No race-rigged sails bellied out in a sharp wind off Newport, no pitching foredeck; none of that. This is calm adventure, still lifes passing one by one beneath the beamy hull of the good ship "Trout." A strange craft this, 56 feet long, 12 feet wide, a barge. But bound south down the canals of France, she is sailing a leisurely, new avenue of sport. Anyone who makes the run to the Mediterranean in less than, oh, say, seven weeks, is out of the contest, for this is the new game of tourists who play it for serenity and a view of the backyards of Europe. There is wine, there is time, and life imitates art.
Unreeling images like a strip of film across the mind, Artist Gorsline projects the cruise of the "Trout" in panoramic style. Opening with a frosty morning along the Canal de Briare (on page at left), he glides past majesty and minutia: a cathedral, its buttresses flying, ancient stonework, arching bridges, a town that crowns a hill. Then he adds the interplay of the route: barge to barge and, of course, café to café.
The town of Herry, seen in profile from canalside.
Like obedient pets leashed to trees, barges wait at a lock.
June 4, 1972
Passings: some afloat, some acycle.
Passings: some personal, and stoic.
Passings: some professional, as at Chalon gate.
A lock—one of 174—the waterway's key.
Even the names adopt the rhythms of the voyage, as the Rhone meets the Sa√¥ne. Castles loom and recede, the waters widen and the journey becomes a cruise. The grand bridge at Avignon is sighted, and finally the "Trout" spills out at Port St. Louis. Welcome to the Mediterranean.
Sum it up as the most peaceful of pursuits, the most languid of excitements—motion at, perhaps, a perfect pace. The same trip can be made in three days in an automobile. So what.