Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Vedette, Sambin

Inspired by the battle taking place right now in my ears between Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 and a spinning washing machine, here are two painted signs spotted earlier this year on a house and the farm building a few metres away, at the entrance of the tiny town of Sambin, France. I should thank my dad for making a last minute stop on the verge of the road and letting me take those pictures. Fortunately there was no gendarme around as I stepped out without wearing a high-viz jacket... (click on the picture to enlarge it)

Left (with the lighter blue bakground):
Mer Tél. 56

Réfrigérateurs - Machines à Laver - Congélateurs
R. Bauer


Part of the sign on the farm building has disappeared but one can guess what is missing.

Réfrigérateurs - Lave-linge
Machines à laver
Mer Ets. [Établissements] Bauer
4 et 6, Place de la Halle

In 1947 French company Vedette launched its first washing machine. Although sales remained limited immediately after the war, they rapidly increased throughout the 1950s and 1960s and Vedette became a household name. Fridges (réfrigérateurs) and freezers (congélateurs) followed and were equally popular. Between 1972 and the early 1980s, a whole series of TV ads for Vedette washing machines starred Jeanne Marie Le Calvé, better known as La Mère Denis, a washerwoman from Normandy, whose accent, smile, good nature, and laugh became rapidly known throughout France and even as far as Japan.
Since we didn't have any TV at home until I was nine or so I can't say I remember thoses ads but the name of Mère Denis is familiar indeed. What I remember though is the old Vedette washing machine my parents bought in the mid-1960s, and which lasted until the early 1990s. As for the fridge of the same brand, it is still in the kitchen after 45 years...

With regards to retailer Bauer, a search in the yellow pages shows they are still doing business from 4/6, Place de la Halle in Mer, a small town of 6,000 inhabitants between Blois and Orléans, about 40 km away from Sambin. And the last two digits of their phone number are 56.

Location: Rue du Bourg Neuf, Sambin, Loir-et-Cher, France / Both pictures taken on: 29/05/2009

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