The Belle Époque of Tourism in Brittany

By Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

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.

EXCURSIONS EN BRETAGNE EXCURSIONS EN BRETAGNE by RENONCOURT Henry (DE)Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Train Journeys

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.

La Gare La Gare (1919-07-01)Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Small Postcard

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."

Printania' Pension de Famille-Restaurant vu de la plage Printania' Pension de Famille-Restaurant vu de la plageLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

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.

Untitled UntitledLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Advertising Card

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.

La Chaise du Curé La Chaise du CuréLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

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.

La jolie baigneuse apparaît comme dans un rêve : Mais pourquoi n'est-elle pas dans le costume d'Eve ! La jolie baigneuse apparaît comme dans un rêve : Mais pourquoi n'est-elle pas dans le costume d'Eve !Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Swimsuits and Female Bathers

Cabins made from canvas or wood were perfect for changing and protecting blushing female bathers from onlookers.

Baigneuses Bretonnes Baigneuses BretonnesLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

In Accordance with Propriety

When no cabin was available, a discreet corner was just as effective…well, almost!

Berck-Plage - Travaux de sable - Château-fort Berck-Plage - Travaux de sable - Château-fortLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Beach Games

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!

Villa Notre-Dame-du-Port Villa Notre-Dame-du-PortLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Summer Camps

In order to prevent schoolchildren from becoming idle during long summer vacations, summer camps developed in the countryside and at the seaside.

A bord d'une vedette A bord d'une vedetteLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

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.

Rothéneuf - Vue générale des Rochers sculptés Rothéneuf - Vue générale des Rochers sculptés by G.FLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Tourist Attractions

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.

Credits: Story

Thanks to:
The town of Baud
Le Carton Voyageur - Postcard Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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