The first French mail service was set up to serve the King and the Royal Court on 19 June 1464.
In 1490 the Counts of Thurn and Taxis set up an international service. The mail service in France developed gradually and was eventually made available to everyone in 1603.
By a decree dated 19 July 1653, Renouard de Vélayer and Count Nogent were granted the right of collecting and delivering letters, notes and
document within the city of Paris. Boxes were placed in different parts of the city for the reception of the post. The mail had to have a strip of
paper, produced by de Vélayer, showing that payment had been made. From contemporary descriptions it would appear that these strips just had plain
text printed on them. These paper strips were called billet de port payé and their price was one sou. The venture appears not to have been very successful;
it ceased just after two years. None of these paper strip are known to exist today.
Until about 1700 the postal markings letters were endorsed by hand. In the early 1700s a start was made to introduce straight line postal markings.
By 1789 the whole country was covered with a postal network and relationships with neighbouring countries were established. The start of the revolution
in 1789 disrupted the postal service for a while.
Dated postmarks were introduced in France in the early 1800s.
The first postage stamps, depicting Ceres, were issued on 1 January 1849 and with the introduction of stamps various new marks were introduced to obliterate the stamps.
Following a vote on 21 November 1852 Napoleon III was declared Emperor and stamps depicting Napoleon’s head replaced the Ceres head. Initially the
stamps were inscribed REPUB FRANC and in August 1853 new stamps inscribed EMPIRE FRANC appeared.
In 1870 France went to war with Prussia. The French were defeated, the Emperor captured and the empire was dissolved.
A Third Republic was declared and a provisional government set up in Bordeaux. The Ceres design of the Second Republic was reintroduced and the stamps were
printed in Bordeaux.
The Prussians advanced and laid siege to Paris in September 1871 to February 1871. During the siege various methods were used to get mail in and out of Paris.
This included manned balloons, floating canisters and pigeons. Stamps were printed in Paris during the seige using plates from the 1849-1852 issue.
The French Postal Administration operated Post Offices in a number of different countries using French stamps.
During the First World War most of northern France was occupied by Germany.
Philatelic Societies for Collectors of French Stamps and French Postal History
France and Colonies Philatelic Society of Great Britain (UK) The Society provides an extensive programme of meetings in several locations, holds an annual Philatelic
Weekend, publishes a well regarded and authoritative Journal and series of monographs, and operates two thriving exchange packets and an
Auction. It is a friendly and informal group to which new members are always made most welcome.
The France & Colonies Philatelic Society (USA) The France & Colonies Group was organized in 1941 by seventeen philatelists who were interested in the stamps and postal history of
France and the French Community. It was incorporated in 1961 as the France and Colonies Philatelic Society, Inc. (New York, nonprofit).
Since then the membership has grown to more than 400 collectors throughout the American continent and overseas. The Society’s interest in
French philately includes the Colonies, Offices Abroad, Monaco, Europa, Territories, and new Independent Republics.
The Pigeon Post into Paris 1870-1871
by J.D. Hayhurst O.B.E The postal history of the siege of Paris has long been a subject of intensive study; much has been written, much remains to be written.
The research is mainly directed at the balloon post, occasionally at the boules de Moulins. In modern literature, references to the pigeon post are
not rare but tend to include semi-fictional anecdotes or confusions of one feature of the service with another....
The Pigeon Post into Paris 1870-1871 The pigeon post was in operation while Paris was besieged during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. The normal channels of communication
into and out of Paris were interrupted during the four and a half months of the siege, and it was not until the middle of February 1871 that the
Prussians relaxed their control of the postal and telegraph service...
The Pneumatic Post of Paris
by J.D. Hayhurst O.B.E The network in Paris was commenced in 1866 by the construction of an experimental line between the telegraph offices at Grand Hotel and place de la Bourse...
A Mauritius postal stationery newspaper wrapper from Curepipe to Leipzig in Germany with a French Sea Post cancellation Ligne T which was used for the Marseille to Nouméa via Australia route.
French Sea Posts and French Ligne Cancellations
by Julian H Jones, TPO & Seapost Society French Sea Posts commenced in earnest in the 1860's with services to the Caribbean and Mexico operated by the Compagnie General Transatlantique (CGT) steamship line of Paris.