the Transports Citroën network based on Caen in the 1930s

  le réseau Citroën basé sur Caen dans les années 30


cover of 1935 Rapides timetable

The Rapides name became well known in many parts of France in the 1930s. Transports Citroën - Réseau de Caen was established in October 1932. This was very quickly renamed Rapides de Normandie - Cars Citroën. It was a commercial competitive operation promoted by bus and car manufacturer Citroen and it was to last for only a few years in consequence of the rationalisation procedures brought in by legislation at this time. The operation passed under the control of the SGTD in 1936 and was merged into Les Courriers Normands in January 1937. (SGTD - Société Générale des Transports Départementaux - was a substantial provincial bus operator across France and already had a presence in 17 départements by 1929 and in 25 départements by 1945).

The port town of Cherbourg was served by three of the Rapides de Normandie routes, two from Caen (one via Carentan and the other via Saint-Lô), the third from Granville via Coutances. These routes through the Cotentin peninsula in the department of Manche were withdrawn by Rapides de Normandie after operation on Sunday 29th July 1934 as an early consequence of the co-ordination legislation for road and rail. Their routes netween Caen and Saint-Lô passed to Courriers Normands of Caen, whilst the route from Saintt-Lô to Cherbourg via Carentan and Valognes passed jointly to SGTD and SCF; on the other route, from Saint-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 after a few years to school and college journeys only as the departmental subsidy was reduced. This was eventually revived in recent years under the modern day manéo network in Manche, now part of the regional Nomad operation.

Representative timetable examples from the 1930s operations of Rapides de Normandie are given below.

withdrawal notice 1934

Le nom "Rapides" allait devenir bien connue dans de nombreuses régions de France. Il semble avoir eu ses origines dans l'évolution de certains des réseaux de Transports Citroën des années 1930.  Ici nous parlons de reseau Bas-Normand de Caen, avec lignes touchant Cherbourg à l'ouest et Rouen à l'est. Fondée en 1932, une certaine réduction a eu lieu en 1934 avec la législation de coordination de transports, et après l'acquisition par la SGTD l'entreprise Rapides de Normandie a été fusionnée avec les Les Courriers Normands en 1937.

Pages from a 1934 timetable booklet for Rapides de Normandie

1934 map of Rapides de Normandie routes
list of routes from 1934 timetable
cover of 1934 timetable booklet

Newspaper from Valognes 2nd June 1934 with transport timings given front page prominence

newspaper front page Valognes (June 1934)

May 1934 timetables for the Granville - Caen and Vire - Caen routes

May 1934 timetable Rapides de Normandie Granville Caen
May 1934 timetable Rapides de Normandie Caen Granville
May 1934 Rapides de Normandie timetable Caen Vire
May 1934 Rapides de Normandie timetable St Sever Vire Caen

Follow these links for more information about

Rapides de Touraine

Rapides de Poitou

Rapides de Bourgogne

Follow these links for more information about

Rapides de Lorraine

Rapides de Champagne

Buses in the Manche department in 1934

We would be pleased to learn more about these operators 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 ces autocaristes, je leur en serais reconnaissant!

With grateful acknowledgement to the researches and collections of John Carman, Malcolm Chase, James Bunting and Clive D'eath

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