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THE CONTINENT BY MOTOR CAR, ACCORDING TO WALKERLEY PART 2

RODNEY WALKERLEY ENJOYED being an Englishman traveling in post-war Europe. We continue here in Part 2 with his cogent commentary gleaned from Motoring Abroad, accompanied by Brockbank’s witty illustrations. There’s even a bit of my own serendipity. 

On Touring. Walkerley observed, “I can think of little more worth staring at, at this moment, than an Alp, or Rheims cathedral, or the River Rhône, or the Château of Chambord, or a really good entrecôte grillé in the shadow of a bottle of Chambertin….”

“Practically everything… is a thing to stare at.” This and other images from Motoring Abroad.

On Paris. “You have to admit,” Walkerley wrote, “there is something about Paris…. the place which makes chaps smirk, not to say leer, if one mentions that one is popping over to Paris for a few days, rather as if one had said one were running down to Brighton for a week-end, although there are certain noticeable differences between the British watering place and the French capital.” 

“—Ca, c’est Paris—”

“It is a maddening, even somewhat alarming place to drive about in,” Walkerley observed, “until you get the swing of the thing, one of the considerations being that as distinct from, say, London, where the police are a little shocked if you get a move one, the Paris flics blow whistles, wave rolling pins and do a little dance of agitation if you don’t step on it smartish….”

“There is great age and everlasting youth in Paris,” Walkerley said, “its streets do not bustle, they effervesce. Paris is like champagne, beautiful, costly, sparkling and gay, Paris is—Paris.”

The Swiss Alps. Walkerley recalled, “… my first beholding of the Alps, far off, hanging, it seemed, midway between earth and heaven, blindingly white, unbelievably beautiful, and still the best part of 100 miles away.”

“Summer time… holiday… sunshine… mountains… sweeping alpine panoramas… no petrol rationing… good inns… fine food… crystallized in one picture among the Swiss Alps.” 

The Col di Tende. Walkerley observed, “People who come back from Italy at the end of an English summer, looking, as the advertisements say, bronzed and fit, are inclined to be a little on the insufferable side; I know I am.” 

Walkerley cites familiar routes into Italy “which have been practically rutted with the tyres of tourists cars.” These are the St. Gotthard Pass, the Simplon Pass, and the Grand St. Bernard Pass.

I take special delight, though, in reading Walkerley’s description of another option, “which does not appear to be very well known. If you are on the Riviera and you wish to go over to Turin and Milan or across to the lovely Italian lakes, which are a dream world of beauty, the way lies from Mentone, over the Col di Tende and through Cuneo….”

Not to be insufferable, but see SimanaitisSays “L’Italie Pittoresque, 1905.” ds  

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022

3 comments on “THE CONTINENT BY MOTOR CAR, ACCORDING TO WALKERLEY PART 2

  1. Most amusing, I sought out copies of the books after reading your description and look forward to reading them.

  2. Andrew G.
    May 11, 2022

    The name Walkerley may have planted a suggestion in my brain, but the alpine motoring photo instantly triggered the thought of Rob Walker’s Delahaye.

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