A major Bretagne bus, coach and haulage operator of yesteryear

Nota  -  Il s'agit d'un site d'archives historiques et ne contient pas de données actuelles

Pour les informations actuelles et les horaires de bus dans la Loire Atlantique visitez le site departemental

For current information and bus timetables in Loire Atlantique visit the departmental website

Claude Drouin started in 1912 with a lorry and later added his first proper coach in 1922.  Later a company was founded at Nantes in 1928 -  Drouin Frères (Drouin Brothers) - and the business served the Loire Valley and the west of France for many years.  The operations included both passengers and freight and their buses and lorries contributed to the economic life of the area.  This was a family company built up over the years with routes stretching from Nantes as far as Laval, Rennes, Vannes and Quiberon. The headquarters were in the rue de Rennes at Nantes and there were branch offices at Chateaubriant, La Baule and St Nazaire. The August 1934 edition of the Indicateur Quillet listed these routes:
Claude Drouin a commencé en 1912 avec un camion, puis il a ajouté son premier autocar en 1922. Ensuite, la société a été fondée à Nantes en 1928 - Drouin Frères - et l'entreprise desservait le Val de Loire et l'ouest de la France depuis nombreuses années. Les opérations comprenaient à la fois les passagers et les marchandises et les autobus et les camions contribuaient à la vie économique de la région. C'était une entreprise familiale construite au fil des ans avec des parcours allant de Nantes aussi loin que Laval, Rennes, Vannes et Quiberon. Le siège se trouvait dans la rue de Rennes à Nantes et il y avait des bureaux à Chateaubriant, La Baule et St Nazaire. L'édition août 1934 de l'Indicateur Quillet a énuméré ces routes:

Nantes - Rennes
Nantes - Lorient
Nantes - Le Loroux - Bottereau
Nantes - Vallet
Nantes - Laval
Nantes - Le Croisic
     (co-ordinated timetable with Transports Citroën)
Nantes - Vitre
Nantes - Chateau Gontier  -Sable-s-Sarthe
Chateaubriant - Le Croisic
Nantes - Chateaubriant (par Riaillé)
St Nazaire - Piriac
St Nazaire - La Roche-Bernard
Vannes - Quiberon
Nantes - St Sebastien
Nantes - Haute-Goulaine

Nantes timetable 1939
A map of the Drouin routes in 1939,
taken from the Indicateur Général de la Région Nantaise

1939 map drouin routes

excursion leaflet

La Baule bus station gare routiere

The Drouin bus station in La Baule, built in 1934 to the design of the architect Georges Meunier. The painter Emile Guillaume decorated the circular wall of the passenger hall. The building was located on the corner of avenue Georges Clemenceau and place de la Victoire. It included a large bus garage on the west facade and offices on the ground floor and an upstairs apartment on the south facade. The large balcony outside of the apartment served as a canopy sheltering the entrance. The building, at 4 place de la Victoire, having served Cariane and Keolis Atlantique in later years, was recently demolished for apartments to be built on the site.

La gare routi
ère des Transports Drouin à La Baule, construit en 1934 à la conception de l'architecte Georges Meunier. Le peintre Emile Guillaume a décoré la mur circulaire de la salle des voyageur. Le bâtiment a été situé à l'angle de l'avenue Georges Clemenceau et la place de la Victoire. Il comprenait un garage de bus sur la façade ouest et des bureaux au rez de chaussée avec un appartement à l'étage sur la façade sud. Le grand balcon à l'extérieur de l'appartement a servi comme auvent abritant l'entrée. Le bâtiment (4 place de la Victoire) a  été démoli récemment pour construire des appartements sur le site.

A somewhat unique summer only tourist route was operated between La Baule and Geneva in Switzerland from 1955 to 1968. Running along the valley of the Loire with its chateaux, this was a journey lasting two days with an overnight stop at Nevers eastbound or Bourges westbound. Typically there were two or three departures per week in each direction. One and a half deck vehicles called "Belvédère"were a feature of the service.

Un itinéraire touristique estivale en quelque sorte unique a été assuré entre La Baule et Genève en Suisse de 1955 à 1968. Longeant la vallée de la Loire avec ses châteaux, ce fut un voyage de deux jours avec un arrêt pour la nuit à Nevers en direction est ou vers l'ouest à Bourges. D'habitude il y avait deux ou trois départs par semaine dans chaque direction.

Map and list of Drouin routes from 1961 'Indicateur Nantais'

Plan et liste des lignes Drouin contenu dans l'Indicateur Nantais 1961
plan Drouin 1961 lignes routes

list of routes 1961 lignes
cover of 1961 Indicateur Nantais

Later bus route information comes from a Drouin poster timetable from summer 1970, showing also the route letters allocated:
Les lignes de l'été 1970, venant d'un affiche-horaires Drouin, montrant également les lettres attribué aux lignes:

A     Nantes - Rennes
B     Nantes - Vannes
BA  Vannes - Quiberon
B1   Vannes - Lorient
B2   Vannes - Larmor-Baden
C     Nantes - Thouare - Le Loroux Bottereau
D     Nantes - Vallet - Mouzillon
F     Nantes - Saint Sebastien - Haute-Goulaine
F1   Nantes - Vertou Gare - Saint Sebastien
P     Nantes - Vertou - Chateau Thebaud
H    Nantes - St Nazaire  - Le Croisic
HA   St Nazaire - Piriac
HB   St Nazaire -  La Rocche-Bernard
HD  Guemene-Penfao - St Gildas des Bois
HM  La Baule - Asserac

G      Nantes - Chateaubriant - Laval
GA   Chateaubriant - Bain-de-Bretagne
GE   Chateaubriant - Abbaretz - Puceul - Nantes
L      Nantes - St Julien de Vouvantes - Chateaubriant
AGH  Rennes - Le Croisic
N     St Nazaire - Le Croisic
K     Nantes - Segre - Chateau-Gontier
J      Nantes - Chateaubriant - Vitré
O    Nantes - Rocheserviere
R     Redon - Blain - Nantes (par Plesse)
M    Nantes - Lege
S     Redon - Besle - Nantes
HC  Redon - St Nazaire - Le Croisic
G5   Redon - Guémené - Penfao - Chateaubriant
GH  Chateaubriant - Le Croisic

The private company traded as Drouin Freres until the late sixties, and then in 1968 a new public company was established, Compagnie Française des Transports Drouin.  This continued the Transports Drouin branding with a TD logo.  The bus and coach activities were put into a dedicated company in 1975: TTO (Transports et Tourisme de  l' Ouest).  As well as their interurban and country routes until 1984 they ran the Sainte-Nazaire urban buses; and there had also been urban operational involvement in Nantes and Rennes. The TTO operations passed to Cariane in 1989, trading as Cariane Atlantique, from depots in Nantes, Chateaubriant, La Baule, Rennes, Laval and Vannes.  Cariane was a subsidiary of SCETA, which was the road transport subsidiary of SNCF French Railways.  

The Rennes depot was sold to TAE (Transport Armor Express).  This had been another important family business, Autocars de Saint-Henis in Rennes, until becoming TAE in 1981.  A few years later (mid 1990s) TAE was acquired in part by the Cariane group, believed to be at the time that the Ille-et-Vilaine part of the TTO operation passed to TAE.  The TAE trading name was kept by Cariane, and a full take over came subsequently.

When Cariane merged with VIA-GTI funded Keolis a third Brittany company appeared in the group : les Courriers Bretons (Saint Malo). The three companies kept their individual names until 2007 or 2008, when Keolis decided to trade using its own name. So now we have :

Keolis Atlantique (ex Cariane Atlantique)
Keolis Armor (ex Transport Armor Express) including Transports Georges from Dinard
Keolis Emeraude (ex Courriers Bretons  -  in fact always part of the 'group' having been an SGTD company; SGTD became VIA, that became Keolis).

The Drouin family retained their extensive haulage and parcels interests until going into receivership in 1996 after six years of trading losses.  The freight operations then passed to Ziegler, the Belgian transport and warehousing group, which acquired 12 depots, 147 staff and the name of Transports Drouin.

Current day operations in the Nantes and La Baule area are provided through the buses of the departmental Lila network (Lignes de Loire-Atlantique), 47 regular services across the department of Loire-Atlantique with almost 4 million passenger journeys a year.
Exploitation au courant dans la région de Nantes et La Baule assurés par les bus du réseau Lila départementale (Lignes de Loire-Atlantique), 47 lignes régulières Lila quadrillent aujourd’hui la Loire-Atlantique et près de 4 millions de voyages sont réalisés chaque année.

From happier times Geoff Currie has provided some photographs from his visit to La Baule in 1968, when the Drouin buses were very much in business!
Drouin buses Three Drouin vehicles 1968

Drouin Saviem Drouin Saviem 1968

La Baule bus station La Baule bus station 1968

Along the sea front in La Baule in earlier days, a Chausson APH52 of Drouin      (picture from the TN4HABR collection of Jean-Paul Machuré)
a Drouin Chausson in La Baule

Drouin ticket A selection of Drouin tickets from the
collection of Geoff Currie
Drouin tickets parcel ticket / Drouin / billet colis
parcel ticket / colis par cars

timetable/horaire Nantes - Chateaubriant - Laval

=== with thanks to Gerard Delpeuch, James Bunting and John Carman for information about the later developments ===

We would be pleased to learn more about this operator if any French readers of this page have further information!

Si les lecteurs français de cette page pouvaient m’apporter des informations complémentaires à propos de cet autocariste, je leur en serais reconnaissant!

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