I’m sure I’ve mentioned my obsession with 19th-century guidebooks before (well, I most certainly did in last week’s episode of Sandy’s Podchatter! Talk about being lost in France! *g*), and among the “Secrets of CASTLE OF THE WOLF” on my website there’s a lengthy article on travels on the Rhine, which also contains a section on guide books and another with excerpts from MURRAY’S HANDBOOK FOR TRAVELLERS ON THE CONTINENT: NORTHERN GERMANY (1845).

As I said in the aforementioned podcast episode, I find guide books incredibly helpful when it comes to everyday facts and details, e.g., things like how to obtain a passport, where to go shopping, or how much taking a hackney costs. Therefore it can come as no surprise that when I plan a new book, I try and get a guide book of the city/area which will act as the main setting. Thus, for the two paranormal historicals I’m planning to write after BETRAYAL, I’ve already got two guide books of Paris and in the past two days I bought two guidebooks for Northern Italy. Furthermore, I also ordered Baedeker’s TRAVELLER’S MANUAL OF CONVERSATION and a guide book of Yorkshire (well, it was sort of cheap — and who knows whether I might not want to set one of my future stories in Yorkshire! You have to be prepared, right?).

The beginning of BAEDEKER’S PARIS AND ITS ENVIRONS (1884) certainly sounds promising:

Travellers with luggage-tickets have usually about 10 min. to wait till the baggage is all arranged for distribution on the long tables in the Salle de Bagages. This interval should be employed in engaging one of the fiacres or cabs which are in waiting outside the station. (The cabs in the first row are generally pre-engaged.) After receiving the driver’s number and telling him to wait for the luggage (‘restez pour attendre les bagages’), the traveller may proceed to superintend the examination of luggage […]. Hand-bags and rugs should not be lost sight of, or deposited in the cab, before the traveller is himself ready to take his seat, as there are numerous thieves on the look-out for such opportunities.

As soon as the traveller is released from the custom-house examination, he should secure the services of a porter (facteur, 25-50c.), telling him the number of the fiacre engaged. The fare from the station into the town during the day is 1 1/2 fr. for a cab with seats for two, and 2 fr. for one with seats for four persons; at night the fares are 2 1/4 and 2 1/2 fr. respectively. The charge for each trunk or other large article of luggage is 25c. […]. When the driver has had to wait more than 1/4 hr. the fare per hour is charged.

The Omnibus de Famille is a comfortable conveyance for families or large parties, and may be ordered by letter the day before arrival, either from a hotel or from the Chef du Bureau des Omnibus at the station where the traveller is to alight.

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