Women’s travels in Europe

Carla Serena (1824-1884) in Mingrelia (province of modern-day Georgia), from Marie Dronsart’s Les Grandes Voyageuses, 1904. © BnF-Gallica.


Despite material conditions that made it difficult for women to travel, they took an active part in travelling beginning with the period of the Grand Tour. With the development of modern means of transportation during the nineteenth century, along with transformations in tourism (spas, winter resorts, seaside resorts), women took part in the gentrification of travel and its eventual opening up to the masses. Women travellers also explored various territories quite early on, visiting ones that were, if not forbidden, then at least deemed inhospitable. Moreover, they gradually imposed their way of travelling: a voyage to the Orient or a cruise, the natural setting of the Great North or the desert, among others. During the twentieth century, women seized upon new forms of transportation, beginning with the bike and the automobile, thereby asserting their independence.