As someone who’s always dreaming of traveling or trying to go somewhere new, I couldn’t help but smile when I heard about this year’s EUROPA tourism-centered stamp theme. Since 1993, PostEurop has run the annual EUROPA stamp program. Each year the postal unions of participating European countries design and print a stamp based on a common theme. Past themes have highlighted everything from famous women (1996) to astronomy (2009) and writing letters (2008). Fifty-one postal entities participated in this year’s tourism-themed competition designing “Visit” stamps. Even if you can’t afford to travel, let your mailbox help you “visit” France, Switzerland, the Vatican or any of the other participating countries. As part of the fun, stamp lovers worldwide got to vote online for their favorite stamp. Yesterday in Paris, during the Planet Timbres exhibition, PostEurop announced that Magyar Posta’s (Hungary) stamp won this year’s Gold Award. (PostEurop also runs a EUROPA Jury Prize Competition in which philately experts choose a winning stamp. The Russian Post won this year’s jury prize.)
While France didn’t win any prizes this year, I think La Poste’s stamp fulfills its promise. The stamp features five key French sites/monuments chosen to highlight the rich cultural and natural heritage we have here waiting for visitors to discover. All of the sites have been honored by UNESCO and figure on the World Heritage List. Without further ado, let’s go on a 5-stop “visit” to France!:
- Le Cirque de Mafate–Hikers flock to La Réunion’s isolate caldera to experience some of the most isolated, rugged and beautiful wilderness on Earth. A landscape worth the effort to discover!
- La Tour Eiffel/The Eiffel Tower–It’s tempting to just write “no comment” here; the Eiffel Tower is the symbol of France to millions of people worldwide. Part of the Banks of the Seine UNESCO listing, Gustave Eiffel’s iron lady continues to welcome visitors to Paris every day.
- Le Pont du Gard–One of the best preserved Roman aqueducts in the world, second only to the Aqueduct of Segovia, the Pont du Gard was built-in the 1st century! Three tiers of arches make up the highest Roman roman aqueduct bridge ever built–an amazing architectural feat that I plan to see for myself one day.
- Le Mont Saint-Michel/The Mont Saint Michel–No tourism-stamp could overlook France’s third most-visited site! The Mont Saint Michel has been attracting tourists and pilgrims alike since construction started in 708! I can’t drive by without admiring its graceful silhouette.
- La place Stanislas–The Duke of Lorraine Stanislas Leszczynski’s desire to create a modern 18th-century capital led to the creation of the Place Stanislas between 1752-1756. Elegant, functional and perfect for exploring, Nancy is already part of our dream French road trip! One day….
Now go out and visit France!