At the end of the 19th century, the remote and picturesque region of Brittany attracted many tourists from well-to-do families tracing the paths of the painters and writers who went there for inspiration.
Railway development and numerous enticing posters plastered on the walls of towns and cities played a part in the expansion of tourism during the period known as the Belle Époque.
Tourists sent postcards from the places that they visited. Postcards were souvenirs, as well as a sort of advertisement that enticed the recipient to visit, too. According to writer and academic Georges Duhamel, "The invention of the postcard has done more for tourism than railways have."
Arrivée du 'Rapide' à l'arrêt de Port en Dro transportant les premiers baigneurs au mois d'Avril 1911 : au fond les Villas Chimère et Carmen Arrivée du 'Rapide' à l'arrêt de Port en Dro transportant les premiers baigneurs au mois d'Avril 1911 : au fond les Villas Chimère et CarmenLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale
Change of Scene or Return to Brittany from Paris
Tourists or Bretons returning to the region in the summer travelled mostly by train. Fashionable seaside resorts, towns, and small villages were accessible thanks to the "tourist train."
Grand Hotel or Guesthouse
There were plenty of "travelers' hotels" inland or on the coast, and it was not uncommon for families to return to the same establishment each year for a long vacation.
Postcards were used to advertise. They boasted the amenities of an establishment and the flattering recommendations of the Touring Club de France and the Vélocipédique Union cycling association.
Un coin du vivier, achat d'une langouste Un coin du vivier, achat d'une langousteLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale
Before the advent of paid vacations in 1936, the clientele who frequented grand hotels and beautiful villas were privileged.
Elegance by the Seaside
This was the era of "elegant people" who could be seen strolling along the coast.
La Plage à marée haute La Plage à marée hauteLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale
Back then, beachgoers tended to cover up, using parasols and large hats as protection from the sun.
Swimsuits and Female Bathers
Cabins made from canvas or wood were perfect for changing and protecting blushing female bathers from onlookers.
In Accordance with Propriety
When no cabin was available, a discreet corner was just as effective…well, almost!
There were numerous activities on the beach, including games and sandcastle competitions.
Pêche aux lançons Pêche aux lançonsLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale
People also went shore fishing or collected shells with the family.
La Baignade du père Canard et de ses canetons La Baignade du père Canard et de ses canetonsLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale
Naturally, everybody knew about the healthy effects of swimming. However, there were few bathing enthusiasts. Thankfully, the tides were ready!
In order to prevent schoolchildren from becoming idle during long summer vacations, summer camps developed in the countryside and at the seaside.
Easy to Reach Islands
Passenger boats, ferries, ferrymen, and speedboats provided connections and maritime excursions.
Environs de Nantes - Les bords de l'Erdre à Gaché Environs de Nantes - Les bords de l'Erdre à GachéLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale
The pleasure boats and sea regattas attracted crowds, as did the unforgettable canals and ponds, suitable for boat, canoe, and barge rides.
The tourist activities offered at the seaside resorts included coach trips to discover the inland areas and relatively new local attractions…
FEUX DE LA SAINT-JEAN AUX MENHIRS DU MOULIN. ST PIERRE DE QUIBERON. BRETAGNE FEUX DE LA SAINT-JEAN AUX MENHIRS DU MOULIN. ST PIERRE DE QUIBERON. BRETAGNE by MORENOLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale
or even much older ones, such as the menhirs (large man-made standing stones).
Forming one's own opinion was crucial after Gustave Flaubert's terse description that "the Carnac stones are just large stones."
L'essayage des sabots pour la visite des parcs à huîtres L'essayage des sabots pour la visite des parcs à huîtresLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale
And who could forget the guided, oyster-farm tours that included Breton clogs (known as sabots)? This was a difficult task, carried out by elegant ladies who never lost an ounce of sophistication.
The town of Baud
Le Carton Voyageur - Postcard Museum