After I finish telling you about this, I’m going to write a letter to someone; with a pen, and a piece of paper, and an envelope. Because, when was the last time you received a beautiful letter? This is the question being asked by Lettres d’un Inconnu (Letters from a Stranger), a most charming new start-up based out of Montmartre, here in Paris. With a dream to revive the lost art of receiving and writing handwritten notes, Lettres d’un Inconnu is a subscription service that brings you two beautiful letters each month written by a stranger, hand prepared and personally addressed to you on fine stationary with love and care from the heart of Paris, Montmartre, and delivered to your letterbox by your local postman.
Subscriptions to these unique letters are available in English, but if you’re keen to refresh your language skills, you can receive your letters in French from a stranger recounting a personal memory, a chance encounter, an intimate confession from afar…
This short video (in French) beautifully illustrate the project:
Last Christmas, Lettres d’un Inconnu founder, a Mademoiselle Fanny Auger, wrote and sent out about 40 cards and received only three herself. Either the postman was playing a cruel joke on her or people just don’t know how to write letters anymore; they can’t find the words, or maybe can’t even find a pen.
“Everyday, when I open my mailbox, my naivety fills my heart, for a fraction of a second I’m hoping to find something other than bills or advertising,” says Fanny, sharing an all too familiar feeling.
As much as we communicate through email, text, messenger, Skype, she says we’ve lost a certain essence. “Reading a letter is a moment for yourself. We may read the letter while standing next to the mailbox, keep it in our bag or pocket until we have a moment spare. A moment to share the sender’s sentiments, the stranger who wrote the letter and told you their story.”
I’m going to be terribly cliché about it and say this is just the sort of romance we owe ourselves in what can often seem like very unromantic times.
Allow yourself that frivolous moment in your day to imagine a different life, another era of communication. Some handwritten, some typed in delicate fonts, some featuring pictures, poetry or illustrations; these are letters to hold on to, hide in a shoebox somewhere or carry around and keep close at all times for re-reading.
Since Lettres d’un Inconnu was born in October 2012, Miss Auger, a well-travelled literature graduate (and fellow MessyNessyChic reader!), has sent out more than 10,000 letters from the Abbesses post office in Montmartre. The authors of the letters are sometimes known Parisian personalities, sometimes unknown or totally anonymous. The stories they share are always real.
“Around me, people always tell me about their extra-ordinary life stories, some life stories that simply touch me, and deserve to be told, to be written, and shared with the world,” Fanny explains, who also encourages subscribers to reply to their letters on occasion by post, email or even the social networking sites (let’s hope she’ll get more than three Christmas cards this year). Perhaps you also have a letter to share with Fanny and the community of subscribers; one you wrote or one you’ve cherished?
“Why would only great authors have the chance to have their stories and letters published?” Fanny asks. “My objective is to find, investigate, curate letters that are as beautiful and extraordinary, written by some ‘ordinary’ strangers.”
Feed your nostalgia, discover Lettres d’un Inconnu.
Gift subscriptions are also available– (an original idea for loved ones you haven’t been able to find the time to write often).
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