Monday, April 11, 2011

Dinner at 8 Part II

It seems that with all that has been happening lately, I have wandered off the beaten path of our tour of the SS France. Not to worry we are back on track and now heading down to Tourist Class, where dinner is on our minds!

If anyone were to read the current selection of books currently available to maritime aficionados on the SS. France one would be forgiven for thinking that the ship was all First Class. Many books rarely even mention the public spaces available to those not fortunate enough to be travelling First Class. So for maritime buff this can be a bit frustrating as there is so little out there. Travelling Tourist did not mean that you had to forsake any of the artistic and decorating savoir faire that First Class had. It only meant that rooms and spaces were more utilitarian in their approach and the art not as prolific. As mentioned before I felt that the Tourist Class Café Rive Gauche was one of the more adventurous rooms on the liner.

The Tourist Class Dining Room (Salle a Manger Versailles), even though less sumptuous in design than First Class was only one of two double deck height public spaces on the liner (the other being the First Class Salon Riviera). For tourist class passengers this was a welcome relief from the other single deck height rooms available to them. It also gave them the edge over those dining in First Class.

Designed and decorated by Marc Simon in tones of green, white and grey, Monsieur Simon made the most of the Polyrey and Formica he used. Formica walls were decoupaged with gold leaf abstract patterns, which softened the otherwise the clinical nature of formica.

The forward wall held a mural done in 14 engraved glass panels by Max Ingrand, as well as two tapestries, Les amoureux du printemps by Marc Saint-Saëns, and Paysage provençal by Auvigné.

Chairs were rather utilitarian in shape and upholstered in pale green leatherette. The reassuring thing is that the chairs used in Tourist Class look a little more comfortable for dining than the equivalents in First Class.
The room was perfectly suited to Tourist Class passengers who did not want the formality of First class. This was a room that reverberated with an elegance that was casual and relaxed.

For our younger passengers travelling tourist, there was a children's dining room attached to the main one. The room was furnished with bright coloured plastic chairs which were quite ahead in design, foretelling shapes and colours that would be used much later on in the decade.

After dinner we will head for towards the main salon for some after dinner dancing!


  1. Hello:
    This is absolutely fascinating and how wonderful to have located all of these images. Although it probably dates us - never a wise thing to do - if we remember correctly, we saw the SS France come into Southampton at either the start, or maybe end, of her maiden voyage. If this is not so, then it would have been very early on in her sailing history.
    Very recently we misased out on some china from the Union Castle Line [Southampton - Cape Town]. Prices, we fear, were just a little too high!!
    We shall look forward now to the after dinner dance - we already have our dancing shoes on!

  2. David, as I read your postings on the SS France, I realize that the various public spaces were not only showcases for French style, but also opportunities by the designers to push the limits of new materials. I really like the idea of formica with gold leaf overlays!

  3. I love the green leatherette chairs. I would use them today!
    Also, the open double deck height of the room was really sophisticated.

  4. You know David..I always look forward for your posts..Its like taking a chic history class...One that I actually won´t fell asleep during haha..I only wish history classes were like that back in school..Great post can´t wait for the next one

    The Black Label

  5. Only the French could use inexpensive materials and make them beautiful and artistic. The design becomes more important than the materials, and that is why often Christofle silverplate is more valuable than similar items in solid silver by less esteemed manufacturers.

    Those modern tapestries are sublime!

  6. That still looks very pretty. I wouldn't mind going on the tourist class. :-)

  7. Wow! What a cool post, I actually really love the children's dining room, and your right those colorful chairs were way ahead of their time!
    Nancy xo

  8. I knew nothing about this. Really fascinating. Is there anything like this nowadays, somewhere? I guess no, but it was worth asking anyway.

  9. Jane and Lance, What a wonderful experience to be there to witness such an arrival. I will keep the year secret so as not to betray you. Union Castle items can fetch amazingly high prices, especially on ebay. I limit myself to the paper products as they are much cheaper.

    Mark, you are so right, The ship like the SS United States supposedly carried no flammable materials except for a butcher's block. So designers had to come up with new ideas for using modern materials.

    Andy, I am glad you are not falling asleep!

    Belle, I think double height anything is really sophisticated.

    Mr SWF, yes only the French. They were true master craftsmen!

    Fickle Cattle, many thanks for your visit. Yes Tourist Class was fairly luxurious.

    JAson, I will swap you for them.

    Nancy, actually so much of the ship was ahead of its time. check out my other posts on the liner.

    Pet, not really. The last true Atlantic liner that even came close was the QE2, however her original interiors were long gone eons ago.


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