Built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, launched on May 11, 1960, the liner France was built in four years by 1,300 technicians and engineers. Tricolor symbol, this ship was “A concentrate of the best of the technologies of its time”, highlights this documentary by Caroline Hocquard, directed by Olivier Hennegrave. With its 316 meters long, operated by the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT), it is intended for the connection between New York and Le Havre, which it achieves in five days with 2,000 passengers on board, before the development of the ‘aviation.
A popular craze from Le Havre to New York
When, on February 8, 1962, the ship arrived in New York, it was greeted by a maritime parade which accompanied it to its quay, number 88, initially fitted out for the Normandy, destroyed by fire in 1942. Tugs, pump boats, helicopters, planes… are part of the party, followed by several thousand people gathered on the banks of the Hudson. A similar popular enthusiasm manifested itself at the start with around 100,000 spectators, some of whom went to Le Havre by specially chartered trains.
Profitability will never be there
The maritime adventure of France began with an inaugural one-week cruise, in the presence of several personalities, including his “godmother”, Yvonne de Gaulle, wife of the President of the Republic, or the singer Tino Rossi. But, with a few exceptions, the CGT reserves the ship to its regular line, knowing that profitability will never be there and that a State subsidy will always be necessary. In 1974, President Giscard d’Estaing and his Prime Minister Jacques Chirac decided to stop financial aid.
The France was then quickly disarmed, despite the strikes on board with occupation of the ship, and the demonstrations that developed to demand its survival. The liner then lives its agony, transformed into a cruise ship under the name of Norway, before the final act, in 2006 in India, in a shipyard for the demolition of sea giants.