We head out of Limoges towards the ski resort of Le Lioran in Auvergne, in the heart of the mountains of the Massif Central. Along the way, we drop briefly into the valley of the Dordogne, which we won’t see again this year, so it’s time to talk about gabarres.
The gabarre is a traditional wooden transport ship on the Dordogne, used up to the 19th century to transport goods from Limousin and Auvergne down the river to Bordeaux. The river where we encountered it on today’s stage was not regularly navigable by large boats, which would normally depart from the area around Argentat, laden with timber floated down the river. As in the United States, the rise of the railway led to the demise of inland water transportation on the Dordogne, and hydroelectric dams (as we saw yesterday in the Haute-Vienne) litter the valley above Argentat nowadays.
A culture of boatmen, les gabariers, arose around this trade. This culture has been extensively explored by Anne-Marie Cocula-Vaillières in her books and articles. I’m particularly excited to look deeper into her analysis of the diaries of one of these boatman from the 17th century.
A stunning breakaway ride from the Belgians Greg van Avermaet and Thomas de Gendt led us away from the Dordogne and into the mountains at Le Lioran.
- “The expansion of inland water transport” http://norbert.fr/
Cocula, Anne-Marie. “L’activité d’un maître de bateau sur la Dordogne au milieu du XVIIe siècle.” Annales du Midi: revue archéologique, historique et philologique de la France méridionale 82, no. 96 (1970): 21-43.
Gilles, Bernard. “Une rivière et une société: la Dordogne. A.-M. Cocula-Vaillieres, Les gens de la rivière de Dordogne.” Revue géographique des Pyrénées et du Sud-Ouest 51, no. 1 (1980): 87-89.