"On the way back, in the crush of carriages returning via the lakeshore, the barouche was obliged to slow to a walk. At one point the congestion became so bad that it was even forced to a stop. The sun was setting...A last ray of sunlight descending from the distant heights of the falls threaded its way along the carriageway, bathing the long line of stalled carriages in a pale reddish light. Glimmers of gold and bright flashes from the wheels seemed to cling to the straw-yellow trim of the barouche, whose deep blue side panels reflected bits of the surrounding landscape... Only the horses--a superb pair of bays--snorted with impatience...The carriages remained motionless. Here and there amid the series of featureless dark patches formed by the long line of broughams — quite numerous in the Bois de Boulogne that autumn afternoon — shone the corner of a mirror or the bit of a horse or the silvered handle of a lantern or the gold braids of a footman sitting high up on his seat. Occasionally one caught a glimpse of female finery in an open landau, a flash of silk here or velvet there... Despite the lateness of the season, all Paris was there: Duchess von Sternich in an "eight-spring", Mme de Lauwerens in a quite handsomely rigged victoria; Baroness von Meinhold in a ravishing reddish-brown hansom cab; Countess Wanska, with her piebald ponies; Mme Daste and her famous black "steppers", Mme de Guende and Mme Teissiere, in a brougham; and little Sylvia in a dark blue landau... the duchesse de Rozan in a coupé égoïste with white-speckled livery; the comte de Chibray, in a dogcart; Mr. Simpson in the most elegant of coaches; the whole American colony; and, bringing up the rear, two academicians in a fiacre.
The first carriages finally succeeded in extricating themselves, and one by one the whole line slowly began to move...A thousand lights began to dance, flashes darted among the wheels, and harnesses glinted as teams strained against their traces...the glitter of harnesses and wheels, the amber glow of polished panels set ablaze by the setting sun, the shrill accents added by splendid liveries set up high against the open sky and sumptuous finery spilling out over carriage doors--all of this was swept along in a dull rumble, punctuated only by the hoofbeats of trotting horses. The whole parade moved steadily along in a uniform motion, sights and sounds unvarying from first to last, as if the lead carriages were pulling the rest after them...Reaching the edge of the lake...the carriages turned with agile grace..."
La promenade en voiture, a painting by Eugène Guérard, around 1855
National Car and Tourism Museum, Compiègne © RMN-Grand Palais