The SS Ile de France was a French ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT). Known to cheese lovers as the first ship to carry Brie Cheese to the United States (it also was the first ship ever equipped with refrigeration) it had a long and illustrious story beyond its role in the history of fromage.
The first major ocean liner built after World War I, it is often considered the most beautifully decorated ship ever built by the CGT and was the first ocean liner decorated entirely in the Art Deco style.
The Ile de France was launched in 1926 at the Penhoët shipyard and was greeted by thousands of government officials as well as workers, journalists and French citizens.
In 1927, the Ile de France traveled from Le Havre for its maiden voyage to New York, where it received great attention from American media. A crowd of thousands congregated at the docks to see it.
Later, the ship served members of the American and British military after being converted to a troop ship in 1941. It would serve the Allied interests until September 1945.
In 1947, it was returned to France and underwent a two-year reconstruction to once again become a luxury passenger ship. It played a major role in a 1956 rescue operation after a collision between two other passenger liners near Nantucket. About 750 out of the 1,706 passengers and crewmembers on the Andrea Doriawere ship were taken aboard the Ile de France during a six hour rescue operation.
By 1959, air travel had become commonplace and business for posh ocean liners was rapidly declining. The last public appearance of the Ile de France was as a floating prop for a Hollywood film - "The Last Voyage." After filming ended the ship was taken to a scrap yard.