Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "france"

Michele (aka mikebond) comes from Italy, but currently lives in France. He’s a big fan of languages and can speak lots of them, including Portuguese — not an easy feat! Michele is also a big enthusiast of Postcrossing meetups, which is how we’ve met him a few times already. :) Here he is:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I have always loved sending and receiving postcards to friends and family members. At high school I started penpalling with people from several countries, but sadly I lost contact with them when I started university and had no time left to write meaningful letters.

So, imagine my excitement when, in 2008, Pinar, a fellow Turkish member of VirtualTourist.com, told me about a website where you could send and receive postcards to and from all over the world. I immediately loved the idea of having my mailbox full of beautiful postcards and messages from strangers. Back in 2008, Finland was the most represented country on Postcrossing, and some people moaned about getting “always Finland!” (later, the recurring moan turned into “always Russia!”), but postal fares were cheaper, waiting times shorter, and it was easier to send to, or receive from rare countries. I received some of my rarest postcards in 2008 or 2009.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Definitely drawing addresses, with the hope of getting a rare country, or an inspiring profile! Then reading the profiles and finding the appropriate postcard for each recipient.

Of course, opening my mailbox and finding beautiful postcards in it is just as amazing! The first thing I do when I get one is to read the message and look at the decorations and stamps. To me, an outstanding back side makes the ugliest postcard pretty!

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

This is the mailbox where I post my postcards in my Breton village:

mikebondmailbox

We don’t have a real post office here, but only a “post relay”, i.e. a desk inside the mini-market, whose owner also provides postal services. The closest post office is in the nearby town, 5 kms far away, so I rarely go there. I always order my stamps online since La Poste’s online shop ships stamps orders within a couple of days and for free if you spend over 25 euros. Postmen here deliver the mail in yellow vans, between 10am and midday.

I keep most of my official Postcrossing cards in albums like this:

mikebondalbum

And since space is limited in my albums, I keep postcards from swaps, RAS, etc on piles like these:

mikebondpile
Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I was amazed when I received not one but two postcards from Mauritius in 2015, sent by Jordan and Tamera, two young siblings who had drawn my address simultaneously: MU-3168 and MU-3173!

More recently, I was extremely surprised when I drew an address on the Isle of Man. I was so happy to be able to send a postcard to this fellow Celtic land with only 25 postcrossers! And the recipient, Andrea, loved it, too!

Have you met any other members in real life?

I still cannot explain to myself how on Earth I could be a postcrosser for over 9 years without ever attending a Postcrossing meetup! Since I organised, and attended, my first two meetings in Italy in October and November 2017, traveling to such events has become an essential part of my Postcrossing experience. It is so much more fun to write postcards with old and new friends than at home alone!

So far, I have attended 15 meetings in seven different countries (Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria, Norway, Luxembourg and the latest in Belgium).

This photo was taken during my birthday dinner in Lisbon on 7 May 2018, two days after the awesome international meeting I attended there!

mikebondbday

I would have never imagined I could have such an international celebration with new friends from Portugal, Belgium and Norway, but Postcrossing made it possible! Since my very first meetup, I have become increasingly convinced that “Postcrossing is real only when shared”, just like happiness.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

It is almost impossible to pick ONE favorite postcard out of about 2700, but I will choose this one:

mikebondfav lFAHqrKo

(Back of postcard posted with permission)

I have chosen it because it is the most beautiful Christmas card I have received so far. Christmas time is often a sad time of the year for me, but postcards like this one, wisely chosen, brightly decorated, and with awesome Christmas stamps, made it lighter than usual.

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

Yes! After my first meetup in 2017, I was interviewed by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which prompted over 400 Italian readers to join Postcrossing.

Moreover, my stories about postcards and meetings inspired a few (virtual) friends to try Postcrossing, including my Catalan tutor Carol. We even organized a Postcrossing meeting in her Catalan village in October 2018.

Sadly, I have never been able to inspire my family members to join Postcrossing. After more than ten years since I joined it, they still think I am a bit crazy!

Do you have any other interesting hobbies, or things that you’re passionate about?

Unfortunately (?), I have always been too curious about everything, so I have always had such a variety of hobbies that I often lack the time to devote to each of them.

My main hobby has been learning languages since I started studying French and English at junior high school. At high school I picked up Latin and German, then added a language after the other. Today I know a dozen of languages and have some knowledge of twice as many.

My other vital hobby has always been travelling. Since I was 7 years old, my parents and I travelled to a different part of France every summer for several years. When I was 17, I started attending summer school abroad (in England, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, and Slovenia). After that, I started travelling on my own and never stopped. I have travelled to half of the European countries and I aim to visit all of them. My latest visited country was Norway in July.

Another hobby I have nurtured since I was a child is collecting stuff: mostly coins and stamps, but also museum or transport tickets. In spite of this, I have never seen “official” Postcrossing as a way of increasing a collection, as its social aspect has always been more important to me.

More hobbies include reading, taking photos… and I must be forgetting something!

Besides these, I have been interested in Europe’s culture, society, and politics since I was a teenager. I used to volunteer for an Italian political party when I was in my early twenties, but now I no longer belong to any because I find it increasingly difficult to identify with one.

Since I have been living in the Breton countryside without a driving license and with an e-bike as my only autonomous means of transport, I have become increasingly passionate about riding my e-bike (I hadn’t ridden a bike for at least 15 years before buying my first one here in Brittany!) and interested in topics like slow/green mobility and alternative travel styles. I look forward to going on my first bike journey across Europe, hopefully soon!

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Héléna (aka Helena2008) is a young postcrosser from the French region of Auvergne. Earlier this year, she gave an interview about her hobby to teen magazine “Trampoline”… and that’s how we knew we had a very enthusiastic postcrosser in the area! Turns out, she has a lot of stories to tell, so we invited her to the blog, with the help of her mom Marie (aka Marie007). Here they are:

Hi Héléna! How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

Two years ago, my mom saw an article about postcrossing on Facebook. It was the evening, and I was in my bed, almost sleeping. Mom was very excited by this project, and she thought I would be interested, too. So she came in my bedroom, turned on the light, woke me, and she asked me if I was interested in this project. Of course I said “yes”. I didn’t know it at this moment, but it was the beginning of a great adventure! :)

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I collect stamps with animals and flowers. Postcrossing is a wonderful way to discover very beautiful stamps! Sometimes postcrossers use an envelope and they add some stamps inside the envelope just for me. It’s very nice and I always thank them. I’m very interested about languages, especially English. I learn English at school, and also at home with a free internet website named Duolingo. When I’ll be older, I would like to own a “learning languages store”. I’d like to be an English teacher for adults.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

My mailman has a lot of work because of me! He is so used to deliver postcards to me, that sometimes he puts in my mailbox postcards which are not for me! When it happens, I take them and put them in the mailbox of my neighbors. At home, I have a wall where I put my postcards.

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

My favorite postcard was the one I have received from the city Helena, Montana, USA. It was so strange to see my name written on a postcard!! I also love to receive postcards of rabbits. I have a rabbit, so I’m crazy about these nice and soft animals.

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

My favorite part of postcrossing is to go to my mailbox and see if there is a postcard for me :) The more exciting is when I receive an envelope. It’s wonderful to open it and to discover what it is inside. Some postcrossers are very nice with me and they send to me some girly stickers, stamps, or coins from their country. It’s very kind and it makes me very happy.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

Yes, I have been surprised many times by the places that I have received postcards. With a swap, I have received a postcard from Syria. It was from a girl who is almost the same age as I am. It’s hard to think about her and about the war in her country. I often think about this little girl and I hope she is fine.

Have you met any other members in real life?

I also love to travel around the world with my mom. In August 2016, Jeremy, a very nice American postcrosser invited me and my mom to visit the city of Helena (capital of Montana, USA). It was absolutely wonderful!! I went in a plane for the first time of my life, I have discovered America, eaten real hamburgers, visited a ghost town, looked for gold nuggets, visited the city of Helena…

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!

This trip was the best moment of my life! After that, I have invited this postcrosser to France. He came in my house during summer 2017. It was great to show him my country and to see each other again. We are still in touch, and my mom and I are planning a trip next summer, to go back to Helena. I already know that it’s going to be awesome!

I have also met many french postcrossers, during Postcrossing meetings. I went with my mom to the meetings of Avignon, Lyon, Ternay, Valence… It’s really good to see postcrossers in real life. They are very nice and they have become my friends. My favorite meeting was last Autumn, when mom and I have organised a meeting in our own home. There were 20 persons and we have sent 435 postcards on this day!! I live in a small village with only 550 inhabitants. I can’t imagine the face of the postman the day after, when he has found the mailbox full of postcards to send!! :)

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I love to travel the world and discover different cultures. I hope to receive one postcard from each country in the world. I have a big map in my house, where I can color the countries once I have received a postcard. I have currently received postcards from 98 countries. My bigger dream is to receive a postcard from North Korea. Maybe one day it will happen…

Postcrossing Spotlight: Helena2008 from France!
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Oh là là! We couldn’t believe our eyes when we received the latest missive from the Little Mail Carriers… they were in Paris! :D Their host, PetitPilote did a fantastic job of showing them around the City of Light… read all about it below!

Bonjour Paris!

Summer is finally settled in Europe: temperatures are very pleasant and the sun shines every day! Many greetings from France!

We arrived at the beginning of July in Survilliers, a small village located 30 km north of Paris. We were really excited because it was our first trip to France! Our host didn’t waste time and organized a mini meeting with nearby French postcrossers.

Salut!

We all met at Montmartre on a lovely Monday morning and the visit started with some souvenirs shops. We couldn’t miss the local macaroon stand too! The sales lady was kind enough to let us pose into the display case. There were tons of aromas and the pink one raspberry flavored seemed to be really delicious!

So many macarons! :D

Then, following our touristic upward walk on Steinkerque Street, we saw the white dome of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, sitting at the highest point of the city. This is a beautiful Roman Church built between 1875 and 1914 and this is Montmartre’s most recognizable landmark.

What a pretty place!

And after the effort, relaxation! We found a table just in front of the Sacré-Cœur, perfect to enjoy the view and finally taste the colorful and yummy macaroons! We wrote a few meet-up cards and then made some pictures with Lauliz, Glumuke and her son Antoine by the monument.

Friends, macarons and postcards... perfect day!

We couldn’t leave the area without wandering the streets to discover the attractive village atmosphere of Montmartre. We took this opportunity to make a quick snapshot in front of Abbesses underground station and its old style entrance from 1900. Also along with the local yellow mailbox!

Abbesses underground station... didn't they film Amelie Poulain here?
Ah! A French postbox!

Our visit of Paris then led us to the Eiffel Tower! Located on the Champ de Mars, the tower was created by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition. 324 meters tall, the tower has three levels for visitors easy to reach by lift or stairs.

Salut la Tour Eiffel!

No tickets needed for us, we found an effortless way to climb up “the Iron Lady”! See for yourself!

Eheh... that was easy!

Not far from the tower, on the other side of the Seine River to the north, the Arc de Triomphe was waiting for us for a last souvenir picture. Standing in the center of the Place de l’Etoile, this majestic 50 meters tall monument was built between 1806 and 1836 under the authority of Napoleon. And it wasn’t the last time we would see the Arc…

C'est très jolie!

Let’s jump to July, 14th! This is Bastille Day in France, the national day! The day begins with the Military parade with French and invited troops as well as aircrafts flying above the Arc. Other celebrations are organized like popular balls, concerts and everywhere at night, impressive fireworks are displayed!

Bastille Day parade!
Pretty fireworks

Survilliers also had its own! We could attend the firework and celebrate, at the same time, Postcrossing 8th birthday!

Happy Birthday Postcrossing!

The following days were devoted to discover our host’s job. She is an air hostess on long haul flights and she decided to take us travelling with her… how exciting!! Want to find out where we’ve been? Check back in a couple of days for the rest of our travelling adventures! :)

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This week’s spotlight interviewee is lapoussine35, from France! Erin has 2 daughters, is a tea and chocolate addict, and loves to read in her bathtub on rainy days. :) Here is what she had to say:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

Like many other people here, I came to Postcrossing via penpalling. A friend mentioned Postcrossing to me in a letter and several weeks later, I decided to try it out myself. I love writing and receiving mail but, with two little girls, I find it hard to write long letters anymore. Postcrossing lets me reach out to the world and other people through a wonderful mix of words and pictures.

You could also look at it as armchair travel at its best!

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Traveling, science fiction and reading are definite stock answers and truths for me. In addition, I enjoying cross-stitching and making things with my hands. I recently cross-stitched an official card here to a postcrosser who mentioned liking handmade cards (/postcards/FR-144488). It’s my second one and I’m already working on another to send as a RAS.

I’ve also started running again and am dreaming of doing a half-marathon this fall. We’ll see…

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

This is our local post office, conveniently located next to the bakery! Since I started postcrossing, I go there regularly to mail my cards and buy stamps. I’m very lucky to have several great postal workers—they go out of their way to show me the latest stamps, always have a smile and even play with my girls sometimes.

post office and bakery
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I had the worst time trying to pick out only a couple of cards for this interview. Normally I store my cards in boxes and photo albums so that I can easily flip through them and enjoy looking at them. I decided to start pulling out potential cards to highlight here and gave up when my bed started to be completely covered (and my daughters showed up to look through too)!

mix of received cards

Not a postcard at all but one of the “unsung” heroes of Postcrossing—a stamp! I’m not a serious stamp collector but I do love neat stamps on my cards and this is one of my all-time favorites. I even received a 3D hologram stamp on an official card from Finland once on an official card!

cards 010

Postcrossing has brought smiles not only to me but to my entire family! Ticker from Australia sent this great RAS card to my daughter Laura. She wouldn’t put it down for days! (below on the left)

cards 011 cards 012

Another RAS but from my friend evitayueh this time. Evita knows about my fascination for Japan and sent me this great spring greeting to brighten my day; needless to say, she succeeded! (above on the right)

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I love the excitement of choosing the perfect card and stamp for people. Since I started postcrossing, I’ve gotten to know the local post office staff rather well and they are very good about showing me the neatest new stamps. I think I get as much, if not more pleasure, out of sending than receiving. I’ve gotten to know several great people here through both the Main Site and the Forum and sending RAS cards is a great way to turn a dreary day into a better one. (Receiving them is also a wonderful part of postcrossing and proof of the community we’re building here.)

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I’m passionate about languages and living abroad. I believe that everyone should take the chance to live abroad at least once in their life. The saying goes that “travel broadens the mind” but living in a different country does so even more by forcing you to reconsider all the little assumptions that you didn’t even know you had! I’m a strong advocate of programs like ERASMUS in the European Union or US-style Junior Year Abroad programs. I was lucky enough to study in Switzerland as part of my education and I treasure that time.

Language acquisition is also a bonus and I find it fascinating how it unlocks your brain from even the earliest of ages. It’s also interesting to look at how the connotations of different words change in different languages. I often ask postcrossers to write a few words or a favourite quote in their language on my cards. The combination of a foreign language, education and living abroad is a real gift!

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Maroussia, a French Postcrosser who lives in China and is collecting postcards since she was 12 years old.

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I have collected viewcards and had penfriends since age 12, the cards always made me day dream about places I might never see with my own eyes and a penfriend of mine from Sweden (but actually Finnish) thought I would be interested and introduced postcrossing to me. I loved the idea, the mystery of where the next card will come from, and the opportunity to make new friends, to “meet” interesting people. I must say I have NOT been disappointed and I love postcrossing! To my happy surprise, 99% of the cards I have so far received have been good and valuable for my collection, and many came with really great words written on the back!

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Yes, I am crazy about cooking and baking, and collecting cookbooks and cookery magazines, recipes. My favourite passtime is trying new recipes. My other “hobby” is history (which I teach along with geography), and reading history books and magazines, also archaeology, learning about people in other times and places, and postcards here come very handy and are a real help. Many cards I received are directly linked to historical events and it is very thrilling.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

I live in a village 30 km from the city and mail deliveries are not reliable where I live, to say the least. So I receive my letters and cards in that 1–2–12 box in the photo which actually is my husband’s office mail box in the city, where mail is delivered safely.

maroussia mailbox

This is the one I mostly patronize when I have to send things a bit out of the ordinary like packages or registered letters. Otherwise I mostly drop my cards in that post-box in San Li Tun street, but occasionally in other ones. I know the location of about ten convenient mail boxes.

maroussia postoffice

maroussia postbox

Well they are quite messy, but at least organized by countries. In boxes for the countries from where I have really many like Germany, France, the Czech Republic, the USA, Austria and such. The others are in two chests of drawers, also classified by country. My big hope (when I am retired, maybe) is to put them all in albums, with explanations about the place shown on the card!

keeping postcards
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

Hard to tell! There are so many I particularly love either because the picture is really fantastic, or because I love the place or it makes me day dream…

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