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Total advert as photographed in 2012When I first came to France in the late 1960’s one of the major differences between France and England was that many houses had advertisements painted on their walls. This was obviously more prominent if the house faced onto a main road. The adverts were largely for alcoholic drinks such as Dubonnet, Suze, and Ricard, non alcoholic drinks like Coca Cola, then adverts for petrol, such as Total and Esso but there were also others less common.

When did this form of advertisement stop? It was obviously laborious to paint the advert on the walls. Once it was possible to print large sheets of paper with adverts and paste these up then this would be a preferable form of advertising. Not only would it be cheaper but it would also enable more complex images including photographs to be displayed.

Furthermore when the road system was improved by the construction of the motorway network and the duel carrriaging of old roads then perhaps the days of availability of houses close enough to the roads would have been severely reduced so I suspect this form of advertising died out in the 1960s. However if you have more concrete evidence then please let me know.

I have started taking photos of these old advertisements. They still exist but are now very faded and some are no longer recognisable. In addition because adverts were often overpainted you now get images of two adverts, one on top of another, which is quite confusing.

Recently I took a trip down the N10 from Ruffec towards Angouleme and turned off at several places, for example Mansle to follow the old N10 and take photos of adverts which are still visible….sort of.

With a lot of time and patience it is possible to digitally restore these adverts to something like their original appearance. One has to maximise the picture and then look for a bit of paintwork that looks as near as possible to the original. Then  that colour can be copied and cloned  across the  rest of the advertisement where that colour was used. One then moves on to the next colour and so on till  all the colours have been restored and the advert looks something like it would have done the day it was painted.

I have done this for two adverts, one for Total which I photographed in Les Salles Negres and another for Azur which I photographed in Mansle.

If you know where there are any more of these old adverts then please let me know.

I have looked these up on the internet and there is not much info available. There is a site on FLICKR and a couple of others from America. It seems that these adverts are also refered to as ghost signs or fading ads or brickads.