The Ile de France and the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel
High Style on the High Seas
When the luxury liner Ile de France sailed into New York harbor for the first time in 1927, she brought to America the first great, coordinated example of what the French then called L'Art Moderne. The revolutionary Art Deco interiors found on the Ile de France were unlike anything previously seen on the North Atlantic and set a standard in ocean liner décor for decades to come. Her glittering passenger lists of the 1920s and 1930s were the envy of other shipping lines: Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson, John D. Rockefeller, Buster Keaton, Barbara Hutton, Maurice Chevalier, Will Rogers, Cary Grant, Marie Curie and Arturo Toscanini were but a few of the luminaries that graced its salons. The Ile de France served heroically in World War II as a troopship, and in peacetime came to the rescue of other ships nine times during her career, most notably when she rescued more than 700 survivors from the stricken Andrea Doria following its collision with the Stockholm in 1956. In a last gasp of immortality, the Ile de France appeared in the epic disaster film The Last Voyage standing in for a fictional, stricken liner. Forgetting her ignoble end, the Ile deFrance is still held in awe and reverence both in her native France and by the maritime community worldwide. Although neither the fastest nor the largest liner of her time, one writer said of the Ile de France, “She was handsome without being grand, comfortable without being overstuffed, class-conscious without living by exclusions.” The penchant the Ile de France had for attracting the famous, the talented, the youthful, along with her special chic and verve ensured her place in the pantheon of immortal Atlantic liners.