Cherbourg’s passenger terminal in 1933
A new terminal building of monumental proportions
Cherbourg’s new terminal building was of much grander proportions. Inaugurated on July 30th 1933 by the President of the Republic Albert Lebrun, the Transatlantic passenger terminal was hailed as the most splendid in the world by national and international press at the time. It is true to say that the edifice is an imposing structure and at the time when it was built, it represented one of the biggest construction projects in France!
Cherbourg’s passenger terminal was a real example of logistical excellence before the Second World War. The transatlantic terminal and a train terminal were both housed in this immense building 280 metres long and 100 m wide.
An ideal passenger terminal for transatlantic crossings
The newly built Quai de France could accommodate two cruise ships simultaneously, representing a great advantage for the transatlantic maritime companies. This huge quay measuring 620 m was built on land reclaimed from the sea and created a deep water port Cherbourg with easy access at any tide level.
A modern passenger terminal for Cherbourg
Access by train was also made easier. Up to seven trains a day could run to or from Paris, putting Paris-St-Lazare at just 3 hours 15 minutes from Cherbourg. This meant that just an hour after disembarkation, first class passengers were able to catch a train and head off to any of the main European capitals!
Grand salons with lustrous glass roofing and stone balustrades were created within the buildings which were dominated by eleven towers and a 67 m bell tower. The building’s architect René Levavasseur, took inspiration from the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art, designing an Art déco style creation with simple elegance and strict geometrical lines.
Marc Simon designed the interior decoration of Cherbourg’s passenger terminal. The exotic wood panelling, mosaic and elegant lighting used stand as a tribute to the great ships of the era. He went on shortly after to create the interior fittings for the cruise liner Normandie.