Champs Elysées / Stena Parisien / Seafrance Manet

Here Champs Elysées is found berthed at Calais with her bow visor 'up and over'. One of her British counterparts, St. Christopher can just be seen astern of her.
Photo: Francois Dupiech.

This attractive modern ferry was delivered in 1984 as an improved version of her earlier half-sister, Côte d’Azur. Although designed within the same dimensions, she featured many modifications, most noticeably a slimmer funnel and larger panoramic windows at her forward end. She was christened Champs Elysées, in honour of the most famous street in Paris. The Calais Chamber of Commerce had lobbied for the ship to be named Côte d’Opale, but their hopes were dashed by advances from neighbouring Boulogne which had made the surprising coup of persuading S. N. C. F. to resurrect Sealink sailings from Dover. A new double deck berth was even provided, at considerable cost, to accommodate the new vessel in Boulogne.

She completed her maiden voyage between Dover and Calais, but she was unusually registered in Nantes, indicating that she was not intended for solely Calais service. From January 1985 she operated twice weekly crossings to Boulogne. Not surprisingly, such an irregular operation was soon deemed unviable and she switched to the Calais route full time later that year. In 1990 she stood down in favour of Fiesta, and was transferred to the Newhaven/Dieppe crossing where she became an instant hit with passengers. She was the largest vessel to ever serve the route. Although Stena Line took over the management in 1992 from S. N. A. T., the Champs Elysées retained her French flag and crew, but sadly lost her elegant French name in favour Stena Parisien. Note that French vessels are masculine rather than feminine, hence Parisien as opposed to Parisienne. Her charter to Stena Line ended in 1997 and the she was returned to the Dover/Calais run after seven years away. She was relaunched as Seafrance Manet in line with her owner's new name.

Seafrance Manet saw her last regular tourist service in 2005 and thereafter was used mainly as a freight-only vessel. April 2008 saw her finally retired from the fleet and she spent a considerable period idle in Calais before being moved to lay-up at Dunkerque and await sale. It was not until July 2009 that none other than Stena Line decided to purchase the vessel they had previously got to know so well during the early 1990s. She received a complete refurbishment of her accommodation to a very attractive standard and was placed on the Stranraer/Belfast service in November of that year. She currently sails under the name Stena Navigator and her new owners and said to be very pleased with their acquisition.

M. S. Champs Elysées
Builder: Chantiers Dubigeon S. A., Prairie-au-Duc, Nantes, France.
Yard number: 167.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 130,00 x 23,02 x 5,00 metres.
Gross tonnage: 9,069.
Engines: Two 16 cylinder, S. E. M. T. Pielstick diesel.
Power: 15,840 kW.
Speed (knots): 18.5.
Passenger certificate: 1,800.
Car capacity: 330.

21.12.1983: Launched.
2.10.1984: Delivered to Société National de Chemins de Fer Français.
4.10.1984: Entered service Calais/Dover.
19.1.1985: Boulogne/Dover Sealink sailings reactivated.
28.9.1985: Boulogne sailings abandoned.
1987: Port of registry changed from Nantes to Calais.
22.1.1990: Registered for Société Propietaire des Navaires (S. P. N.).
2.7.1990: Transferred to Dieppe/Newhaven (re-registered at Dieppe).
1.5.1992: Chartered to Sealink Stena Line Limited.
26.5.1992: Overhauled at A. & P. Appledore, Southampton.
3.6.1992: Renamed Stena Parisien. Re-entered service Dieppe/Newhaven.
7.1.1997: Charter expired.
10.1.1997: Sent to Dunkerque for refit. Renamed Seafrance Manet. Registered for Seafrance S. A., Calais.
20.1.1997: Entered service Calais/Dover.
7.2009: Sold to Stena Line.
11.2009: Entered service on Stranraer/Belfast as Stena Navigator.

In 1986 there were slight changes to the livery of Champs Elysées. The 'SEALINK' trading came into line with the modern italic design featured by the British flagged Sealink vessels (although it was still white on blue, rather than vice versa). The S. N. C. F. logotype was updated with the new 'tram line' effect styling.
Photo: Ted Ingham.

Wearing the attractive 1987 livery of 'Sealink Ferries S. N. C. F.', Champs Elysées enters the harbour at Calais at the end of another crossing from Dover. The introduction of the all-white hull created a more unified look for the French and British vessels in the Sealink joint service.
Photo: Brian Fisher.

The vessel is seen here in the colours of Stena Sealink Line departing from Newhaven on a warm July evening in 1994.

In this view she is wearing the revised livery of Stena Line as she approaches Newhaven on a fine summer evening in 1996.

In this sequence Seafrance Manet captured turning in the harbour at Calais at the beginning of an early evening crossing to Dover.
She looks resplendent fresh from overhaul.

Still Seafrance Manet but back in Stena Line livery in September 2009.
Photos: Trevor Kidd.