A Literary Tour de France

Favarger's Route

This contour map shows all of Favarger’s main stops during his tour de France from July to December 1778.  The road across the Jura Mountains from Neuchâtel to Pontarlier was especially hard going in the eighteenth century, and heavy rains made the trails in western France so difficult that Favarger’s horse kept collapsing.  He sold it in Poitiers and made it back to Neuchâtel in wintry weather on a sturdier mount.

Smuggling from Le Brassus

Guillon l’aîné operated his “insurance” business from this area of the Swiss-French border.  The books traveled in bales by barge and wagon from Neuchâtel to Rolle and then up the steep slopes of the Jura Mountains to Le Brassus, where they were transferred into packs weighing 60 pounds and lugged across the border by teams of porters to a secret storage facility somewhere near Clairvaux-les-lacs.  If caught, the porters could be branded and sent to the galleys, and Guillon would reimburse the STN for the value of the merchandise

Smuggling from Les Verrières

Wagonloads of books left Neuchâtel and passed through the “Trou de Bourgogne” (Hole of Burgundy, meaning the Franche-Comté de Bourgogne) at the eastern slope of the Jura Mountains.  Then they followed the rugged road up the Val de Travers to Môtiers, Saint Sulpice, and Les Verrières.  If they contained no illegal works, they passed through the border station at Frambourg, where they were sealed and received a customs certificate (acquit à caution), which would be discharged when they arrived for inspection at a “ville d’entrée” such as Lyon and Besançon.  If they contained dangerously illegal books, they were often backpacked by smugglers from Les Verrières to clandestine entrepôts in or near Pontarlier.  Ignace Faivre, a bookseller in Pontarlier, handled many shipments for the STN and other Swiss publishers.  When he could get away with it, he ran an “insurance” operation like that of Guillon in the southern Jura borderland.  His porters got a stiff shot of schnaps in Jannet’s tavern in Les Verrières and then hauled packs of books across mountain trails for 25 sols a trip.  Faivre insured the shipments for 15 percent of their value.

The political geography of France as illustrated on a map from 1762