Friday, February 4, 2011

After Dinner Dancing en Paquebot France

If one was not predisposed to take in the more subdued and quieter atmosphere in the Salon Riviera, first class passengers made their way after dinner to the First Class Grand Salon (Salon Fontainebleau) for some after dinner dancing or a gala evening.

Designed and decorated by Maxime Old the Salon Fontainebleau had a raised ceiling in the centre, with lower more intimate spaces at the corners to encourage conversation amongst passengers. A similar use of space was used in the Tourist Class Café Rive Gauche. The general colour tone of the room was gray with gold highlights. In what would colloquially described as "Mad Men Style" today, the overall effect is a lot more refined and pure than anything the Mad Men designers have come up with to date.

Capacious and bright the room was flooded with natural light during the day via large windows on each side. The ceiling constructed of suspended aluminium beams, and plates of frosted glass was designed by Disderot and hovered over a grey, green and white marble mosaic dance floor. The walls on which stunning abstract tapestries were hung were fabricated and constructed of vitrified molten glass. This gave the room an almost ceremonial atmosphere.

On the base of grey the room was a visual feast of colour, with tapestries taking pride and place around the exterior walls. As with all other tapestries on the ship these were woven and produced off artist's drawings by Aubusson. A triptych of tapestries by Lucien Coutard entitled "Les Femmes Fleurs" were hung immediately behind the bandstand. A riot of colour these were typical of Coutard's work, portraying floral couples constructed from various components of plants and flowers, such as petals and leaves with human legs and arms.

Additional tapestries by Claude Idoux entitled "Jardin Magique"and "Fee Mirabelle" consisting of variegated vertical white bands and a phantasmagoria of abstract riotous colour within hung on opposite walls.

Two more tapestries by Camille Hilaire entitled "Sous Bois" and "Foret de France" shimmered like stain glass or some pirate's treasure chest.

My esteemed maritime historian whom I mentioned in other posts called the seating "unfortunate" complaining that it was too heavy and lacked style. As said before I a not sure whether he realises it or not that this was the sixties and the SS France was ushering in a new era. The seating designed by Maxime Old consisted of a variety of armchairs in similar rather elongated lines upholstered in either leather or fabric, in the most wonderful yellows and blues. Seating groups were grouped around metal framed coffee tables of which some were tiled. For gala evenings to accommodate all extra folding chairs in blue leather were bought in as extra seating.

Overall a tour de force of wonderful design colour and light. A lasting credit to Monsieur Old!


  1. I really like the chairs.
    I swear I have a very similar table in my cellar like the one in the seventh picture. I don't use it because it has to be cleaned 500 times a day but if I had those chairs (the greenish and light blue ones) I would definitely revive it.

  2. Hi David, you may be interested in what they had for dinner Please feel free to reblog! Cheers Glen H

  3. wow, what a space. the line of those chairs is perfect, such a great shape.

  4. Great room I would so see my self there just glamourosly hanging around haha...Love the lights on top of the dancefloor...the chairs are awesome so is the art on the wall...just awe inspiring


  5. How glamourous! If cruise-ships still had this much glamour and charm, I might be inclined to want to take on. Beautiful interiors

  6. A bygone era of wonderful glamour. Brilliant selection of photos, David.
    Or maybe the era isn't so bygone: As you mentioned, the whole "Mad Men" thing has exploded onto the scene, resurrecting the 50's and early 60's. And over here in Europe, the peak of chic in various hotels, restaurants and lounges is definitely 50's-style. (Even the word "lounge" says it all; the 50's are back!)
    Take care,

  7. Sometimes I feel so sick with pitty for myself :-))) I realize that the era I read about in your posts are long gone and I will never be a part of it. Thank you for another beautifl post! I am wishing you wonderful Sunday full of sunlight and joy.:-)

  8. I like the natural light in that room. And the 50's style has just such a fun atmosphere.
    xoxo, A
    I'm following you, want to follow me back?

  9. I wish "dinner and dancing" hadn't fallen out of favor.

  10. David, I have to agree with Jill and the art is fabulous!!

    Art by Karena

  11. I like the way the simple, almost minimalist rooms are enhanced by the rich, detailed, colourful murals and tapestries. Too bad we cannot see "Les Femmes Fleurs" tapestries in detail. I'll bet they are charming.

    I also like the artist's renderings of the salons. That casual, loose, sketchy style is so very much typical of 1960s illustration.

  12. Joe, I would be bring it out now! Regardless of whether I had the chairs or not!

    Glenh, many thanks for your visit and I can see a reblog coming on. Love all your Flickr photos.

    Jules, they are perfect aren't they?

    Andy, as always thanks. Umm we should be hanging out in places like this!

    FT, yes if only cruises were as glam as this!

    Michael, yes the 50's and 60,s are coming back. What I appreciate about the actual era is that it was all completely new, not a revival of any particular style.

    Anya, I too wish we could go back!

    Amanda, thanks for your visit! I too love the light!

    Jill, I will take you to dinner and then dancing!

    Karena, I too love the art and the tapestries!

    Mr. SWF I would love to see these up close and examine the deatil. I always like real artists architectural renderings, so much more effective than the computer generated images we have today of new projects


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