I am having a really tough time in France since my French is survivalist at best and that doesn't seem to work with locals. I thought I'd post this on expats.SE and hope that I receive help.

Purchasing stamps and envelopes

  • I am unable to buy stamps and envelopes and I don't know where to. The local La Poste is open only M-F and during the times I work so I cannot go to the post office.
  • The tabacs I go to do not have stamps EVER!
  • I have gone online to the La Poste website and have ordered stamps but I don't know what kind of envelope to get and I am at my wits end. Should I get a "Lettre verte" a "letter prioritae" or a "letter reccomandee"? I need to send mail within France and to the United States and India and I just don't know what to do.

Any help on this matter would be appreciated.


On the Travel.SE site, there exists an interesting question on combining French stamps, which I have only found now.

1 Answer 1


Despite the word “lettre”, “lettre prioritaire”, “lettre verte” or “lettre recommandée” are not types of envelopes but service levels (with different prices/stamps)

  • “Lettre prioritaire” is the regular mail. You can find stamps for “lettre prioritaire France” (red stamps, currently EUR 0.66 for less than 20g), “lettre prioritaire Europe” (EUR 0.83) and “lettre prioritaire monde” (which you would need for the US or India, EUR 0.98 for 20g).
  • “Lettre verte” is a discount service with somewhat slower delivery. It's only available for letters to France.
  • “Lettre recommandée” is registered mail. Within France, official notifications must be sent as “recommandé avec accusé de réception”, in particular to have a proof they were indeed received.

You can always buy individual stamps, pre-stamped envelopes (“prêt-à-poster” or “postexport”) or combine several stamps to reach the required price (even those that have no value printed on them). If you only have red or green stamps on hand, you can therefore put two of them to send something abroad (you would be paying a little more than the actual price).

For example, these red “Marianne et la jeunesse” are regular “lettre prioritaire” stamps. You only need one for France, but you will need to use two of them or an “add-on stamp” (“complément d'affranchissement”) for India or the US. There are various add-on stamps, e.g. for EUR 1.00 or EUR 0.10. They can be used together with a regular stamp (e.g. for heavier letters or for international letters) but not alone.

For documents sent as an international “lettre prioritaire”, the French post office recommends these dimensions:

Dimensions: Minimales: 14X9cm, maximales: 23,5x12cm pour les cartes, L+l+h=90cm avec L = 60 cm pour les enveloppes

  • Thank you, your answer helps. I just purchased a bunch of "Marianne et le jeunesse" stamps. So I assume that these can be used on any envelope and this would signify that it is a "lettre prioritaire"? What about the orange stamps.
    – dearN
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 12:27
  • 1
    @drN The red Marianne stamps are indeed “lettre prioritaire” stamps. You only need one for France, but you will need to use two of them or an “add-on stamp” (“complément d'affranchissement”) for India or the US. The orange ones are such add-on stamps. They can be used together with another stamp (e.g. for heavier letters) but not alone.
    – Gala
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 12:35
  • FYI: The purchase of the red Marianne et le jeunesse stamps was made online.
    – dearN
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 12:35
  • thank you. Do you think you could add your comment about the "letter prioritaire" and "add on stamps" as an example in your answer. That may help future generations of frustrated expats? ;)
    – dearN
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 12:36
  • 1
    @drN I don't think so, the website states that it's not possible (“Ces timbres ne peuvent être utilisés seuls”).
    – Gala
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 12:44

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