Embarking aboard Tara

© F.Latreille/Tara Expéditions

Chronicle of Clémence Lesacq, winner of the Libé-Apaj writing contest  

Embarking aboard Tara

Sunday, September 28

I’ve always thought trains were designed for contemplative travelers. Everything about trains satisfies those who like looking at the scenery. Planes fly too high up and fulfill curious people only during the brief minutes of take-off and landing. In between, a blank void with small portholes allowing little escape. The hours above the clouds always seem a bit empty and sad. As for traveling by car, it often leaves one feeling unsatisfied. People rarely take the small, bumpy country roads. These days we drive on highways, follow road signs without taking in the scenery. Gray asphalt. White lines. Dangerous guardrails. A definite impression of déjà-vu.

But a train meanders through painting-like scenery. Fields, forests, towns, rivers and places you’ll never know. All shades of blond and green are represented. Impossible to escaep the view, the walls are a succession of windows. Huge wide screens. Opening on the outside. Often the rails are slightly above the landscape, offering an even wider horizon. Fast, the high-speed train doesn’t let you get too attached to each place. The traveler’s ideas meet no obstacles. Looking out the window of a train frees the mind to effortlessly wander.

But what about a boat, a real boat, the kind with sails? Not a cruise ship that looks like a big apartment building, and not a Formula 1 of the sea. A boat that masters and is simultaneously subjected to the water – currents, tides, weather conditions. I’ve never voyaged on a schooner, never experienced a crossing, or spent several days away from land. I only know the frothy version of the sea seen from the beach. Will the days seem long and all the same? Blue sky, blue sea, blue horizon intermingling?

In less than 2 hours I’ll be in Marseille. One more hour and I’ll be face to face with Tara. I’m still savoring the train a little bit, before meeting the boat. Reassuring myself by a familiar thing, before discovering the unknown. In my handbag, a box of “Mercalm” (motion sickness medicine). Just in case.


Clémence Lesacq


About the author:

In July 2014, Clémence Lesacq won the Tara prize in a writing competition organized by the newspaper Libération and the Association for Aid to Young Authors (Libé-Apaj). This year’s theme was “On the road and byways.”

Click here to read her prize-winning text “Dawn of the journey.” Clémence will voyage aboard Tara for 12 days between Marseilles and Naples, and will regularly send Chronicles from the schooner.