Then & Now: Paris, France.
Recently Flea Market Love Letters went on the road for the first time since 2020! You may recall our visit to Switzerland in February 2020? On that trip we visited several spots around Lucerne which had been mentioned in a letter from the archive dated 1923. In the summer of 2020 we took a handful of Dublin Postcards around the City to see how much had changed, and in October 2021 we did the same with two treasures in the City of Lights: Paris!
Read along for our visits to two famous Parisian landmarks and the Postcards we brought along -- or really, brought back!
Notre-Dame de Paris:
Notre-Dame de Paris, for "Our Lady of Paris" itself is the must-see Medieval cathedral in Paris. A tourist destination for literal centuries it's wonderful to see crowds gathering on the grounds. In 2020 the interior of the Cathedral suffered millions of euros of damage when a fire destroyed centuries of architectural features indoors, however, signage around the facade promises the restoration teams are hard at work.
We've covered this Postcard previously on the blog in our "The History & Future of the Postcard" but that was of course before we knew we'd be seeing Paris so soon, so you'll have to forgive us!
From the fashion to the cars, this card is a perfectly captured moment. It's certainly one of our favorites and it was only delightful to be able to return to Notre Dame with this gem from 1971 -- that's 50 years later!
Now to the best part -- the reverse! Let's see what this card tells us:
"We have been driving all over Europe for 3 weeks ending in Paris. We have visited so many Cathedrals of rare beauty and grandeur but felt that the Notre Dame here in Paris surpasses them all for its serene and majestic atmosphere of peace.
We have had wonderful weather except for those cold days in Vienna. Several places we visited before and enjoyed them more the second time. We'll see you soon. Love, Lucile & Gwynne"
I know a handful of readers have been in touch lately for more about handwriting so if you'd like to test your transcription skills, here's a close-up of the original! That stamp is just divine as well. The postmark tells us this went through the Palais de Calais. So many fantastic parts to appreciate!
Arc de Triomphe:
It took 30 years to build the iconic Arc de Triomphe. Commissioned by Napoleon in the 1800s this monument stands near enough to the Champs-Elysees -- the most expensive shopping street in the world!
I adore the sepia quality of this card -- dated 1948. France was just a few years shy of the horrors of World War II -- including the German occupation of the Capital City when this was posted to Ohio. Famously, the Germans marches at the Arc de Triomphe during their occupation of France in 1940.
It makes one wonder: Could this card pre-date the end of the War? Was an identical card like this sent to a sweetheart in Berlin, just three or four years prior? We'll never know but it begs the question.
But back to what we do know: The writer of this card certainly has character! He sounds like he's living up life in Paris, writing to Elizabeth in Dayton, Ohio of his time:
(Just returned from London etc.,etc.)
"Dear E -- You can't say I haven't written, but then I haven't received a card from you. As I said Paris would be the base to which I would return and consequently I am now here at 7 Re d'Lechelle -- just like being home again. Went to a glittering birthday party last night in Bois de Bologne, later to Monmarte. Have seen everything and know many people. Had a guide in the Louvre -- Venus de Milo, original, Mona Lisa, etc. DaVinici, remember? Thomas de Paris."
For our handwriting fans we have a closer look here -- can we talk about the colors on this card? From the teal pen -- from 1948?! -- to the magenta stamp this is a beautiful addition to the archive. There's a Postmark and a Killer, telling us that the letter at some stage went through the Grand Palais-Paris just like our card above would 23 years later!
Get in Touch.
Thanks for reading! Do you enjoy this series? If so, let us know! We have a number of Postcards from the archive and love to visit the famous sites they depict. Do you have a vintage letter or Postcard you love? We'd love to hear from you. Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.