Vintage Signs

P1070809Like ghostly apparitions, advertisements from an earlier age whisper hints about the past lives of buildings and places.

There was a bakery here before?

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Rue Trivalle, Carcassonne

A cured-meat shop down the street? I love the specificity. Not just a butcher, but charcuterie–sausage, ham, cold cuts and such.

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Béziers

This one was near the charcutier. A rival? Salaisons are salted foods, mostly ham and such. Wholesale and retail, it says. Felix B. was called the nice (gentil) something. I wonder what!

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Béziers

This little place was an auto garage? It’s true that cars were smaller back then. The buildings on these streets are very old–13th century mostly–very narrow, with low ceilings. But if you’re a mechanic, you find a way to make your business.

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Rue Trivalle, Carcassonne

Again, the specificity: wines for Catholic Mass. The second line most likely read vins de dessert–dessert wines–because Banyuls wines are very sweet.

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Banyuls on the coast

This one is no advertisement, but a warning: With the Legion or against France. From World War II. Reminders of war are never far away in Europe.

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Azille

Hints that life was different then.

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Peyriac-Minervois. A ruche is a beehive. Midi means noon but it also means the region of the south–where it’s always noon. It was a small grocery store.

No online shopping. If you wanted something, you went to the specialist.

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Limoux. Fabric and clothes.
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Also in Limoux, Marius Long made casquettes, sold retail at the price of wholesale. Thanks to Midi Hideaways for the casquette (cap) tip.
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Another clothing shop, which still exists, in the center of Carcassonne.

When we were hunting for an investment property, among the eight-dozen-plus places I saw was a magnificent ruin (at a modest price, but requiring a large fortune to restore to habitability) that included an atelier. The seller’s father had been a sign painter around the era of many of these signs. The workshop was a hoarder’s bazaar, but there were so many interesting remnants of signs. Sign painting was a real profession then.

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A Swiss apèritif. In Carcassonne.

Occasionally there also are hints of the boom times, from the Belle Epoque or during the 1920s, when advertisements and store signs were more elaborate. This gorgeous mosaic, which glimmers gold in the sun, is signed by the ceramists Gentil and Bourdet (who also did quite a few Paris Métro stations) and adorns what originally was a butcher shop–hence the cow’s head. The surrounding arch is marble from the nearby village of Caunes-Minervois. Today, the address, on the main street in the center of Carcassonne, houses a real estate office, still in the same family.

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Rue du Verdun, Carcassonne

The top photo is outside the halles (indoor market) in the center of Carcassonne, on rue Chartran. A droguerie is like a pharmacy for your home. Gazaniol was the family name of the owner.

Are you also a sucker for anything old?

Tractorama

The other day we decided to play tourist and went to a village fête in Belpech. As we wandered through the festivities, we picked up a dish for lasagne. By Revol, made in France.

The baskets also were made in France, by the father of the guy selling the dishes. I love that people know how to make such beautiful things.

basketsThere was music.

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Sorry, his wooden sabots aren’t shown

And plenty to eat, of course.

And there was a défilé of old tractors. In our village, one vigneron drives a very, very, very old Lambourghini …. tractor. Who knew?

Well, here, we saw a Porsche.

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And lots of other wonders.

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For a schedule of local festivities, check out flanerbouger.fr …. flâner means stroll about for the pleasure of it, not so much to walk as to look; bouger means to move.