The Trip of Le Horla - Summary

The Trip of Le Horla is a short story by Guy de  Maupassant about the author's ride in a hot air balloon.  Three travellers and three crew members start their journey in the evening from Paris to Heyst.  The author describes in detail every step right from inflating the balloon to their landing at the Belgian border. 

 As the balloon rises, they see Paris spreading out beneath them.  It is a strange feeling of leaving the world behind.  The author graphically describes every sight, sound and smell they get.  Using a bag of sand as ballast they rise and fall and adjust their height. 

The manoeuvring of the balloon is described in detail.  The balloon is very sensitive and it is a slave of the wind. They witness the sunset, and moonrise.  They travel with the moon under the starry sky while the land below is covered with mist.  They see the shadow of the balloon following them along the landscape. 

There is a storm that is following them but the captain doesn't tell them about it.  He is afraid that this would cause panic.  Just in time, before hitting the sea, they land in a field where Belgian peasants welcome them.  They pack up their materials and reach the station at Heyst from where they take the morning train to Paris.

The unique feeling and experience of travelling in a balloon through the calm night sky is presented in the story with great mastery.  The reader almost experiences the same thoughts and feelings of the travellers.  It is a masterly and skilful narration that conveys the travel experience through visual, auditory and olfactory images.


  1. Sorry to say. But it is not a hot air balloon. It was a hydrogen balloon. We can understand it from three places.
    1) The gas entering the balloon making it grow
    2) The valve to let the gas escape when they want to come down.
    3) The gas escaping the balloon at one time.

    1. Anonymous23:09

      The introduction to the chapter says clearly that it is a hot air balloon.

  2. Anonymous21:48

    Very short so Very thankful to the writer


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