French Postcards from the Early 20th Century

David & I are down in Provence for the week at his mom’s cousin’s (Bobby & Martine) house in Sarrians, in the département of Vaucluse. The weather is perfect (hot and sunny), the sound of the cigales (cicadas) is so relaxing, and we have trips to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Salon-de-Provence, Aix-en-Provence and L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue planned. I have no idea why there are so many hyphens in these names.

Last year, we went to  Avignon, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Roussillon, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Orange, and Vaison la Romaine; my pictures are here.

Today we went to the big Provençal market in Bédoin, where I limited myself to only spending 6 €. This afternoon, we were looking at some old postcards that were sent between the eventual grandparents of Martine around the time of World War I (most of them date to 1914.) I think they are the coolest things ever. [Click on images for full size pictures.]

A sampling of the fake color photos on French postcards of the early 20th century

Happy New Year, April Fool’s, French Army, and babies in a bag.

Lesson for boys: Romantic things to say.

French penmanship. Can you read this?

Even if you can read the words, can you understand what it means?  “Je viens de recevoir ta lettre à l’instant et je te fais réponse de suite pour te tranquilliser au sujet de ta lettre du 1er août. Je ne t’en parles pas sur ta dernière lettre car ce n’est qu’à la derniere que je te fais réponse…” Uh, what?

The best part was finding a series of postcards with this guy on them:

“Look honey, I’m opening your letter with care.”

“And now I’m holding it close to my heart.”

“And now I am actually reading it with this ridiculous smile on my face.”

“It’s a new day, as evidenced by my suddenly green tie, and I’m writing you back with this large feather pen and a pensive, yet still corny, look on my face.”

“And to prove how much I love you, I’m including a FLOWER in my letter!”

Like I said, these postcards are the coolest things ever.

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  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com/ L

    B’s parents have some postcards from the great-grandparents during WWI and they are equally illegible to me. One of them, from the great-grandmother to the great-grandfather (before they were married), says that she feels her heart turning towards his. Isn’t that a great old fashioned way to say ‘I think I like you”?!

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com/ L

    B’s parents have some postcards from the great-grandparents during WWI and they are equally illegible to me. One of them, from the great-grandmother to the great-grandfather (before they were married), says that she feels her heart turning towards his. Isn’t that a great old fashioned way to say ‘I think I like you”?!

  • Noelia

    Uh! The old poscards are funny!

    I don’t remember exactly, but there is a grammar rule about the hyphens in the name of town, when the name is composed. It belongs together or something. (I’ve never been good at grammar, in any languages, because nothing ever made sense to me…)

  • Noelia

    Uh! The old poscards are funny!

    I don’t remember exactly, but there is a grammar rule about the hyphens in the name of town, when the name is composed. It belongs together or something. (I’ve never been good at grammar, in any languages, because nothing ever made sense to me…)

  • anne

    So romantic..beautiful cards!!

  • anne

    So romantic..beautiful cards!!

  • Pat Kilgore

    I am doing an estate sale and found two books of French post cards potraying the damage done in France by the bombing..One book is of Reims 20 postcards all with tissue in between each card. On the next one it says Verdun l’ Heroique. It has about 20 cards as well. They were in a trunk, and are in excellent condition. Can you tell me the worth.

  • Pat Kilgore

    I am doing an estate sale and found two books of French post cards potraying the damage done in France by the bombing..One book is of Reims 20 postcards all with tissue in between each card. On the next one it says Verdun l’ Heroique. It has about 20 cards as well. They were in a trunk, and are in excellent condition. Can you tell me the worth.

  • http://www.printinghq.com/brochure-printing full color postcard printing

    French Postcards from the Early 20th Century all are look great . the man seating on the chair and showing the different types of the postcard . The collection of that time post card are to costly in the market now a day .

  • Mazarc

     “Je viens de recevoir ta lettre à l’instant et je te fais réponse de suite pour te tranquilliser au sujet de ta lettre du 1er août. Je ne t’en parles pas sur ta dernière lettre car ce n’est qu’à la derniere que je te fais réponse…”

    Translation:  I just now received your letter and I am answering you right away so that you can be comforted about the subject of your letter of August 1. I will not talk about your last letter because it was just lately that I answered you…

    or words to that effect.

  • Carol

    I have about 30 unused postcards from WW1. Most of them are black & white etchings from France. Are there collectors for these?

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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