Diligence Travelers

French diligence
Thomas Rowlandson’s The Paris Diligence, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The French diligence coach was a Frenchman’s main public conveyance. Some people thought it equivalent to its English counterpart, the stage coach. One writer claimed that the diligence coach was “a huge, heavy, lofty, lumbering machine, something between an English stage and a broad-wheeled waggon.” English stage-coaches were equipped with two qualities of seating — inside and outside — whereas the French diligence coach in comparison had four sections, with three — the coupe, the interieur, the rotonde — essentially joined together forming the inside and the banquette on top above the coupe. That may have been partly why the French diligence was soon found from Austria to Russia and from Italy to Holland. Because of the French diligence’s prevalence, many nineteenth century travelers rode in them and offered opinions about their experience. Continue reading

Diligence Coach

Traveling in France in a diligence coach, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Traveling in France, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The diligence coach was a Frenchman’s main public conveyance. It was equivalent to its English counterpart, the stage coach. It falls into the category of a traveling coach and was used in the 1700 and 1800s to travel long distances throughout continental Europe. It was a solidly-built coach pulled by four or more horses. One early description of the diligence coach stated that “the body of the carriage rests upon large thongs of leather, fastened to heavy blocks of wood, instead of springs, and the whole is drawn by seven horses.” Eventually, however, diligence coaches traveling between Paris and Lyons were the first to be “fitted with springs.”

The diligence coach also traveled at six or seven miles an hour, and how they traveled that quickly is amazing as the diligence was usually laden down with people and luggage:

Upon the roof, on the outside, is the imperial, which is generally filled with six or seven persons more, and a heap of luggage, which latter also occupies the basket, and generally presents a pile, half as high again as the coach, which is secured by ropes and chains, tightened by a large iron windlass, which also constitutes another appendage of this moving mass.

To drive the moving mass and steer the horses, the coachman’s spot was described as “every where — sometimes on the dickey — then on the top — then on one of the wheel-horses; and, in going up hill, two or three rods behind the diligence.” That was partly because early diligence coaches placed the coachman’s perch well behind the rear axles. Continue reading