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Means of transport - Expo Paris 1925

Missing picture

The transport galleries run along the Quai d'Orsay, between the Pont de l'Alma and the Pont des Invalides.

The main interest of these galleries is concentrated on an entire train which is exhibited on a real stretch of railway track, in a bowl one hundred and fifty metres long.

But this is no ordinary train; the wagons have been fitted out in a new and original way. Thus we reproduce above a smoking car which does not yield in any way, in terms of comfort, to the most luxurious American cars.

Luxury does not, however, exclude all artistic concern. The wagon shown here is the work of one of our best decorators, Francis Jourdain, who was not content to be an artist here; his wagon is, in fact, admirably designed from the practical point of view.

Science et la Vie - 1925

On the left bank of the Seine there is a series of brightly coloured barracks stretching from the Pont des Invalides to the Pont de l'Alma, housing the so-called transport class. There are wagons from the various railway companies, car bodies and liner fittings. It is only regrettable that the promise to show us yachts on the Seine, in the neighbouring basin, was not kept. There can be no question of regionalism here. Just as a telephone exchange, a post office and telegraph office, an electric transformer, a bungalow, a car, an ocean liner are of an era, not of a country.
Perhaps there is a regionalism in cars, and it would be easy for us to name a certain make which, manufactured in the South-East of France, is more particularly suited to the Alpine route. As for sailing ships, all those who have travelled the Mediterranean know that the shape of their ships and sails depends on the prevailing winds in a given maritime area and that they have different names in different cases. The question does not arise for the railway, where the engineer gives the architect a wonderful lesson in logic.

L'Illustration has several times pointed out the interest of the recent installations of the Compagnie du Nord, its new stations, its new workshops, its new garden cities. Here is its new carriage. In the old ones, a matchbox, the coffin, according to the terribly picturesque expression of the railwaymen, was placed on an iron frame. If the car was hit, the frame resisted the violent pressure; but the wooden compartments shattered, injuring the passengers with their splinters, catching fire. In the new one, the compartment walls are made of steel sheet, which is one with the frame. The narrow shape of the windows, which could be criticised, comes from the fact that it is a third-class carriage for an omnibus train; it must, therefore, be fitted with one door per compartment to facilitate the boarding and alighting of passengers at each station, hence the impossibility of having wide windows which would be possible in a fast train carriage, fitted with a door at each end of the corridor.

The P.-L.-M. Company, like that of the State and that of the Wagons-Lits, preoccupied, no doubt, with improvements or technical refinements, do not seem to have bothered with any effort at new presentation and have not gone to great lengths to show us anything new here. The state network, however, shows us a commuter car of excellent layout.

The success goes to the Orleans Company, which exhibits an admirable car. It had two first class compartments, identical to those on the network, but also a smoking room designed by Francis Jourdain and a ladies' lounge installed by Maurice Dufrène. It is accessible at no extra cost with a first class ticket. The ladies' lounge, with its grey sycamore woodwork, framed in amaranth, its maple ceiling and its toilet with its many mirrors, will appeal to female travellers. As for the smoking room, with its Indochinese wood panelling, white maple ceiling and leather armchairs, it gives an impression of strong, masculine elegance. Game tables, a loudspeaker, and well-arranged light fixtures, except for the overly angular table lamps, complete the picture of a caring art. An ingenious device, of Road Index, by means of a strip of paper which unrolls with the train, informs the travellers about the region they are passing through and about the remarkable points of the landscape.

The design of a cabin in a liner is a similar problem. Some of our decorators have solved it, René Prou among the first. We saw him at work on the liner De-Grasse, belonging to the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. The same company is currently working on a 44,000 ton ship (11,000 tons more than the Paris) which will be put into service in two years on the Le Havre to New York line. In the transport gallery, she exhibits some of the flats of this new ship. With the exception of a few errors, one can sense a long experience of these matters which require from the person who deals with them more personality and confidence than the traditional and relatively easy knowledge of old styles. Not just anyone can be modern, and it requires, as with the rest, a long and delicate preparation. The Compagnie des Messageries maritimes, in the luxury flat it is preparing for the Mariette-Pacha, in service on the Echelles du Levant line, does not show the same security. Let's take into account its adhesion.

©L'Illustration - 1925