French Lines
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MAJOR DATES IN THE HISTORY OF THE COMPAGNIE DES MESSAGERIES MARITIMES

1851 : Creation of the Compagnie des Services Maritimes des Messageries Nationales, issued from the Messageries Nationales. This company specialised in stagecoach transport from 1796.
The covenant with the State allowed for the exploitation of 4 lines : Italy, Levant, Egypt, and Greece.
The Hellespont was the first of the company's vessels to leave Marseille.
Purchase of the La Ciotat shipbuilding yards.

1853 : Change of name to the Compagnie des Messageries Impériales.

1854 : Concession of the postal lines over Algeria and Tunisia followed by an expansion over the Black Sea.

poster by Sandy Hook1857 : Concession of South American postal services.

1862 : Progressive implementation of the Far East service, as far as Japan in 1865.
An annexe line serves the Indian Ocean for the Islands of Reunion and Mauritius.

1869 : Inauguration of the Suez Canal. This new route considerably reduced the distances and reinforced the growth of exchanges.

1871 : Change of name to the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes.
Abandon of the North African lines in favour of the Compagnie Valéry then the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique in 1880.

1882 : Service to Australia followed by New Caledonia then the New Hebrides.

A. Schindeler poster1914-1918 : Transformation of ships into hospital ships or as troopships. At the end of the war 22 ships have been lost which is about a third of the fleet.

1919 : Inauguration of the Round-the-world line by El Kantara, first French ship to cross the Panama Canal.

1923 : Presence of the André Lebon in Yokohama at the time of the earthquake. The ship took aboard 1500 refugees including the French ambassador Paul Claudel.

Années 1920-1930: Period of technical progress in particular with the introduction of oil fired heating on the Angkor in 1921. Luxurious decoration perfectly illustrated by the liners, Mariette Pacha and Félix Roussel

1932 : Fire on board Georges Philippar.

Second World War : Fleet requisitioned. Half of the ships are lost.

1949 : The La Marseillaise is brought into service on the Far East line, first ship in the rebuilding of the fleet.

1962 : The South American line is assured by the recovery of old liners from the Chargeurs Réunis : Laennec, Charles Tellier and Louis Lumière.

1966 : Launching of Pasteur, the company's last liner.

1977 : Merging of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and of the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes that officially took place on February 23rd. The new company took the name of the Compagnie Générale Maritime.


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