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Historic ship Hermione confirms more details for 2019

The 'Normandie Liberté' tour of the historic ship will begin in May 2019, after successful tours in the Americas and the Mediterranean in 2015 and 2018.

The “Normandie Liberté (Normandy Freedom)” tour - first announced in September this year - will see the famous frigate leave its home port of Rochefort, and complete a series of stages including Cherbourg (May 4-8), Nantes (May 25-28), and Rouen (June 7-16).

Other stops will include Dieppe (May 10-13), Ouistreham (May 14-17), Saint-Nazaire (May 23-25), and Rives-en-Seine (June 5-7).

The tour will start on May 4, and finish on June 16. Hermione will return to Rochefort on July 5.

Hermione is often seen as a symbol of Franco-American friendship, and is a replica of the ship that carried Marquis La Fayette to help America with the War of Independence in 1780.

As with previous tours, she will be accessible to visitors who wish to explore aboard. Tickets will be available for each stage of the journey in early 2019.

Similarly, as with previous tours, the ship will be crewed by a mixture of professional sailors, and young volunteers who take part for some, or all, of the voyage.

The tour will coincide with - and help celebrate - the 75th anniversary of the Allied troops’ Normandy Landings in the Second World War. This key event would go on to precipitate the liberation of France, and also come to be seen as a key moment in Franco-American relations.

The highlight will be Hermione’s presence at the international ship and yacht race, L’Armada de Rouen - previously known as the “L'Armada de la Liberté (The Armada of Freedom)”.

The race was created in 1989 to mark the 45th anniversary of the Landings. In 2019 it will take place from June 6-16, and include a celebratory schedule of quayside fireworks, concerts and more in Rouen and along the Seine.

Hermione will have a slightly later arrival into Rouen as part of the event, scheduled for 21h on June 7.

In Saint-Nazaire and Nantes, Hermione will take part in the second annual nautical festival, le Débord de Loire. This will bring together a great variety of ships and boats, including older vessels, working ships, racing yachts and small leisure craft.

As part of the festival, Hermione is also set to take part in a “nautical ballet” performance on the Loire - with many other yachts and boats - on Saturday May 25.

Olivier Pagezy, president of the ship’s association, L’Association Hermione - La Fayette, explained the project and said the association was still looking for support from businesses and the general public.

He said: “To support the fourth voyage of the ship, we need help from benefactors, from the towns along the way, from the public, and also from businesses.

“Associating your business with the 2019 Voyage represents an opportunity to share the values of this unique organisation and to embrace the global communication aspect of this trip.

“Every business can become a partner of the 2019 Voyage, and benefit from VIP experiences on board the mythical frigate.

“You can even support the volunteer ship hands who travel on Hermione as members of the crew, by becoming a supporter of the “Hermione Jeunesse” programme as part of the Foundation Hermione Academy.”

Hermione is one of the world’s largest wooden sailing ships – 66m long in total, with a 47m-high main mast, 2.2km² of sails and 25km of ropes.

Originally built in six months in 1778, her replica took 17 years to build, drawing on the expertise of craftspeople from around the world, and using original French navy plans for the sister ship discovered in the British Admiralty.

The ship has been visited by millions since it took its first sea voyage across the Atlantic in 2015.

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