Here is an extract from: The Young Farmer, Some Things He Should Know, Thomas F. Hunt, Published by, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Limited, 1913.
Chapter 18: FACILITIES FOR FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION
“…. the United States is still behind other nations in the matter of means of local transportation… In France, the so-called messagers are a common feature of local traffic. Thus in the Department of Touraine there are 246 towns each having from one to four messagers, who with their great two-wheel carts, each with single draft horse, make one or two trips to Tours each week. The messagers carry freight both ways precisely in the same capacity as railroads do. While the railroads are fairly abundant these local agencies continue to thrive because delivery can be made directly to the consignee and delivery at the exact time and place is more certain. The enormous loads conveyed in these two-wheel carts by one horse is an element in this system to which the good roads of France now contribute. In 1799, France had constructed 25,000 miles of roadway. Since that time, over 300,000 miles of roadway have been completed and about 30,000 miles of railway have been constructed – ten miles of roadway for each mile of steam railway. The good roads of France are of comparatively recent origin, contributing materially to the improvement in well-being which has taken place during the same period.”
At agricultural fairs in the area there are often displays of teams of oxen. I presume these were also used by the Touraine messagers when delivering goods locally. When I read the above, descriptions of carnage from All Quite on the Western Front also came to mind and it is sobering to think that rural France was soon to be engulfed by the horrors of mechanised 20th century warfare.