A new mezzanine allows the story of the saga of liners to be told on around fifty square meters, from their origins as liner ships carrying both freight and passengers to today's floating cities, exclusively for cruise enthusiasts. Thanks to a virtual reality headset, we visit the Paraguay, a sail and steam vessel launched in 1888 and which sailed on the Atlantic from Le Havre to Buenos Aires. “We chose him because we have here, in a display case, his painting as well as his splendid model. It has no hull on the port side and we can therefore see its entire interior, which made it possible to carry out this simulation,” explains research manager Gabriel Courgeon.
At her side, model curator and restorer Élise Bachelet details the other scale models on display, a small selection from the 80 liner models in her collection. From that of the Colomba, released in 1878 from the Glasgow shipyards, to that of the gigantic Wonder of the Seas of 2022. Of course including that of the France (manufactured, then donated by an anonymous person). Or even that of the Silenseas, a smaller but more ecological project, because this prototype should soon confirm the return of the sail on this type of ship.
Between them, plans, photos, films, extracts read by actors from press cuttings (reports signed Colette and Blaise Cendrars). And still various objects, some of which are relics. Such as those of France: deckchairs, ashtrays and uniforms from the boy to the bellhop to the nurses' blouses.
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The crockery displayed is that of the first class of the Normandie (1935, and from the outset blue ribbon for the speed record). There is the breakfast service, the lunch service, a third for the snack and finally the dinner cutlery. Lalique and Daum sit alongside textiles designed by Dufy and Art Deco panels after Jean Dupas. These pieces escaped the 1942 fire in New York. The only thing missing from the tablecloths are the water glasses. But no doubt they were of little use when fine wines and champagne were flowing freely. Certainly, American customers found here something to escape prohibition.
On the wall, on the facsimile of a longitudinal section signed Albert Sébille, are shown down to the smallest parts of this modern palace. Where we see that the passengers had a cinema, a chapel, a swimming pool, a flower shop, a hairdressing salon, a fencing room. The children had a puppet. On the lower decks there was a car garage and another for airplanes. As for the fake chimney - the second of the three, built to look more beautiful - it housed a kennel.