The famous liner Titanic sank on April 14, 1912 and carried with it the wonders and the symbol of the art of living of the late 19th century. The fashion at that time was to walk, to appear, to travel, to go to the New World, and these ships were designed to serve a privileged clientele. Everything is done to ensure that she has an unforgettable moment of relaxation ...
Luxury cabins and a moment of relaxation
On the Titanic, seven of the ten decks were designed to accommodate passengers. And for this privileged clientele, the liner offered cabins furnished in Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Italian Renaissance, Empire or Georgian style whose walls were covered with paneling of oak, walnut, mahogany or lemon tree and whose the crystal chandeliers powered by electricity illuminated the whole. You could admire sculptures, rechampis and gilding. The beds were four-poster covered with damask silk. We walked on carpeted floors or soft rugs. In order not to be cold, the central heating was on and the chimneys were roaring. These air-conditioned cabins had their own bathroom with hot water and a toilet. Modular, accommodating one to three people and convertible into an apartment, these cabins were located in the center of the liner, where the boat moved the least, for the comfort of passengers.
For their relaxation, guests bathed in a seawater swimming pool with diving board, accessed by a marble staircase, and could change into individual cabins. Men and women spent some time in the paid Turkish baths, but at different times. These baths were carefully decorated with lamps, tables, Turkish and Syrian divans, coffered ceilings. Some preferred a good massage; others took advantage of lessons from a gymnastics teacher, in a suitable room equipped with rowers, bicycles and weight machines. A squash court was also available, but for a fee.
For a makeover, the Titanic offered a hairdresser and barber shop as well as a souvenir shop selling toys, books, postcards, stationery.
At the end of the day, the men met in the smoking room, the Renaissance style of which was decorated with mahogany paneling and stained glass windows. During this time, the ladies (who were forbidden there) went to the reading room, equipped with sofas and tables for writing their correspondence.
Others settled in the reception rooms at the foot of the grand staircase, the floors of which were carpeted and white and gold walls. Admiring the columns, the moldings and the Aubusson tapestry representing "the hunt of the Duke of Guise" on one of the walls, they savored the tea, installed in the seats covered with red silk, listening to the quintet play from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Always with the aim of satisfying passengers and serving a privileged clientele, the Titanic offered a special à la carte restaurant called "the Ritz", a "Parisian" café and another "Veranda", which rivaled each other in refinement and delicacy, these dining rooms being reserved for First Classes.
The "Ritz" was placed under the fourth "decorative" chimney on deck B, aft of the liner. It was reserved for First Class passengers who wished to change traditional menus and be able to enjoy an à la carte service. Equipped with bay windows and lattice windows, draped in golden brown silk curtains, walnut woodwork, chandeliers and sconces in chiseled gilded brass, wooden columns twisted with bronze ribbons and armchairs covered with tapestry. Aubusson with a Louis XVI rose trellis motif, it offered forty-nine small tables for one hundred and thirty-seven passengers. These beautiful tables were covered with white tablecloths, embellished with bouquets of roses and daisies, provided with mood lighting achieved using crystal floor lamps topped with pink shades. This high-class restaurant had a 190-piece blue table service with a fine golden border resembling "Bleu de Sèvres" and a second white service, adorned with a gold border and a green Louis style garland. XVI. The rest was all silverware and crystal glassware.
The "Café Parisien and Café Véranda" were less stuffy and more convivial places where we met many young passengers who were adept at these places. The walls were covered with trellises (ivy and other climbers), the black and white checkered floor, the white lacquered rattan furniture, the large bay windows allowing a view of the sea, these places accommodating a maximum of 68 people.
A little less pretty, the First Class dining room was the largest ever built on a ship. Its 1,000 m2 could accommodate up to 550 passengers. The floor was tiled with blue linoleum with red and yellow patterns, the white dishes with a scalloped outline of green and brown.
As for the kitchens, they were grandiose and had, among other things, two stoves equipped with 19 ovens each, grills, rotisseries, bain-marie ...
Belly of the Titanic
On that grim day of April 14, 1912, to best serve these 2,200 or so passengers, no less than 885 crew were needed. Carrying with it the 5,892 tons of coal, the Titanic's "belly" also had water tanks designed to deliver 64,000 liters per day and 170 tons of mail. Indeed, besides transporting passengers, transporting mail was one of the liner's major missions. The total of miscellaneous freight and baggage amounted to 900 tonnes. It should be remembered that passengers often carried many trunks of clothes and toiletries like Mrs. Charlotte Drake and her 14 trunks, 4 suitcases and 3 crates: this was nothing exceptional!
To serve passengers, 21,000 pieces of cutlery, more than 3,000 dishes and tureens, 10,000 pieces of cookware, 6,500 serving tea towels, 45,000 napkins, 40,000 fresh eggs, 1,000 sweetbreads and other meats totaling 50 tonnes, 70 brands of champagne, 54 Bordeaux vintages, 850 bottles of alcohol were needed. And these are just a few small examples ...
Last meal at the Ritz on April 14, 1912
Under French influence (the hotel managers being French or having received training in France) and under the leadership of Auguste Escoffier and César Ritz, the Titanic offered the best in the best restaurants of Paris, London, New York. It was only delicate dishes including caviar, lobsters, Egyptian quail, lapwing eggs, in an eleven-course menu for First Classes.
“The last night we had dinner at the Ritz. It was the height of luxury. The tables were happily decorated with roses and daisies, the orchestra's violins played Puccini and Tchaikovsky; the dinner was sumptuous: caviar, lobsters, Egyptian quail, lapwing eggs, greenhouse grapes and fresh peaches, "said Ms. Walter Douglas, a First Class survivor.
The women donned their lovely satin and silk dresses, some wore their double-stranded pearl necklace (insured for $ 600,000 at the time), the immaculately dressed men dressed to the nines.
The menu was presented in eleven courses, with oysters, Olga consomme, poached salmon, filet mignon Lili… saddle of venison, woodcock… a punch on the sixth course, a foie gras on the ninth, coffees and cigars after this gargantuan meal representing the quintessence luxury …
Unusual curiosities declared
Lists of goods were drawn up (for reimbursements and insurance), declarations of losses, insurance taken before departure. We thus discover very heterogeneous objects, showing well the wealth of privileged travelers ... ranging from cases of sardines or shelled walnuts, barrels of tea, through bundles of gutta-percha (gum taken from the rubber tree used as insulation) or cases of rabbit skin or ostrich feathers up to those carrying opium, cases of alarm devices and an automobile case containing the Renault 1912; a marmalade machine, boxes of Egyptian works of art, a bag of diamonds worth $ 300 million, a bagpipe, an Arab costume and a French bulldog champion of competition as well as a mummy ...