Posts tagged: le havre

The art of the Baie de Seine

Brittany Ferries introduced the Baie de Seine on their ‘économie’ services in Spring 2015; it was immediately clear that, although still a ro-pax rather than a cruise ferry, she featured an altogether more sophisticated passenger environment than the initial économie ship, the Etretat, which retained her essentially factory-fit Visentini interior design by Studio Ancora. For the Baie de Seine, however, BF went to some lengths to make the vessel feel more like one of their own.

Although ordered by Lloyd Sardegna back in 1999, delays at her Polish yard meant that the ship which became the Baie de Seine was never completed as intended and the order was cancelled. Instead, together with her earlier sister, she was acquired by DFDS and named Dana Sirena (the other vessel becoming Dana Gloria). For her intended role as the new Harwich-Esbjerg ship the ‘Sirena’ enjoyed quite substantial reconfiguring with the interior design being masterminded by Steen Friis, who was also behind the Maersk ‘D’ Class and Stena’s Killingholme quartet.

When the Dana Sirena, by then Sirena Seaways, passed to Brittany Ferries various pieces of DFDS artwork were removed, although some remain. To fill the gaps, the French operator delved into their warehouse and reintroduced pieces which had once featured on earlier ships – in particular the Duc de Normandie and Val de Loire.

Duc de Normandie

Duc de Normandie

The most represented artist on board is Serge Hanin, who in the early 1990s was commissioned to provide 25 pieces for the Normandie and then a further 20 for the Val de Loire. Appropriately enough, Hanin is from Lillebonne, just outside Le Havre, which port the Baie de Seine would be serving in her initial season.

Val de Loire

Val de Loire

In a further DFDS link, some of the pieces now aboard the Baie de Seine remained on the Val de Loire when that ship was sold to DFDS in 2006. For her first year as the King of Scandinavia, she retained much of her French artwork and several of the large ship models. These were subsequently replaced with items from DFDS’s own collection and returned to BF.

Forward on Deck 7 of the Baie de Seine is Le Cafe, which features a pair of paintings from Le Rabelais, the main bar of the old Val de Loire (the one on the right hung in the arcade leading to the bar on the starboard side).

Forward on Deck 7 of the Baie de Seine is Le Cafe, which features a pair of paintings from Le Rabelais, the main bar of the old Val de Loire (the one on the right hung in the arcade leading to the bar on the starboard side).

Le Rabelais, Val de Loire, January 2006.

Le Rabelais, Val de Loire (January 2006).

On Deck 8 forward is the Baie de Seine's main bar; this view looking over to port shows four different pieces.

On Deck 8 forward is the Baie de Seine’s main bar; this view looking over to port shows four different pieces.

The lady in the red dress is one of Serge Hanin's favourites and she appears in a variety of his pieces. The larger one on the left in this view was previously in Le Rabelais bar on the Val de Loire. The smaller portrait hung in the seating area adjacent to the shopping centre on the Val de Loire's Deck 9.

The lady in the red dress is one of Serge Hanin’s favourites and she appears in a variety of his pieces. The larger painting on the left in this view was previously in Le Rabelais on the Val de Loire. The smaller portrait hung in the seating area adjacent to the shopping centre on the Val’s Deck 9.

It can just about be seen here, behind the pillar, still in position on the King of Scandinavia in October 2006.

It can just about be seen here, behind the pillar, still in position on the King of Scandinavia in October 2006.

Another view of the Baie de Seine's bar, looking this time to starboard.

Another view of the Baie de Seine’s bar, looking this time to starboard.

This bored-looking waiter was once located on the starboard side of the main bar on the Val de Loire.

This bored-looking waiter was once located on the starboard side of the Le Rabelais.

Le Rabelais bar, Val de Loire, seen in January 2003.

Le Rabelais bar, Val de Loire (January 2003).

More of Hanin's grotesques from the Val de Loire this painting, now in the Baie de Seine's main bar, was previously located in the forward port corner of the bar/lounge of Le Rabelais.

More of Hanin’s grotesques from the Val de Loire – this painting, now in the Baie de Seine’s main bar, was previously located in the forward port corner of Le Rabelais.

Continuing aft on Deck 8 of the Baie de Seine, next is La Formule Self Service Restaurant. This predominantly features works that once hung aboard the Duc de Normandie but the view above also incorporates another Hanin from Le Rabelais (just visible to the left on the far bulkhead).

Continuing aft on Deck 8 of the Baie de Seine, next is La Formule Self Service Restaurant. This predominantly features works that once hung aboard the Duc de Normandie but the view above also incorporates another Hanin from Le Rabelais (just visible in the upper centre of this image).

The Columbus Club on the King of Scandinavia (ex-Val de Loire) in 2006, with the aforementioned picture still in place.

The Columbus Club on the King of Scandinavia (ex-Val de Loire) in 2006, with the aforementioned picture still in place.

The second of the pictures in the last-but-one image is a landscape scene from the Honfleur Restaurant on the Duc de Normandie, as pictured here in 2004.

The second of the pictures in the last-but-one image is a landscape scene from the Honfleur Restaurant on the Duc de Normandie, as pictured here in 2004.

The starboard side of the Baie de Seine's self-service. The artwork in this area is from the Duc de Normandie's L'Alembic bar.

The starboard side of the Baie de Seine’s self-service. The artwork in this area is from the Duc de Normandie’s L’Alembic bar.

L'Alembic bar, Duc de Normandie in 2003.

L’Alembic bar, Duc de Normandie in 2003.

La Formule self service, Baie de Seine (2015).

La Formule self service, Baie de Seine (2015).

La Formule self service, Baie de Seine (2015).

La Formule self service, Baie de Seine (2015).

L'Alembic Bar, Duc de Normandie, (2004).

L’Alembic Bar, Duc de Normandie (2004).

The Reading Lounge on the Baie de Seine, previously the Commodore Lounge in DFDS service.

The Reading Lounge on the Baie de Seine, previously the Commodore Lounge in DFDS service.

Hanging in the aft port corner is this work, by Jean Yves Blécon.

Hanging in the aft port corner is this work, by Jean Yves Blécon.

This previously could be found in the forward section of the Duc de Normandie's Honfleur restaurant (just about visible behind the partition in this image from 2004).

This previously could be found in the forward section of the Honfleur Restaurant on the Duc de Normandie (just about visible behind the partition in this image from 2004).

More art hangs in the Baie de Seine's stairwells and corridors. This painting shows a running of the bulls by the Catalan artist Lluis Busse.

More art hangs in the Baie de Seine’s stairwells and corridors. This painting shows a running of the bulls by the Catalan artist Lluis Busse.

Here it is alongside a matching painting on the starboard side of La Magdalena self service restaurant on the Val de Loire in 2006.

Here it is alongside a matching painting on the starboard side of La Magdalena self service restaurant on the Val de Loire in January 2006.

This Hanin, in the forward port side stairwell of the Baie de Seine, is another from Le Rabelais on the Val de Loire.

This Hanin, in the forward port side stairwell of the Baie de Seine, is another from Le Rabelais on the Val de Loire.

The port side of Le Rabelais, Val de Loire, in 2006. The chairs in the foreground, incidentally, were originally on the Pont-Aven.

The port side of Le Rabelais, Val de Loire, in 2006. The chairs in the foreground, incidentally, were originally on the Pont-Aven.

This scene of Spanish dancers is by Lluis Busse and was originally hung by the entrance to the self service restaurant on the Val de Loire.

This scene of Spanish dancers is by Lluis Busse and was originally hung by the entrance to the self service restaurant on the Val de Loire.

La Magdalena self service restaurant on the Val de Loire in January 2003 with the mentioned painting to the left.

La Magdalena self service restaurant on the Val de Loire in January 2003 with the mentioned painting to the left.

A final Hanin from Le Rabelais.

A final Hanin from Le Rabelais.

Here it is in its original location on the Val de Loire (2003).

Here it is in its original location on the Val de Loire (2003).

Also hanging in a stairwell on the Baie de Seine is this piece by Concepció Boncompte. It looks familiar and she definitely provided art for the Val de Loire but I haven't been able to place it on board that ship. It is dated 1989 which would be unusual - the 'Val' entered service with Brittany Ferries in 1993 and the company usually commissioned artworks rather than buying them off the shelf.

Also hanging in a stairwell on the Baie de Seine is this piece by Concepció Boncompte. It looks familiar and she definitely provided art for the Val de Loire but I haven’t been able to place it on board that ship. It is dated 1989 which would be unusual – the ‘Val’ entered service with Brittany Ferries in 1993 and the company usually commissioned artworks rather than buying them off the shelf.

Last but not least, something slightly different graces the bridge of the Baie de Seine - a splendid image of the Prinz Oberon of 1970 which served DFDS between 1981 and 1984.

Last but not least, something slightly different graces the bridge of the Baie de Seine – a splendid image of the Prinz Oberon of 1970 which served DFDS between 1981 and 1984.

Brochure Browsing – P&O Normandy Ferries, 1977

In 1976 Normandy Ferries expanded from their original operations in the western Channel based at Southampton and opened a new service between Dover and Boulogne – the latter approximately 90km from Normandy itself. The operator, established in 1967, had been a joint venture between the British P&O and French SAGA, SAGA having been a storied cross-channel operator in their own right in the inter-war period.

The Boulogne service used the Lion, late of P&O’s Ardrossan-Larne service (formerly Burns & Laird) and was something of a gamble. P&O’s presence at Dover was not welcomed by the establishment operators, and memoranda from meetings of the cartel that fixed rates and operations around this time express the view that Normandy Ferries were a “black leg” (sic) who would not be invited to “join the club” (P&O subsequently attended various meetings but were always resented by Sealink and Townsend Thoresen for adding further capacity to a market which already had too much and for driving down fares so that everyone struggled to make money).

This brochure shows the Normandy Ferries operation just after the commencement of the Boulogne service and before the second vessel, the nf Tiger, was brought into operation in 1978.

Whilst the Dragon and Leopard were superior, elegant overnight car ferries with comfortable interiors and harmonious lines, the Lion was a robust little ship with only a few concessions to real luxury.

Whilst the Dragon and Leopard were superior, elegant overnight car ferries with comfortable interiors and harmonious lines, the Lion was a robust little ship with only a few concessions to real luxury.

"We don't put our car ferries on any old route." In reality Normandy Ferries had spotted a gap in the market as BR/Sealink had focussed on the shorter Dover-Calais operation rather than Dover-Boulogne which, just a decade earlier, had been the centre of their short-sea car ferry services.

“We don’t put our car ferries on any old route.” In reality Normandy Ferries had spotted a gap in the market as BR/Sealink had focussed on the shorter Dover-Calais operation rather than Dover-Boulogne which, just a decade earlier, had been the centre of their short-sea car ferry services.

"Lion obligingly provides a comfortable sun deck!" Complete with deckchairs, perhaps the last to be seen on a short-sea ferry.

“Lion obligingly provides a comfortable sun deck!” Complete with deckchairs, perhaps the last to be seen on a short-sea ferry.

Our passengers have espied something interesting from the Lion's upper forward lounge.

Our passengers have espied something interesting from the Lion’s upper forward lounge.

"Lion gives you individual shops plus a shipboard supermarket - to give you one of the best shopping centres afloat". These facilities had certainly been beefed up compared to her Irish Sea days when a dual information desk/shop was supplemented in the summer by the conversion of a cabin into an additional retail outlet.

“Lion gives you individual shops plus a shipboard supermarket – to give you one of the best shopping centres afloat”. These facilities had certainly been beefed up compared to her Irish Sea days when a dual information desk/shop was supplemented in the summer by the conversion of a cabin into an additional retail outlet.

Enjoying a full English in the Lion's cafeteria.

Enjoying a full English in the Lion’s cafeteria.

Things look slightly more formal in this view of the restaurant on either Leopard or Dragon.

Things look slightly more formal in this view of the restaurant on either Leopard or Dragon.

The neatly-detailed main lobby on the Southampton pair, with its central lift shaft, oval mezzanine and sweeping open-tread staircase remains one of the most attractive spaces on any cross-channel ferry.

The neatly-detailed main lobby on the Southampton pair, with its central lift shaft, oval mezzanine and sweeping open-tread staircase remains one of the most attractive spaces on any cross-channel ferry.

The Dover-Boulogne service expanded to three ships in 1980 and, after SAGA’s exit, operated under the P&O Ferries name. Both routes were acquired by Townsend Thoresen in late 1984 and the five ships fairly quickly withdrawn from Channel service.

Blast from the Past: Thoresen Car Ferries, 1964

1964 saw the arrival on the Western English Channel of the Viking I and Viking II of newcomer Thoresen Car Ferries. British Railways had closed their loss-making services in advance, confident that money simply couldn’t be made out of these operations. Thoresen very quickly showed them how it could be done and a third passenger ship, the Viking III, followed in 1965.

To illustrate just how different the Viking I and II were, consider that they were delivered in between British Rail’s almost embarrasingly conservative Avalon (1963) and the Dover/Holyhead Ferry I (1965). What must have passengers made of these amazing, thoroughly modern ships?

Equally impressive and modern ferries would follow from other operators and, latterly British Rail themselves. Yet the Vikings stood out for more than just their orange hulls. Styled by Tage Wandborg at KEH, these were utterly gorgeous little ships with modern, Scandinavian interiors and, on a practical level, completely clutter-free, drive-through vehicle decks.

The three original Vikings proved successful beyond just their initial careers – each lived to see their 40th birthday with the premier ship, ranking alongside the likes of the Forde, Free Enterprise and Princess Victoria (I) as one of Britain’s most significant car ferries, being the first to be scrapped in 2008. This post however celebrates the halcyon initial days of Thoresen when they were the newcomer and swept all before them in a wave of style and modernity. The sad evolution to ‘establishment operator’ and the services’ ultimate demise under P&O in the early 21st century was not a pretty sight – P&O clearly hadn’t learnt the lessons of innovation and investment taught by Otto Thoresen himself at the outset.

Show below is a Thoresen Car Ferries brochure from that very first season, printed before the ships were even delivered.


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