“Visitez la France.” With this title the SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français - national french railway company) started in 1946 an advertising poster campaign to revive tourism after the Second World War. The most beautiful landscapes of France thus came to life under the brushes of famous artists.
Visitez la France
Visit france, french touristic posters
Visitez la France, Alpes, prenez la SNCF
1952 – SAINDRE
A few years later, the Ministry of Transport and Tourism began its own campaign entitled simply “France”, made of photographic posters.
France, Paris, Place Vendôme
1947 circa – RENÉ-JACQUES
Tourism didn't wait the after war to develop. It was born in the 19th century thanks to the development of transportation. From the 1890s, in order to attract travellers, French railway companies wanted to make the beauties of France known. Thousands of so-called "travel" posters ("affiches de voyage") were then put up in stations, travel agencies and even on Transatlantic liners. For 130 years, the art of travel poster has never ceased to evolve, to make people dream and to invite them to travel.
the belle epoque
During the second half of the 19th century, the development of transportation enabled a strong increase in tourism in Europe. Timetables decorated with small black and white engravings were displayed in railway stations.
Chemin de fer du Nord, Saison d'été.
1890 circa – JAPHETSold
As early as 1890, the railway companies put up the first real travel posters. Printed in lithography, they invited travellers to visit a historical site or a bucolic landscape, in a naturalistic and poetic style.
Le Tréport, Casino Municipal
1895 circa – Henri GRAY
Station thermale Lamalou-les-Bains. Chemin de fer PLM d'Orléans et du Midi
1895 circa – M. PALLANDRE
These posters were harmonious compositions of several views of a region, folklorique characters, a timetable or a map, often decorated with gold frames and floral motives typical of the Belle Epoque style.
Allevard les Bains, P.L.M. , Isère
1900 circa – Frédéric HUGO D'ALESI
Le Lac d'Annecy, PLM
1900 circa – Frédéric HUGO D'ALESI
Frédéric Alexianu, known as F. Hugo d'Alési, was the most prolific creator of travel posters during the Belle Epoque. His harmonious compositions, superbly printed in lithography, depicted picturesque scenes in enchanting landscapes.
Brides-les-Bains et Salins-Moutiers, billets à prix réduits
1900 circa – Henri TANCONVILLE
In the same style, Henri Garnier, known as Henri Tanconville, designed a series of very fine posters.
Littoral de la Méditterranée, PLM
1905 circa – Henri TANCONVILLESold
Chemins de Fer de Paris Lyon Méditerranée, Grottes et Cascades de Baume
1900 circa – Henri TANCONVILLE
P.L.M. Sail Les Bains par St. Martin d'Estréaux
1910 circa – Henri TANCONVILLE
At the turn of the century, a different approach to the travel poster emerged, as graphic designers gained a better understanding of advertising mechanisms.From then on, a single image with a shorter text became the norm, such as in the works of Géo Dorival and Constant Duval, giving a better clarity to the posters.
1913 – Geo DORIVAL
Luchon, Chemin de Fer d'Oléans et du Midi
1910 circa – Constant DUVAL
1911 – Geo DORIVAL
Vichy, Chemins de fer PLM, Billets à prix réduits
1900 circa – PLOZ
Founded in 1857, the PLM - the Paris to Lyon and Méditerranée Railway Company - was the largest of the private French railway companies. It served Lyon, the French Riviera, Switzerland, Venice… and even offered trips from Paris to Constantinople or London to Baghdad. Until 1937, the PLM printed hundreds of magnificent posters, which are now highly collectible.
Route des Alpes Massif de l'Oisans
1912 – René PÉAN
PLM, Mont Blanc, Chamonix
1905 circa – H.J.
Chemin de fer d'Orléans et du midi, Carcassonne
1930 circa – E.Paul CHAMPSEIX
Chemin de fer d' Orléans, la Creuse
1907 – Coulange LAUTRECSold
Five private railway companies shared the French market: the PLM, Chemins de fer d’Orléans et du Midi, Chemins de fer du Nord, Chemin de fer de l’Est and Chemin de fer de l’Ouest. These companies merged in 1937 to create the SNCF.
Chemins de fer de l'Ouest, voyages à prix réduits, Normandie Bretagne et Ile de Jersey.
1895 circa – Gustave FRAIPONT
Sens, chemin de fer PLM
1905 – Henri POLARTSold
Laon, L'une des plus ancienne ville de France
1910 circa – CAROT
Chemins de Fer de l'Etat, La Bretagne Pittoresque, Lannion
1929 – Maurice TOUSSAINT
In June 1936, the members of the French Popular Front voted a law imposing two weeks of paid holidays. It was a revolution for the working class. Before this law, holidays were the prerogative of the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy.
5 billets, 10 voyageurs, formez un groupe!
1936 – Roland HUGON
From the end of July 36, all French employees were entitled to paid holidays. They were more than 600,000 to go on holiday that year, and three times as many the following year.
SNCF, Joyeux week-end, Billets de week-end avec 40% de réduction
1938 – Jean JACQUELIN
Lys-Chantilly, Plage Boran sur Oise
1935 circa – Robert FALLOTSold
The swimming pools and beaches around Paris enjoyed a tremendous success. The “tout-Paris" rushed to Lys-Chantilly, on the edge of the Chantilly forest, or took special trains named "La Plage” to L'Isle-Adam, the largest river beach in France.
1930 circa – Léon BLOT
Divonne les Bains
1934 – Jean JANIN
In the summer of 1936, the French visited their family in the countryside. The main type of transport was still the bicycle! The introduction of reduced train tickets for paid holidays made it easier to go on vacation.
1929 – André GALLAND
In 1937, employees from the Paris region flocked to the beaches of Normandy, while the rest of France visited the Paris World’s Fair.
Plages du débarquement en Normandie, SNCF
1947 – Albert BRENET
art deco posters
From the 1920s, poster artists abandoned the romanticism and the arabesques of the Art Nouveau period in favour of straight lines, geometric and monumental forms borrowed from Cubism and Futurism. Extreme stylisation, dynamic compositions and perspectives, and a reduced palette of bright colours characterised this new graphic language. The posters were embracing the Art Deco.
Côte d'Azur, partez PLM, le pays de votre rêve est au bout de votre nuit
1937 – Roland HUGON
Paris, Edité par les Grands Réseaux de Chemins de Fer Français
1935 circa – Robert FALCUCCI
Boulogne sur Mer, Phare de la digue Carnot
1930 circa – Gustave UMBDENSTOCKSold
Chemin de fer à crémaillère de Chamonix au Montenvers
1954 – Roger SOUBIESold
Les Gorges du Tarn, Chemins de fer du Midi
1930 circa – E.Paul CHAMPSEIX
1936 – A. MOLUGGON
In 1937, at the instigation of the French government, the five private railway companies merged and founded the SNCF.The old PLM format, 78 x 108 cm, was abandoned in favour of the international tourist format, 64 x 102 cm.
The Master of the Art Deco travel poster. With his brightly coloured landscapes, bold compositions and slender female silhouettes wearing bell hats, Roger Broders brings the viewer through the frame of a window into the poster itself.
1925 – Roger BRODERSSold
1922 circa – Roger BRODERS
Exposition internationale, Houille Blanche & tourime, Grenoble 1925
1925 – Roger BRODERS
Le Mont Revard
1930 circa – Roger BRODERSSold
Tunis, Golf de La Soukra
1932 – Roger BRODERS
SNCF, SOCIETE NATIONALE DES CHEMINS DE FER FRANCAIS
In 1946, the SNCF began a major poster campaign to boost tourism. The most beautiful landscapes in France came to life under the brushes of famous artists.
1951 – ACYAME
1947 – Léon DEVOSSold
1945 – JAL
Frankreich, Korsika, Französische Eisenbahnen
1955 – Arthur PAGES
Val de Loire, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français
1957 – Jacques DESPIERRE
1950 – Albert MARQUET (after)
Bretagne, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français
1957 – René GENIS (after)
Savoie, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français.
1948 – FONTANAROSA
Gorges du Tarn, SNCF
1955 – Georges ROHNER
1947 – ABEL
Tourist offices also promoted their region and asked famous graphic designers to carry out their poster campaigns.
1950 circa – Jean-Gabriel DOMERGUESold
1958 circa – Jacques AURIACSold
Visitez l'Alsace avec les trains et les autocars de la Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français
1956 – ABEL
"I may have been the first to treat images in large areas of colour, a bit like Matisse did in painting.”
Eugénie les Bains, la cure impériale
1988 – Bernard VILLEMOT
1953 – Bernard VILLEMOT
SNCF, une nuit en voiture-lit
1973 – Bernard VILLEMOTSold
Air France, France
1952 – Bernard VILLEMOTSold
Lisieux, centre mondial de pèlerinages
1954 – Bernard VILLEMOT
Sports d'hiver, France
1954 – Bernard VILLEMOTSold
Visitez le Val de Loire
1967 – Bernard VILLEMOT
1960 – Bernard VILLEMOT
Samivel, who's real name was Paul Gayet-Tancrède was a watercolorist, graphic designer and illustrator who specialised in mountain scenes. He wrote several novels and illustrated numerous literary editions by François Villon, Rabelais, De la Fontaine, Swift ou Ramuz...
He often drew tiny alpenists who seemed "lost" in the vastness of the mountains. His watercolors and posters were impregnated with the silence and poetry of Alpen landscapes.
Chamonix, Réserve naturelle des Contamines, Montjoie, Massif du Mont-Blanc
1985 circa – SAMIVEL
Du Léman à la Méditerranée, La grande traversée des Alpes françaises
1980 circa – SAMIVELSold
Savoie, Le Mont-Blanc des Hauts de Megève
1985 circa – SAMIVELSold
At the beginning of the 1950s, the Ministry of Transport and Tourism used the talents of great photographers such as Karl Machatschek, Jacques Dubois and Philippe Fronval. First in black and white, then in colour, the most beautiful landscapes and greatest historical monuments are reproduced in this series of posters simply entitled "France”.
France, Le théâtre antique d'Orange
1950 circa – BOUDOT-LAMOTTE
France, Grotte de Lascaux
1950 circa – WINDELS
Photography increasingly replaced drawing in the creation of travel posters. As printing in lithography required several weeks of work, a much more economical process, the offset printing, soon replaced it.
Paris, Du haut de Notre-Dame
1955 circa – NIEPCE
Vacances en Europe par Air France
1963 – J. BULTE
1960 – Karl MACHATSCHEK
These series of photographic posters depict Provence, the French Riviera, Brittany, Chamonix and Mont-Blanc, and of course Paris!
France, Côte d'Azur, Nice
1958 circa – TRUBERT
France, Royan, Charente maritime
1955 – Karl MACHATSCHEK
Paris, Ville-lumière, La place de la Concorde
1960 – Ervin MARTON
France, Chamonix Mont-Blanc
1960 – G. TAIRRAZSold
1960 – MOLINA
Riviera Côte d'Azur
1955 circa – WILLY RONIS
France, Notre-Dame de Paris
1956 – Jacques DUBOIS
Pays Nantais, Danses Folkloriques
1958 circa – KARQUEL