The image below contains some cursive French but I can't make out more than a few words (larger version here)

Is this kind of writing normal in France?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Richard: Translations are off-topic. This question would be closed if left in its original form. Jan 1, 2015 at 15:14
  • @StéphaneGimenez - Fair enough. I'll leave it as-is.
    – Richard
    Jan 1, 2015 at 15:20

4 Answers 4


The text reads:

Je suis bien touchée de ce que vous me dites à ce sujet. Vous savez que mon coeur a toujours battu pour vous tous et je sais bien que c'est réciproque. La bonne Denise ne veut tout d'un coup pas accepter la croix de notre ordre mexicain que je lui ai envoyée sous prétexte que la Reine n'aimait pas les ordres et que c'était ce qui lui avait expliqué que je ne l'eusse pas comprise sous la première distribution. Je lui ai répondu que Grand' maman

It is a letter written in 1866 from Charlotte, the Empress of Mexico, to her uncle, the Duke of Nemours.

Source: Rice University http://scholarship.rice.edu/jsp/xml/1911/27238/1/aa00207.tei.html

I wouldn't qualify this as "normal" modern writing in France but I guess most of the doctors prescriptions I had in my life were less legible than that letter ;-)

  • Awesome. I've used Google/Translate on the text. I am touched by what you tell me about it. You know that my heart has always fought for all of you and I know it is reciprocal. Good Denise does suddenly to accept the cross of our Mexican order I sent him on the pretext that the Queen did not like orders and this was what had explained to him that I had not not included in the first distribution. I told him that Grandmother... is this broadly correct?
    – Richard
    Jan 1, 2015 at 10:26
  • 2
    "my heart has always fought for all of you" -> "has always beat for all of you", "Good Denise does suddenly to accept" -> "All of a sudden, good Denise doesn't want to accept"
    – jlliagre
    Jan 1, 2015 at 11:09

Nous avons tous notre propre façon d'écrire, notre propre calligraphie, plus ou moins lisible pour les autres. Celle de Charlotte ne me semble pas plus illisible que celle de nombreuses personnes, en France ou ailleurs, qui écrivent encore à la main et en lettres cursives. Le traitement de textes à l'ordinateur est en partie responsable du déclin de l'écriture cursive et contribue à la rendre désuète.

  • J'adore votre réponse
    – Rocket
    Jan 1, 2015 at 4:49
  • But is this style of writing actually considered normal in France?
    – Richard
    Jan 1, 2015 at 10:25
  • 2
    @Richard, cursive is still the normal handwriting in France. This one is more slanted and the lowercase letters are more vertically compressed than what I'm used to. I think there is also more influence from printed letters in modern mature handwriting, especially for uppercases. Jan 1, 2015 at 13:45

As already said, each person has his own kind of writing. As a genalogist, I studied the different kind of writing in France, and I can say this kind of writing is from about the middle of XIX century (although it may be different for each region).

So I would say that nowadays, this kind of writing is not normal in France.

  • Is it still readable/legible for the average french person?
    – Richard
    Jan 1, 2015 at 11:10
  • For average person, I would say : with difficulty.
    – frankee
    Jan 1, 2015 at 11:12

It's not easy to read.

Here is an example of the cursive hand-writing that's taught nowadays (and which is close to what I was taught in the 1960s).

enter image description here

So that's arguably the "normal" hand-writing ('normal' meaning correct or legislated, though not necessarily ordinary or average), which I'd expect anyone could read easily.

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