The postcard was sent on January 27th, 1877 from Sains-du-Nord, 10 kilometres from the intended recipient in Trélon.
Despite the short distance, the card took an incredible 138 years to arrive at its destination.
It was finally delivered a few days ago to Thérèse Pailla, the great-granddaughter of the addressee, who was as surprised as the postman.
“The postman brought it to me. He and his colleagues were surprised. Me too,” Pailla, who is in her eighties, told La Voix du Nord.
In the letter, which is still legible, the sender refers to an order of yarn from a spinning mill that once owned by Pailla’s great-grandfather, who died in 1897.
It is as yet unclear whether the belated arrival was due to a postal error or if the letter was recently found and re-posted. France’s postal service La Poste has said it will investigate.
In a statement, the regional post service described the late delivery as a “very exceptional” case, pointing out that it wasn’t necessarily the same postal service as today.
“It can sometimes happen that a letter gets lost when a locker is dusted, tidied or moved. A letter can fall accidentally and is found years later. But, generally, it’s quite rare. A decade or so, that’s possible, but a century…”