Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cheap Thrill: Postcard Hunt

Pont Arcole

If there are two things in this world I love, they are postcards and wandering. There's nothing more wonderful than getting lost, then finally realizing you know exactly where you are. So in dreaming up some cheap activities for a tourist or expat to Paris (or to anywhere!), I gathered inspiration from the fantastic site Dear Photograph and decided to go on a Postcard Hunt.

rue Chappe

Here's what you do: browse any postcard stand and pick up a handful of postcards that speak to you, places that seem interesting and beautiful. (This will not be a challenge in Paris.) Usually on the back, along with the photographer's name, you'll find the location of the photograph.

Sacre Coeur, Montmartre

Pull out your handy Plan de Paris and look up the site. Then go there! 
Notre Dame via the Seine between Pont Au Double & Petit Pont 

This is a wonderful way to connect with the city you're visiting, to make yourself explore and get a little bit lost, to open your eyes and see the city through the eyes of the past. You can see what's changed and what is still exactly the same after all these years. You can wonder about the people in the photos (so prevalent in Paris postcards), what they were up to, what happened to them, and about all the other people who have walked along that very spot between the moment the photo was taken and the moment you came to be standing in the very same spot.

Pont Royal

As you can see, I'm a little obsessed with bridges. And now I'm obsessed with Postcard Hunting! There's a certain feeling of recognition, of being placed and grounded in the world when you find the goal of your wandering. Afterward, go find a little café, have a coffee in the sunshine and write on the postcards to your most-loved people back home about your little adventure.

Have you ever done something like this before? I'd love to see the results! 

Happy wandering.


  1. Love this idea! It's true that there are a limitless number of magical spots to discover, or re-discover, especially in Paris.

    Whenever I arrive to a new city or village I take a peek at the postcards to find out what I want to explore. Often better even than a guide book!

  2. Ah, you should try doing this with vintage postcards featuring statues that were removed years ago - I did! http://parisisinvisible.blogspot.fr/2012/01/le-declin-and-fall-from-grace.html

    I've got a few more of these that I'm working on at the moment, and you're right, it does get quite addictive.

  3. Oh, I may try this one day if I ever get to Paris and if any of the postcards you send me next month will work for this. Great idea!

  4. Your photographs are great. I once spent a day tracking down the subject of a vintage postcard. It led to a whole voyage of discovery -- I wrote a Wikipedia article about the building's owner and architect and met the great-granddaughter of the architect in France as a result. What an adventure. Here is where it all began: http://parisianfields.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/a-palace-of-commerce/

  5. Your photographs are great. I once did this with a vintage postcard, tracking down a building in Montmartre. I got so interested that I wrote Wikipedia articles about the owner and architect of the building and ended up meeting the great-granddaughter of the architect on a subsequent visit to France. Quite an adventure. Here is where it all began:



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