureau's Scandinavian trip

In the summer of 1892 Badoureau made a two-month trip to Scandinavia which was, partly enjoyment and partly scientific. He submitted a geology paper on the causes of the Scandinavian uplift to the Academy of Sciences in Paris, and some time later gave a lecture to the Académie d'Amiens on 26 January 1894. We give a version of the introduction to his lecture. After the introduction, he read the paper he had submitted to the Paris Academy of Sciences on 27 November 1893.

Notes on a trip to Scandinavia

During the summer of 1892 I took a delightful two-month walk in Scandinavia, and on my return some of you very kindly asked me to tell you about my trip. I have brought back mountains of notes with which I could bore you during a dozen sessions, if I dared to speak of this modest excursion before a traveller who has been to the North Pole, to the centre of the earth or to the moon.

I love Norway and gladly say with its inhabitants
Ja vi elsker dette landet.
It's only a slice of Switzerland, but it's the one from the top. There are meadows which are real bouquets of flowers lightened by a little grass, lovely birch woods with light falling foliage, dark forests of Scots pines, waterfalls at every step ... (which are not thirsty, I assure you, like their sisters in the Alps or the Pyrenees), a sky of a truly surprising clarity when it is not raining, several plateaus eternally covered with immaculate snow and each extending over several myriametres [ten kilometres] square, and glaciers that almost descend into the sea.

The people are extremely civilised: the telephone is, in the cities, much more widespread than at home and I found it, not without being surprised, in the most deserted countryside; the application of the law on compulsory primary education does not raise any difficulty, even among the Lapps who are the Redskins of Norway, in spite of the great distances which usually separate the school from the dwelling; the free schools give the children baths every fortnight, cold in summer, hot in winter; there are no more drunkards thanks to the monopolisation of the sale of alcohol in the hands of companies which give almost all their profits to the communes; the Protestant religion is very much in honour there and on Sundays all houses resound to religious songs.

It is very convenient to travel there by steamboat, rowing boat or carriages. The carriol is a small chair with stirrups carried on an axle. The Isabelline horse harnessed to it, with the hoof on its very foot the car's only brake, never stumbles no matter what the slope, and the old Norwegian paths always go straight like our old national roads. When you're a little used to it, dizzying descents are a lot of fun.

Except in the big cities, the hotels give for 4, 5 or at most 7 francs a day, three gargantuan meals and the lodging in rooms whose cleanliness would make a Dutchman blush.

State-regulated carts do not skin the traveller either.

Wine alone is very expensive, but it can be replaced by beer, milk and sparkling lemonade. In summary, on condition of being provided against the very abundant and very frequent rain, especially on the west coast, the very numerous mosquitos in Finmark from 14 July to 15 August, the absence of a pharmacist in the countryside, and the inexplicable lack of curtains in hotel rooms, a trip to Norway is easy, fun and economical.

We meet herds of reindeer and whales alive, dead and skinned. A whale residue is an enormous and filthy object which has no name in any language.

In the long days, we see everywhere clear at midnight and if we are close enough to the North Cape we even contemplate the sun, except of course if there are clouds. I had the pleasure, M Verne, to write a note to you at midnight aboard the "Mira" and mail it a few hours later in Hammerfest, the northernmost city in the world. Thank you for your kindness in having it published by the newspapers of our city.

Last Updated January 2021