Friday, August 12, 2016

Carte Postale : A French Souvenir that Fits in a Suitcase

When I visited France with a group of women, shopping was high on our list of activities. 
If I could do it over again, I'd probably buy more goodies but, at the time, 
I had a very small suitcase and an even smaller budget.

So I bought old postcards.
Beautiful images of France caught in time.

But not just any touristy postcards. I bought postcards with history.
Here's an old black and white postcard of Notre Dame's famous rose window,
just as dramatic as today's cards that reveal its brilliant colors.

As I scoured the markets for old postcards,
I remembered reading that the first printed picture postcard with an image on one side
was actually in France in 1870.

These cards had no space for stamps and no evidence they were ever mailed,
at least not without an envelope.
Wikipedia had told me these postcards were of Camp Conlie,
a training camp for soldiers in the Franco-Prussian War.

You can't find that kind of history on a rack of shiny new postcards
although the artwork is gorgeous. 

When I returned home, I chose four of the old postcards to frame 
(the timeworn leather frame came from Goodwill for a couple of dollars).

I think it looks perfect in this vignette in my office.

A little side table is a fun way to showcase old postcards under glass.
(The table was an estate sale score!)

The pictures on the front of these old postcards are so evocative and . . .

the handwriting on the back is beautiful.
Can anyone read what it says?

What's a postcard from Paris without an image of the Eiffel Tower? 
The tower was completed around 1890 and postcards featuring it gave rise
to the "golden age" of picture postcards.

Oh, yes. There were other famous postcards from France. 
In fact, they were called "French" postcards since most of these pictures of nude women 
were produced in France. 
This one is not as naughty than most of them.

You can date old postcards by noticing specific things in the pictures. 
For instance, if the picture includes motorcars, it probably is no older than the early 1900s 
when cars became more commonplace. 

This one shows horse-and-buggy traffic on the Champs Elysees. 

Fashions, building styles, street names of famous people, war memorials, handwriting style, 
black and white or hand colored are all ways to date an old card.

This is a dreamy new postcard of an old scene . . .
a lovely reminder of an incredible trip to a romantic city. 

Old postcards or cartes postales are an easy way
to bring a little French history home in your suitcase.


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  1. Fun ideas for this reader who loves Paris. '-)

  2. Fabulous old postcards and I love the framed ones in your study. I have a signed etching my grandfather bought many decades ago whilst in Paris of Notre Dame's Rose Window, I truly love it. The postcard, is dated 7 February 1914 and simply says, we've arrived in Paris, hugs for you. A gorgeous postcard. X

    1. Thank you Susan. Lucky you to have your grandfather's Notre Dame etching. What a treasure. I appreciate your translating the postcard. I hope you enjoy your weekend.

  3. Love the idea of postcards! Did you go on an organized trip (if so what company) or with friends? Would so love to go to Paris.

    1. Hello and thank you for visiting. Yes, it was an organized trip through Sights and Soul Travels (just for women). You can check them out on their web site. I hope you get to go to Paris. I want to go back!

  4. I've never been to Paris but would love to go. Using these old postcards as part of your beautiful decor is such a great idea. The images are gorgeous and the writing is so romantic. Don't you think?

    1. Thank you very much Stacey. I hope you get to Paris some day. So glad you enjoyed the post. Have a lovely weekend.

  5. Am a lover of all things French...including old post cards! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Catherine! Thank you for stopping by. So glad you enjoy old post cards too. Hope to see you again. Pat

  6. What creative displays! Such a wonderful way to remember your trip! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much Lynn. Yes, I think of France every time I look at one of these old postcards. Have a lovely weekend.

  7. What a great idea if you need to bring back memories from a trip. Love this idea!

  8. I love Paris and what a neat collection you have!....Christine

  9. Love your post cards, Pat! My son has been to France three times and Paris twice. The lucky ducky! He always brings me back mementoes for which I am thankful. Your wall looks lovely and I like the clock too. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Hi Sandi! So nice to hear from you. Thank you for your sweet comments, always appreciated. Your son is indeed a lucky ducky! Does he go for business or pleasure? I need an excuse to go back!

  10. Pat, such a lovely post! The postcards definitely tell a story and a great way to collect without having to buy another piece of luggage!

  11. Thank you very much Pam. That's funny you mentioned buying another piece of luggage. There were several women on our tour who did just that!

  12. Loved your post cards and how you displayed them, no wonder you would love to go back to Paris.
    Our grand daughter was in Europe over summer as an auPair, luckily she was blessed with a wonderful host family. She got to go to several places all over Italy where her host lives plus Paris, Rome, Copenhagen, Greece and just recently before she came back for college, to Swiss Alps. Some trips she went on her own, wow an incredible opportunity for wonderful 19 yr. old. Next summer she goes to Spain for something connected to her school, Divinity college in San Rafael, CA. She has full scholarship for 4 yrs. As you can most likely tell, she is one very intelligent young woman who worked hard all thru her school years, straight A's all thru and she is sweet and pretty.
    It was almost like I was there, seeing your photos, would love to explore that market you showed. No wonder you'd want to go back. Enjoy a wonderful weekend.

    1. I loved reading all about your granddaughter's experience in Europe. Such a wonderful opportunity that she will never forget. You must be so proud of her. The markets are to die for. Someday. Enjoy your weekend.

  13. Oh, what beautiful old cards!

    Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  14. Lovely mementos of your special trip, Pat. Thanks so much for sharing them with us at Vintage Charm :)

  15. What a lovely post! I collect postcards and especially love the vintage ones with a story to tell.
    Your ideas for displaying them are wonderful!
    Our last trip to Paris I mailed a postcard to myself as a souvenir from the little post office under the Eiffel tower so it would have the postmark-and it was there when we got home.