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Historic Hermione sets sail on Mediterranean voyage

L'Hermione, the replica of the frigate that carried Lafayette to America in 1780, has set sail on a voyage around the French and Iberian coast, with tickets available to buy to visit her.

31 January 2018
By Connexion journalist

The ship, which took 17 years to build using hand-made original materials from across France, is a replica of the original 1789 vessel that took General Lafayatte across to America to help defeat the British in the War of Independence in 1780.

Created from a blueprint of original plans drawn up by the British Admiralty, Hermione was thought up by author Erik Orsenna and Franco-American civil servant Benedict Donnelly in 1993.

Finally completed in 2014, L'Hermione was then tested - and her 150-strong crew trained in how to sail her - before embarking on a four-month voyage across the Atlantic and back, to take part in the 2015 Independence Day celebrations in New York.

She returned to France in August 2015.

Now, she has begun another voyage - this time an 120-day-long tour around the French and Iberian coastline, setting off from Rochefort yesterday (January 30), and stopping first in La Rochelle until February 20.

She will then continue around the Iberian coast to Tangiers, northern Morocco (March 9-13), and then loop back up to Barcelona in Spain (March 22-24).

After that, she will continue to Sète (March 27-April 2), Toulon (April 5-9), La Ciotat (April 10), Marseille (April 12-16), Port Vendres (April 20-22), Nice (April 25), and Bastia, Corsica (April 27-29).

Her return voyage will then take in Portimao, Portugal (May 8-10); Pasaia, Spain (May 18-21); and Bordeaux (June 10-13).

She will return to Rochefort on June 16.

Visitor tickets for each leg of the journey will open for booking online two months ahead of each journey itself - with the exception of La Rochelle, which will have a ticket kiosk on the harbour quai.

Bookings for La Rochelle and Sète are already open.

Members of the loyalty programme Association L’Hermione will have free, priority access without reservations aboard, on presentation of their 2018 card, as long as the ship is open to the public.

The ship’s crew - under the commandment of Yann Cariou - will include around 15 highly-trained professional sailors and around 350 young volunteers, all of whom were chosen for their physical aptitude, sailing ability, and motivation to participate in the historic voyage.

Some of the volunteers were also chosen because of their connection to the francophone world, as part of the project’s association with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie - including from Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Togo, the Iles Maurice, and - of course - France.

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