Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weekend postcards: French sheep, old structures and people-watching

Here are a trio of vintage postcards from France, home of the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave.

First up is this color postcard of sheep grazing across from Mont Saint-Michel, the towering 8th century monastery and commune located on a tidal island in Normandy, France. (Thematically, it fits in nicely with this March 2011 post, which features cows grazing across the way from Scotland's Linlithgow Palace.)

Next up is this undated, unused postcard showing a street scene along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

One neat thing about this postcard, I think, is that the power of modern cropping and magnification allows us to enjoy some people-watching of a Parisian crowd from about a half-century ago.

The first guy we check out seems to be checking out someone else...

And this second guy is checking out someone — or something — else, too...

This guy is also scoping something out, but is trying to be subtle about it...

This guy is looking elsewhere but, more notably, is the most casually attired Frenchman of the bunch. Is that because he's a spy?

This lady is focused, perhaps stressed, and has no time for wandering eyes...

And this lovely lady is reading a book. Is she the one some of the French men are checking out?

This final postcard is the oldest and has the best story. It was mailed at Christmas 1935. It was written from Marie to Fanny, who was residing in Roger Ground, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Westmoreland, England. (And exhale.)

The building on the front of the postcard is the old Palais du Trocadéro, which was first constructed for the Exposition Universelle (World's Fair) of 1867 in Paris. It sat across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, which itself was constructed for the Exposition Universelle of 1889.

But before yet another exposition was held in Paris in 1937, the old Palais du Trocadéro was demolished and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot.

Marie, in part of her 1935 note to Fanny, laments the razing of the building in a note written around the edges of the postcard's front:
This lovely building is no more too old fashioned! they want something more modern for 1937. it was a perfect vandalism!!!

If you're interested, here's a link to an interesting blog post by John Coulthart with a bit more history of the old Palais du Trocadéro.


  1. I think casual guy is a tourist, not spy. Or, maybe a spy trying to look like a tourist, in which case, old guy clutching chest has seen through the disguise and is going to pull out a gun and arrest him.

  2. The second guy has a circle-slash just over his head in the original; almost looks like he is wearing a hat. Maybe casual guy was an American; even back then we didn't know how to dress appropriately when visiting other countries... The gentleman clutching his chest is trying to sell postcards to all who pass - "hey, wanna see what I've got here? Postcards, best prices on the avenue!"