During World War II, most of France’s traditional sailing vessels were destroyed and after the war, the emphasis was on building new powered craft.
There was a movement in about 1990 to restart bringing back France’s maritime history and the ports around the coast of Brittany were asked to build a traditional vessel each. There was a considerable response and a whole new fleet appeared.
Brest, the main town in Brittany, built the largest vessel. This was the topsail schooner Recouvrance, a replica of an 1835 vessel that was launched by a crane as the climax to the 1992 Brest Maritime Festival. This massive Festival is held every four years, but the original Brittany maritime event, the Temps Fête Maritime Festival, at Douarnenez, is held every two years.
In July, about six hundred entrants gathered at Douarnenez for four days. When sections of the fleet went out into the Bay, there were every type of craft you have ever dreamed of and quite a few you have never heard of. On most days, the large vessels, the barque Kaskelot, the barquentine Marite, the 3-masted topsail schooner Oosterschelde, steel ketch Iris and the Recouvrance took out parties of people and in the evening, they had social events on their decks.
The wooden barquentine Marite was built in 1921 at Fecamp, Normandy for cod fi shing with dories off Newfoundland, but became a motor coaster. In the 1980s, she was at Stockholm being rebuilt and rigged out, but she seems to have been a pleasure boat and then a television studio. She returned to French ownership and was back under sail in 2012 at Granville, Normandy, where she is still based and runs passenger trips.