Les RAPIDES de . . . partout

Some of the Transports Citroën networks became Rapides . . .

billet / ticket bellgraphic RCA
The fleetname "Rapides" was to become well known in many parts of France. It appears to have had its origins from developments within some of the Transports Citroën networks from the 1930s, whilst it is possible that some other non-related operators may have adopted the name as well.
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, alors qu'il est possible que certains autres opérateurs non liés peuvent avoir adopté le nom ainsi.

As early as 1934 we can find these operators listed in the Quillet timetable:

RAPIDES DES ARDENNES of Charleville
also known as the Compagnie Ardennaise des Transports Citroën

RAPIDES DE BOURGOGNE of Auxerre
also known as Cars Citroën and believed to have left the direct control of Citroën in 1934.

RAPIDES DE NORMANDIE of Caen
Transports Citroën - Réseau de Caen was established in October 1932. This was very quickly renamed Rapides de Normandie - Cars Citroën but passed under SGTD control 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).

RAPIDES DE LA MEUSE of Bar-le-Duc and Verdun
also known as the Société Meusienne des Transports Citroen. Acquired by the SGTD group in 1945.

RAPIDES DE LORRAINE of Nancy and Metz
Founded in February 1933 at Nancy by the merger of Rapides Bleus (5 routes and 20 vehicles) with Transports Citroën (14 routes and 50 vehicles), both of whom had only started operating the previous year. By the start of the second world war there were 32 routes and about a hundred vehicles. Passed into the ownership of the Gagneraud group, along with Rapides de Maroc and Rapides de Cote d'Azur. Eventually part of Connex, then Veolia, and since 2015 operates as Transdev Grand-Est.

RAPIDES DE CHAMPAGNE of Reims
Commnenced in 1932 from Citroen-related origins and operating at that time a network of routes also serving Soissons, Chateau-Thierry and Chalons-sur-Marne.  The company is associated with the family of Denis Ardon who was the Citroën concessionaire in the cathedral city of Reims.


cover rapides de bourgogne 1954
RAPIDES DE TOURAINE of Tours
also known as the Société Tourangelle des Transports Citroen. (Rapides de Touraine were acquired by the Verney group and then merged with their STAO Touraine company in the 1990s).

RAPIDES DU POITOU of Poitiers
formerly the Compagnie Citroën du Poitou, changing name as early as April 1933.

Whether the several Rapides companies mentioned above were ever actually a group in the sense of common ownership or not is unclear but there are some inter-relationships. It may have been so  in part, or it may have been simply adoption of a popular and obvious trade name by various separate companies.
Que les plusieurs sociétés Rapides mentionnées ci-dessus étaient en fait un groupe dans le sens de la propriété commune ou non n'est pas connu. Il a peut-être été le cas, ou il peut avoir été tout simplement l'adoption d'un nom commercial populaire par diverses sociétés distinctes.

Moving forward over thirty years these Rapides companies were included in the Chaix Réseaux Divers timetable in 1968:

Rapides de Bourgogne (Auxerre)
Rapides de la Meuse (Bar-le-Duc)   (merged with the Courriers de la Marne of Chalons-sur-Marne
              by 1972 to become the 'Rapides de la Marne et Meuse')
Rapides de Lorraine (Nancy)
Rapides de Champagne (Reims)
Rapides de Touraine (Tours)
Rapides du Poitou (Poitiers)
Rapides de Cote d'Azur (Nice) - a substantial operator founded in 1937, becoming part of CGEA group in 1991 and then later into the Veolia group. Owned by the Gagneraud group who also owned Rapides de Lorraine. The latter day patron, Michel Gagneraud, died in August 2014 at the age of 78.


It is known that in 1975 the companies below came under the control of the predecessors of the Transcet / Progécar group, which suggests also that these four at least were previously under common ownership, possibly that of STAM (Société des Transports Automobiles Mondragon):

Rapides de Bourgogne (Auxerre)
Rapides de Touraine (Tours)
Rapides du Poitou (Poitiers)
Rapides du Sud-Est (Avignon) - origins unclear


cover of timetable

rapides champagne cover 1950



The Transcet group expanded by several acquisitions but its 'Rapides' activities included by 1992:

Rapides de Bourgogne (Auxerre)
Rapides de Touraine (Tours)
Rapides du Poitou (Poitiers)
Rapides du Sud-Est (Avignon)
    and they introduced two new additions to the 'Rapides' repertoire:
Rapides Saone-et-Loire (Macon) - from 1987, previously the Régie des Transports de Saone-et-Loire
Rapides du Val de Loire (Orleans) - previously part of TREC - Transports Régionaux de l'Est et du Centre with bases at both Troyes and Orleans - might this in some way be a descendant of the pre-war Compagnie Transports Régionaux de l'Est et du Centre (Autocars Citroën) of Troyes?


The 2012 listing of Transdev (successors to Transcet / Progécar) subsidiaries shows:
RAPIDES DE BOURGOGNE (Auxerre)
RAPIDES DE SAONE ET LOIRE (Chalon-Sur-Saône)
RAPIDES DU VAL DE LOIRE (Orléans)

Whilst the Veolia group lists these subsidiaries:
RAPIDES DE LORRAINE (Metz) - part of CGEA group previously
RAPIDES DE LA MEUSE (Bar-le-Duc)

It is known also that:
RAPIDES DU POITOU are still in operation (now a subsidiary of the FAST transport group since 2001)
RAPIDES DE COTE D'AZUR are still in operation (still showing the Connex logo on their website)
RAPIDES DU SUD-EST are believed to still be in operation (or were in 2005)
 
But Rapides de Touraine no longer appears. Some uncertainties remain and it is likely that there never was a single group which encompassed all users of the 'Rapides' name. Examples of common ownership include the Gagneraud family with Rapides de Lorraine and Rapides de Cote d'Azur.

Rapides de Lorraine 1965



Rapides de Champagne, a Citroen 32B of 1939, fleet number 78, destination Chalons
(photograph by Denis Andon)
Rapides de Champagne Citroen 32B of 1939



Rapides de Lorraine in Audun-le-Tiche on the Luxembourg border, June 2012. Operating a TIM service (Transport Interurbain de la Moselle)
(photograph by Tony Ethridge)
Rapides de Lorraine Audun-le-Tiche June 2012



rapides val de loire logo
Follow these links for more information about

Rapides de Touraine

or

Rapides de Poitou

or

Rapides de Bourgogne

or

Rapides de Lorraine

or

Rapides de Champagne
rapides val de loire logo


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, James Bunting and Clive D'eath



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