"Voyage au nord du pays de Galles"

Name of traveller

Arthur D'Arcis

Reason for travel

  • travelling as cultural tourist, reporting back to the Geographical Society of Geneva

Date of travel

undated, ca. 1886

Admirablement bâtie, aux magasins élégants et aux hôtels princiers, Llandudno est l’enfant gâté de l’aristocratie anglaise. (d'Arcis 45)


  • agriculture:
    • notes crops of wheat, rye, oats, vegetables and potatoes
    • pastures
    • sheep, cows and horses of small stature
    • Mostyn family estate grows fruit trees, artichokes and a laurel tree the likes of which he has only ever seen around Florence
  • architecture:
    • description of the Flint Castle ruin
    • Conwy Castle found to have oriental features
    • description of cottages and their interior in Holywell all looking more or less the same: whitewashing, flowers in garden, description of interior and furniture
    • Britannia Bridge and Menai Bridge described as main attractions
    • description of bridge by Inigo Jones (1573-1652) in Llanrwst
    • references to a mental institution in Denbigh
  • clothing:
    • description of Welsh costume worn by women in Caernarfon during a journey ten years ealier: black skirt, red coat, Welsh hat
    • notes that Welsh dress is no longer worn in north Wales and can only be found in the south
    • dismissive of young women in Wales following fashion instead of wearing national costume
  • customs:
    • homes are left open because the people are not afraid of burglars; sign of honesty rather than poverty
    • relates legends about St Winifred and Gelert
    • pleased to see that Catholics are respected in an ultra-Protestant place
    • religious difference seen as manifestation of Welsh autonomy
    • favourite instrument in Wales is the harp; manufacture in Llanrwst
    • description of coracles and comparisons to boats used on the Rhône
    • discussion of drunkeness observed in Wales and England
  • diet: unsophisticated and difficult to get decent food
  • industry:
    • coal industry in Flintshire blackens the landscape
    • wool industry and foundries
    • notes on Penrhyn slate production and depressing appearance of quarries
  • language:
    • population in Rhyl speaks English
    • English is the language of business and government
    • Welsh language described as thriving and suitable for song, poetry and preaching
  • people:
    •  the Welsh population is similar to the Swiss: both experience hiraeth
    • finds refuge in a cottage during a storm, but owners refuse to take payment for lodging
    • conversations with locals: lifeboat man, Welsh fusilier
    • mention of Felicia Hemans (1793-1835)
  • recreation:
    • recommends trips on horseback, which he has undertaken himself many times
    • provides tips for prospective tourists to Rhyl: entertainment, Punch & Judy, orchestras
    • Rhyl beach described as classless place
    • good hospitality services provided in the Caernarfon area
    • notes with surprise that Welsh hotels (and homes) provide slippers for guests
  • terrain:
    • compares the road from Chester to Caernarfon to the Route de la Corniche
    • claims that it is not true that it is always raining in Britain, but provides many references to bad weather
    • has observed a generally good climate during four separate visits, in three different seasons
    • Rhyl noted for its good shops and street lighting in the evening
    • sudden change in landscape around Denbighsire with greater abundance of flowers and better houses
    • Caernarfon described as a flourishing town for business, tourism and industry
    • frequent comparisons of Snowdonia with the Swiss Alps
  • transport:
    • modes of travel: horse; train
    • on entering Denbighshire, the main road is very close to the sea
    • mentions the Pensarn train crash of 1868 and notes victims' graves in Abergele cemetery
    • new road in operation at Penmaenmawr
    • recommends others make the journey from Geneva to Rhyl
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Nationality of traveller


Language of publication


Gender of traveller


Type of publication

letter, report, travelogue


[D'Arcis, Arthur]. "Voyage au nord du pays de Galles." Le Globe: Journal géographique. Bulletin 6 (1887): 34-51, 54-68. Print.