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Une bouteille à la mer / A Bottle From the Sea…

Some messages in bottles are obviously messages – they contain eye-catching scrolls that bring to mind love letters and treasure maps. These bottled letters are made with care, and practically scream to beachcombers “PICK ME UP!!!” Others are not so obvious. Just look at the bottle below. Best I could tell, it looked like a map or directory of some sort. There was no visible writing – nothing to distinguish it from trash:

Pauline Baranger Message in a Bottle on the Beach

I found it years ago along with a few other messages in bottles:

Clint Buffington with bouteille à la mer on the Beach

Fun facts: The green bottle 2nd from left is the one I solved with the Salt Lake Tribune, and the clear one 2nd from right is the message in a bottle from a Charleston sailor to King Neptune, and the green one at far right is the Flaschenpost sent by Peter Krusemeyer 🙂

Anyway, this bottle did not appear to contain a message at all. So why open it? Be honest: If you found this mess in a bottle, would you really go to the trouble of painstakingly opening and dissecting it? I only kept it as an example of the strange stuff (maps, pages from phone books, etc.) that people cram into bottles and send out to sea.

Bottled Map Reveals Its Secrets

In a fit of cleaning a few months ago, I decided the time had come to open this bottle and see if it contained any secrets or if I could throw it away. I used the standard tools: dremel tool, forceps, scalpel, hammer, flat screwdriver, etc.

bouteille à la mer - Opening Pauline Baranger Message in a Bottle

The paper was fragile and difficult to unroll. It appeared to be merely a map after all. But juuust out of curiosity, I pried apart the crispy layers of the map with the scalpel.

That was when I made a breathtaking discovery – there was handwriting hidden inside!

I couldn’t believe it! I had been holding onto this bottle for years, certain that it contained nothing but a bit of discarded map. And yet, hidden between the layers of the map was beautiful and intriguing writing, all in French. In fact, this was not a “message in a bottle,” but rather “une bouteille à la mer” as the French say. “A bottle from the sea.” This felt like magic to me – I felt like Harry Potter with the Marauder’s Map, revealing secrets long hidden…

bouteille à la mer - Pauline Baranger Message in a Bottle Map of Quiberon

The message is battered and missing chunks, so it is impossible to know everything that was originally written on this paper.

bouteille à la mer - Pauline Baranger Message Fragments 2 bouteille à la mer - Pauline Baranger Message Fragments

Lucky for this bouteille à la mer, one significant section of the letter remains.

bouteille à la mer - Pauline Baranger Full Text

Below is the best translation I have received of the writing (thanks to mon ami Pierre!):


vous venez de trouver (la bouteille?)
… qu’elle a bien voyagé…
je m’appelle Pauline et j’ai 12 ans…
… de passage chez mon papi…
… ils ont une chienne qui se nomme A…
… j’ai passé Noël en famille
… de 12 ans un basset hound. Dire… (???)
… maman, papa et Emilie ma…
… j’ai été très gâtée…


you just found (the bottle?)
… that she traveled well …
My name is Pauline and I’m 12 years old …
… visiting my grandfather …
… they have a dog named A …
… I spent Christmas with my family
… 12 years old a basset hound.Saying … (???)
… mom, dad and Emilie my …
… I was very spoiled …

Help Find Pauline Baranger of Quiberon, France

Pauline gave an address in the message – her parents’ home in Quiberon. I have blurred out that address in the photos, but I did write to it and never received a reply. They could have moved away… Perhaps their house has been bulldozed and replaced by a McDonalds?

The other name — Emilie — Is that a sister? Emilie Baranger?

There are Pauline Barangers on Facebook, and I have sent messages to several. No responses yet. My messages are likely in their “message requests” folder since we are not connected. These Paulines may never see the messages I sent. This is why I need help…

I do not know when this bottle was sent – only that I found it in 2012.

Based on the condition of the bottle, cap, and the message itself, I believe it was at sea between 5-10 years. If Pauline sent it when she was 12, I think she would be between about 20 and 30 years old today, but that is just a guess.

So here I am, asking for your help again! If you know anyone who lives in France, please please pretty please share this story with them and help me find Pauline Baranger of Quiberon! She may be an adult now, but we can still make her childhood bouteille à la mer dream come true!bouteille à la mer - Pauline Baranger Message and Map

More Message in a Bottle Facts, History, Stories, Photos, Video, and Hoaxes

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