Cite de la Voile Eric Tabarly, dedicated to sailing in France, welcomes 1,300 visitors aboard its interactive sailing museum at opening in Brittany last weekend.
The coast of France boasts a long and glorious nautical history, and now it has a new place for people of all ages to learn about the sport of sailing. Cite de la Voile (City of Sailing in English), named after Eric Tabarly, a French sailor lost at sea, opened to the public this past weekend. The wave-shaped modern building covered with solar panels, designed by French architect Jacques Ferrier, welcomed over 1,300 its first weekend of operation.
The interactive museum, with hands-on activities for sailing enthusiasts young and old, is situated in Lorient, on the edge of the Atlantic on a site that saw much destruction during WWII and that even became a large German submarine base. The building of the Cite de la Voile on this site in France is therefore symbolic of the rebirth and reconstruction of the coast of France since the devastation of that war.
In addition to Eric Tabarly, who disappeared during a sailing expedition ten years ago, the Cite de la Voile honors other famous sailing names of France such as Alain Gautier and Franck Cammas, with high-tech simulators of their boats for visitors to try, and get a “real” experience of helming a racing boat or catamaran. Installations explore the history of sailing in France, Man and the sea, science and ecology, life on board a boat and other sailing themes.
The French museum is a space of literal immersion in the world of sailing. 11 giant screens equipped with sound surround visitors when they enter, placing them in the middle of the ocean. There are hands-on exhibits and live presentations on sailing basics such as knots, raising sails and navigation.
The Cite is the centerpiece of the reconversion of the entire area into a French sailing-related hub. All around the museum are marinas and ship construction companies for building racing boats for France and other countries. There are 21 concerns in all.
62 million euros have been invested in the project by the European Union, 21 million for the Cite de la Voile alone. 10,000 people, both individuals and French school groups, have already reserved tickets for the museum over the next few months, and 100,000 are expected per year.
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