BUS  SERVICES  IN  COTENTIN  IN  1934

A look back at the comprehensive network of country buses that existed in the mid 1930s

 

During the early and mid 1930s a considerable network of country and interurban bus routes operated in the Cotentin area of  the Manche département.  This was prior to the government's co-ordination and control of bus services in 1935, aimed at eliminating wasteful competition between operators which had sprung up in many places.  Sometimes this included a commercial operation in competition with a subsidised service contracted by the département.  The départemental subsidies were underwritten in part by the national government who after the end of the First World War encouraged the introduction of départemental networks as a way of completing a useful transport facility at a time when many railways had become too expensive and uneconomical both to build and to operate.  Further consideration to reduce direct competition between bus and train was implemented prior to the nationalisation of the regional railway companies in 1938 to form SNCF.  The outbreak of war in 1939 and the occupation of France had consequences for bus operation through shortage of materials and fuel.

Les Rapides de Normandie was a commercial competitive operation promoted by bus and car manufacturer Citroen in 1932 which lasted for only a few years in consequence of the rationalisation procedures mentioned above.  It became one of the three companies that came together in Caen (Calvados) in 1937 to establish Les Courriers Normands (now Bus Verts of Calvados since 1981).  SGTD was the Société Générale des Transports Départementaux, a national company, founded in 1919, with regional operations in many French départements, often using the Courriers trading name (as in Courriers Normands).  SATOS was the associated bus company of the regional rail company (Société Auxiliaire des Transports Automobiles de l'Ouest et du Sud-Ouest).  Société Centrale de Chemins de Fer et d'Entreprises (SCF) and Chemins de Fer Normands (CFN) were Verney group companies which would later be reorganised locally as the modern day bus operator in the Manche département, Société des Transports de Normandie (STN).

Present day interurban and rural bus services are but a shadow of the services of seventy years ago, although we should not judge operations in France by English standards alone given a range of differences in operating circumstances and travel needs. In many towns and cities an adequate daytime service has been maintained throughout the years, often supported by the relevant local authority. But with the advent of the 21st century interurban services have undergone a renaissance in many areas with new départemental networks. Thus in the département of Manche a new network of interurban routes and supporting local services named Manéo was introduced in 2007.    

The information in the tables that follow is taken from the Indicateur Nationale du Tourisme Quillet of August 1934. It was already a little out of date when published as the Rapides de Normandie withdrew their routes in Manche and Cotentin after operation on Sunday 29th July 1934. The co-ordination legislation for road and rail saw their routes netween Caen and St-Lô pass to Courriers Normands of Caen, whilst the route from St-Lô to Cherbourg via Carentan and Valognes passed jointly to SGTD and SCF; for the other route, from St-Lô to Cherbourg via Coutances and Bricquebec, buses were to disappear from the middle section between Coutances and Bricquebec for many years until the closure of the parallel Coutances - Cherbourg rail line to passengers in 1970. There then followed a rail replacement bus service which declined over the years to school and college journeys only.

 






Line Via Length of journey Operator Quillet timetable August 1934
Caen - Cherbourg Tilly-s-Seules or Bayeux, then St-Lô, Carentan, Montebourg, Valognes   4 hours Les Rapides de Normandie (Caen)
Caen - Cherbourg Tilly-s-Seules, St-Lô, Coutances, Periers, Lessay, La Haye des Puits, Bricquebec   4 hours 30 minutes Les Rapides de Normandie (Caen)
Caen - Granville Tilly-s-Seules, St-Lô, Coutances   3 hours 15 minutes Les Rapides de Normandie (Caen)
bus stop sign Rapides de Normandie

 

 

  Rapides de Normandie

  bus stop sign

other routes included Caen-Le Havre;  Caen-Rouen; Lisieux-Le Havre; Lisieux-Le Mans.
                              Les Rapides de Normandie, Place du Théatre, Caen.

 

Line Via Length of journey   Operator  
Valognes - Cherbourg Montebourg, St Vaast-la-Hougue, Barfleur   2 hours 25 minutes   Chemins de Fer Normands (SATOS), Granville
Granville - Avranches   via Sartilly or via St Pair, Carolles, St Jean le Thomas  40 minutes or 1 hour 30   Chemins de Fer Normands (SATOS), Granville
Granville - Coutances   Bréhal, Hauteville-s-Mer   1 hour   Chemins de Fer Normands (SATOS), Granville
Coutances - Lessay   Coutainville, Pirou   1 hour 25 minutes   Chemins de Fer Normands (SATOS), Granville

Sourdeval - Avranches   Brecey   1 hour 40 minutes   Chemins de Fer Normands (SATOS), Granville

Mont St Michel - Pontorson   Beauvoir    20 minutes   Chemins de Fer Normands (SATOS), Granville

Cherbourg - St-Lô   Valognes, Montebourg, Carentan    2 hours 10 minutes   Société Centrale de Chemins de Fer et d'Entreprises (SATOS), Paris

Cherbourg - Villedieu   Bricquebec, Coutances    4 hours   SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)

Cherbourg - Auderville   Urville, Beaumont-Hague   1 hour 10 minutes   SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)

Valognes - Carteret   Bricquebec   1 hour 10 minutes   SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)

Pont l'Abbé - Ste Mère Eglise   Chef du Pont   30 minutes   SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)

St Hilaire du Harcouet - Villedieu   Brécey   1 hour 40 minutes   SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)

Mortain - Villedieu   St Pois   1 hour 35 minutes   SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)

Avranches - St-Lô   Villedieu, Percy   2 hours   SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)

Periers - St-Lô   Le Mesnil-Vigot   1 hour   SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)

Villedieu - Vire

Villedieu - Coutances

Villedieu - Mesnil Garnier

  St Sever (Friday market service to Vire)

  (Monday and Thursday market service to Coutances)

  (Tuesday market circular service to Villedieu)

    SGTD - Transports Départementaux de la Manche (Cherbourg)


St-Lô - Vire


  Torigni-sur-Vire

   1 hour 15 minutes


Entreprise Raymond Lucas, St-Lô



Cherbourg - Barfleur


  Tourlaville, St-Pierre, Tocqueville

   55 minutes


Entreprise R Lerouvreur, Barfleur



Cherbourg - Cosqueville


  Tourlaville, St-Pierre

  1 hour


Entreprise G Laisné, St-Pierre Eglise


Cherbourg - Dielette   Les Pieux, Flamanville   1 hour 5 minutes   Entreprise E. Schmidt, Cherbourg

Cherbourg - Portbail   Les Pieux, Carteret, Barneville-sur-Mer   1 hour 40 minutes   Entreprise E. Schmidt, Cherbourg

To complete the picture we must remember that in 1934 several of the local railways were still in operation  -

Cherbourg - Barfleur - Valognes; Sourdeval - Granville; Granville - Cérences; Pontorson - Mont Saint Michel

autocar francais 1934

 

I would be very pleased to learn more about these routes if any French readers of this page have further information !

Si les lecteurs français de cette page pouvaient m'apporter des informations complémentaires, je leur en serais reconnaisant!

 

Follow this link to Buses of Cotentin 2004  -  later country bus routes in the département of Manche

 

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