French Friday: Postcard Privacy!

Summertime, vacation time. The time of the year to send out postcards to family and friends who are in different parts of the country or the world. Did you realize that there are different styles of how you send your postcard based on culture? I sure didn’t!

If you know anything about French people you will know that they are fiercely protective of their privacy. And apparently, that extends to postcards as well.  A lesson I very quickly learned on a vacation with my mother-in-law.

One December while living in France my husband and I decided to take my mother-in-law to Rome the day after Christmas.  We planned to do a quick trip to enjoy this festive city around the holiday.

We had a great time touring various locations including the Vatican. The day after Christmas is St. Silvester and the Pope actually came out and addressed the crowd with a speech.  He opened with a greeting in about a dozen languages, I was impressed.  I also felt like I was seeing a celebrity, decided I was a poser as I am not a huge fan of the Catholic church, and concentrated on keeping warm!

We, of course, visited several other of the sites as we completed our 3 days.  My mother-in-law picked up a few souvenirs and postcards along the way and on the last day when we arrived at the airport she began a search for envelopes and stamps.

I thought she had completely lost it..I mean who buys an envelope for a POSTCARD?  She was very upset because she couldn’t find any and that she was unable to send them to out.  I was flabbergasted that she would not even consider sending them without an envelope.  It was “no one’s business what she had to write”…while I was thinking.. “then why buy postcards?”

Turns out she wasn’t crazy.  A few days later we went to visit Chamonix, a ski town in France where Mont.Blanc is.  We went into a souvenir shop to buy postcards and lo and behold if they didn’t come with envelopes!  Throughout the next years that we were in France I saw envelopes all the time!

And here is a postcard that we received this summer from my mother-in-law….in it’s proper envelope so that the nosy postman cannot read it!


How about you?  Have you run across the same situation in France or other countries or with other cultures?

About Andi Fisher

I'm a lifestyle blogger focused on travel and food. I love to travel via my stomach eating and seeking out local artisans to feature here. I'm a big supporter of the blogging community and love highlighting travel and food bloggers for you to meet.


  1. Nathalie Hamidi says:

    I use enveloppes mostly if I have too many thing to write for a postcard, so that I can use both sides, and don’t want to bother with a letter. Or if I have secrets! 😉

  2. I don’t mind if the mailman can read my postcards… 😉 I only use envelopes like Nathalie – when I have too much to say or when I have secrets 😉

  3. Pia Desselle says:

    Well, I just bought some postcards in Hamburg, Germany this afternoon and I didn’t see any envelopes with them. Must be a French thing.

  4. Very interesting! I had never heard of that before…

  5. Andi,

    This reminds me of the time my boyfriend’s grandparents, parents, and brother all sent me postcards from various locations in France. It’s very interesting that the French do this. I still find it a bit bizarre, but I tend to giggle every time I receive a postcard w/ an envelope every now and then from them!

    • @Frances, so they always send with envelopes? I am trying to figure out if it is a regional thing or a generational thing.

  6. My French in-laws don’t use envelopes when they send us postcards. I actually noticed yesterday while looking at postcards in Paris, one stand said “envelopes inside” – but I figured it was because of the long shape (it was like the one in your photo) or that it was better quality – a cross between a postcard and a card. None of the others had envelopes. Now that I know, I’m going to pay attention.

  7. I love my postcards to come and go in envelopes. It makes them more of a personal little note waiting to be opened, revealing a written treat inside.

    A postcard by itself is just a flip from back to front. It just doesn’t have the same feel.

  8. From what I have received, all postcards have been in envelopes. My boyfriend’s grandma (mom’s side) is from Bretagne while his other grandparents are from the region pays de la Loire. It’s interesting, I’m wondering too if it’s regional thing.

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