ON BOARD FIESTA IN THE MID-1990s
& AS SEAFRANCE CÉZANNE
3: RO-RO LOUNGE, SIDE LOUNGE & GALAXY/PARISIEN CAFÉ
All pictures © matt@hhvferry.com except where stated
e-mail: matt@hhvferry.com
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Above: The entrance to the upper level (Deck 4) of 'La Brasserie' in 2001, looking forward. Whilst the lower level has symmetrical entrances on either beam, to port on this deck is a crew mess, so this is the only access point. According to the sign, a private party is using the mezzanine; however it remained empty throughout the crossing, the curved staircase within the lounge also being roped off.
Of note here is the carpet - it features a stylised 'S' pattern and the design is called 'Stena' in the carpet manufacturer's brochure. Evidence of variants of this carpet is a sure sign that a ship has been involved somehow with Stena during the mid/late 1990s - Seafrance actually appear to have continued fitting it after the split with their former partners to retain consistency of design within ships and across the fleet. The area pictured received attention during the Winter 2002/2003 refit - this small starboard side area was appropriated as an adjunct to the ro-ro lounge, whilst at the same time the public toilets (to the left) were knocked through to the ro-ro shower rooms adjacent. At the same stage, the entire 'La Brasserie' lounge and restaurant was recarpetted.
Above & below: Just aft of the upper level of the forward lounge on the starboard side is the ro-ro drivers' lounge and restaurant, seen here on the Seafrance Cézanne in 2003. The overall view looking aft (above) shows that this has received new seating since the Fiesta days but it is otherwise largely unchanged. The framed cartoons which grace the lounge's walls are original: in Designing Ships for Sealink, Sealink's naval architects Don Ripley and Tony Rogan describe how a lorry driver cartoon was casually shown to Warren Platner during the course of the preparation of the interior designs and it was this which inspired the addition of these to the decor of this lounge.
Above & below: After the formation of Seafrance in 1996, the Privilège brand was dropped and the lounge became instead the 'Petit Salon Cézanne'. It retained its decor and layout from its previous incarnation for its new role which was mostly as a crew meeting room, not being generally open for passenger use. The pictures show (above) the small conference room at the forward end and (below) a remaining general seating area just aft. The latter links into the aft upper lobby via a small flight of stairs.
Above & below: After the introduction of Business Class on the Stena Fantasia in her 1991 Gothenburg refit, this new brand of executive lounges was rolled out across the British fleet in subsequent years. The French SNAT ships were obliged to follow and, as on the 'Fantasia', the Fiesta's small quiet lounge, just aft of the ro-ro restaurant, was refitted for this purpose, being split into two with a lounge area aft and a small conference room forward. Rather than adopt the Business Class brand however, on the Fiesta and Côte d'Azur the lounges received instead the Privilège name. (Picture courtesy Guy Blanchout)
Above: Although it had been fitted out to relatively high standards, the Rock Box Disco on Deck 4 was never intended as a long-term solution for the dome. After a couple of years service, it was taken out of use on Fantasia after her extensive refit of 1992/93. The equivalent on Fiesta remained in use throughout 1993 however, and by the subsequent winter's refits a decision had been made on finally utilising the largely dormant space directly beneath the dome. The area was comprehensively rebuilt with the space on Deck 4 forward of the upper lobby where the Rock Box had previously been becoming a video games area. From the centre of this now rose a stairway up to a new passenger lounge which had been built on the level above - space previously concealed by the false ceiling in the disco and directly beneath the dome.

This was the Galaxy Bar, a name previously used for the aft bar on Dover-Calais fleetmate
Stena Invicta which entered service in 1991, and a first example of a brand effectively 'jumping fleets' from the UK Sealink/Stena ships to the French SNAT ones - Globetrotter would follow. The name was entirely appropriate however and for the new role the dome was completely exposed internally. Large floor-to-ceiling passenger windows, in keeping with the rest of the accommodation, were fitted and the area became the best observation lounge on the Channel, and a worthy addition to Fiesta's burgeoning array of unique passenger spaces. Petite free-standing tables and chairs encircled the outside of the circular lounge, with more substantial armchairs in the central section. A bar servery fronted the forward wall, facing aft, complete with bar stools whilst the stairwell from the video games area below emerged into the centre of the room. Crowning it all, and looking down from the very apex of the dome, was a metal golden blazing sun insignia, fitting in with the Galaxy Bar theme. (Picture courtesy Guy Blanchout)
Above: Part of the new bar, with small tables and chairs fitted around the circumference of what was a perfectly circular space beneath the dome. The area remained the Galaxy Bar through 1994 and 1995, whereupon the split with Stena Line and the demise of the Sealink pool created Seafrance. The new independent company renamed this area the Parisien Café, but there was little substantial change to what was still a relatively new lounge, the main improvements being the addition of black and white pictures of French movie stars and Parisien Metro station nameboards featuring a variety of locations which appeared beneath the base of the dome.
"Le Café Parisien - An ambassador for French traditions.
You could be forgiven for thinking you are at a Parisian sidewalk cafe, with photos of famous French actors, but with a panoramic view of the sea. Here you can enjoy a genuine croissant and coffee or delicious French pastries. Or why not introduce British friends to a typically French baguette with a glass of wine or beer?"
(Seafrance Horizons Magazine No 4)
Above: An official Seafrance scene showing the central part of the Parisien Café looking forward/across to starboard, the bar servery being on the forward wall and facing aft. A couple of happy-looking passengers are emerging from the staircase up from the upper lobby and the video games area on the deck below - doubtless they are merely relieved to have escaped the rowdy groups of schoolchildren who tend to congregate in the latter.
Above & below: The winter 2003 refit was the most substantial for the Parisien Café since 1996, and saw the central seating re-upholstered in cream whilst new chairs replaced some of the smaller ones located mainly around the outside of the lounge area. These views also show the extended light fittings protruding some way inwards from the base of the dome, a legacy from the Galaxy Bar days when they were installed to compensate for the lack of any other direct light source underneath the dome itself.
Above & below: Another legacy from the Galaxy Bar era still present in the Parisien Café is the golden blazing sun motif on the inside of the dome at its apex (above). Meanwhile for a brief period in 2004 it was possible once again to see the Sealink brand name (below) in this lounge when the later Seafrance signage which had previously covered it up was removed.
Below: In recent years it has become standard Seafrance practice to close the Parisien Cafés on all ships during quieter off-peak periods. (Left) This is the scene on one such occasion with the gates closed and padlocked; the neon Le Parisien logo visible sits high above the bar servery just beneath the roof of the dome, the curve of the ceiling being clear. This view was taken from the base of the staircase seen in the picture of the Video Games area on the deck below (right). To the left in this picture is the exit to the upper lobby, whilst the games arcade itself wraps right around the staircase to the right. Of passing interest, again indicating the previous Stena influence on SNAT, is the neon in the background, amongst and above the arcade games, identical to the equivalent area on Stena Fantasia as well as a variety of other Stena ships from the mid-1990s.
Below: A further view of part of the doughnut-shaped video games area on Seafrance Cézanne.
Above: Another view of the new area's bar counter. (Picture courtesy M Fournet)
Below: The same space during the mid-1990s on board the Fiesta. (Picture courtesy M Fournet)