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.

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.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.