Sunday, 4 October 2009

French Railway Posters and 100th post giveaway.

Very, very soon we will reach our 100th post milestone and just as we did with the 50th, we have goodies to giveaway.
Just leave a comment on the 100th post to be eligible, the name of the lucky winner will be drawn by me (blogmistress Maggie) at the end of the month.

Today is 3 or More Tuesday at Tam's The Gypsys Corner so please stop by and link up with all the other blogs participating there.

I'd like to share a collection of posters that were used as advertising for various regions of France for tourism by the railway companies called Chemin de Fer.

I was initially drawn to the ones for tourism to Brittany and the towns around Quimper. Upon doing further research I found there were many lines traveling to the Loire, from Paris to the East Coast, to the Pyrenees and the Midi.

The Chemin de Fer (railroads) were initially started to haul minerals and the building of the main French railway system did not begin until after 1842, when a law legalized railways.

Some of the lines started between 1842 and 1862 include the Chemin de Fer de Paris a Orleans, Chemin de Fer Paris - Orleans - Midi, Chemin de Fer L'Est, and the Chemin de Fer de l'Etat.

For example, the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée (usually known more simply as the PLM) was created between 1858 and 1862 from the amalgamation of the earlier Paris-Lyon and Lyon-Méditerranée companies, and subsequently incorporating a number of smaller railways. The PLM operated chiefly in the south-east of France, with a main line which connected Paris to the Côte d'Azur by way of Dijon, Lyon, and Marseille.

As for other tourist routes, the PLM commissioned poster artist Roger Broders to advertise, the Côte d'Azur and the French Alps. Lithographs of travel posters Broders rendered for PLM are still available commercially.

All the separate Chemin de Fer were absorbed in 1938 into the majority state-owned Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, or SNCF.

The chateaux and cathedrals were well represented in posters to draw visitors. The styles were highly rendered and beautiful.

Brittany was also a draw, advertising the beautiful fishing villages along it's coast, as well as the tourist spots.

Over time the posters reflected the different artistic styles from Art Nouveau:

To the industrial style Art Deco:

And finally in a very modern graphic style:

Do these posters inspire you to travel as much as they do me??

Melissa B

PS I would like to credit the site for all of the images except for the Brittany posters (they allow downloads of 72dpi).


  1. Melissa, this is another wonderful post. Yes, these make me want to pack my bags and head for France. This is an extensive collection. Did you pick these up on your travels in France. Do you have these hanging in your home. Thanks for sharing this interesting art form. ~ Sarah

  2. These make me think of my ancestors. Where and when they lived there. Did they travel on those vessels. Very interesting.

  3. Yes indeed, a very wonderful post! I love this old Art Deco posters. They are so colorful and so wonderfully designed.I is a large collection and I am sure some of them are on your wall,I would have them on my wall if they where mine! They are just wonderful.Thanks for sharing.

  4. These are lovely--all different styles! They do make me want to call for reservations and frame some also :) Thanks for a really informative and beautiful post!

  5. Hi Melissa,

    Another delightful post. I like the poster art very much. And though I love Brittany, many places call to me in France, so it's nice to see.
    Let us know how you began your collection. I'd love to be there right now! Great job!

    All best,

  6. The answer to the question is Yes! It also brings to mind a young woman without a seat curled up for warmth on the floor of the train traveling all night to Germany from France. Hey, I said I was young! :-) Sounds pretty yucky now. Posters, especially deco style travel posters, are among my favorite "art"!