My characters do a lot of traveling in The Secrets of a Scoundrel, so there came a point in the writing where I had to do a lot of work on logistics for this book. Thankfully, I had my Regency-buff colleagues in RWA's Beau Monde chapter to provide a few handy suggestions (special thanks to the members living in Europe who know the ground well).
Without giving away any spoilers, there's a point where Nick has to move a large cargo of goods as quickly as possible from outside Paris down to the Mediterranean. One small problem. Make that not so small. Namely, the Massif Central of France. A magnificent, rugged mountain range full of gorges and canyons in the middle of southern France. Incredibly rough and formidable terrain.
Add to that, many roads in France (and much of the Continent) during and after the Napoleonic years were also damaged by the war, further slowing transport.
But even if Nick could load his cargo into a big, heavy wagon and set out with a team of four or even six horses, in such a remote region of France, it would have been impossible for him to change horses on a regular basis. The poor beasts would have to negotiate steep, pitted mountain roads for a couple hundred miles without relief. This was not like posting the well-traveled route between Calais and Paris, with livery stables at regular intervals. This was out in the elbow of nowhere, as they say, and what good, stout-hearted French farmer would be eager to trade horses to help out a stray Englishman just a couple of years after a bloody war between their countries? Nick would be more likely to be lynched by the locals if he wasn't careful!
Thankfully, my savvy Beau Monde friends offered the solution. One that, to be honest, would not have occurred to me because it's so far outside the realm of my everyday paradigm. Nick could take the cargo on canal boats!
::::forehead slap:::: Of course!
The Rhone River flows right through the Massif Central. (Sorry, I don't know how to make one of those pointy "hat" circumflex accents over the o in Rhone, but it belongs there.)
My European readers might wonder why I didn't think of it immediately. But canal boat touring is not a top holiday choice here the way it is across the Pond. Probably too slow for most Americans, lol. In the old days, pre-steam train, canal boats were vital for transporting goods around the interior of a country. Nowadays, you can rent them for a vacation. Doesn't that look wonderful?
So, the problem was solved, and when you're reading that whole travel section in Secrets of a Scoundrel, you might like to keep in mind that it involved so much research that it nearly sent Your Humble Author running out screaming into the night, lol. But, hey, I sure learned a lot! So, I hope you enjoy the little historical armchair travel while you're reading. And thanks for reading, by the way!
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