The Glénans sailing school celebrates its 75th anniversary

At the end of the 2 nd World War, Hélène and Philippe Vianney, resistance fighters, go to the Glénans archipelago off the coast of Concarneau to visit friends. This stay will turn out to be an initiatory journey. The magic of the place gives birth to an idea that will never leave them: to organize stays there for all their resistant counterparts, bruised by the horrors of war. They have to relearn how to live, find a place in society, and for that, community life in such places seems to be a good way to achieve this.

Thus in 1947, the first stay was organized on the island of Loc’h with the agreement of the Bolloré family to whom it belongs. It is about creating a “school of life” where mutual aid and solidarity govern the rules of living together. The days are punctuated by leisure activities such as ball sports and theater, but in rather spartan conditions of comfort. The practice of sailing is then not yet topical. It is the transport by sea between Concarneau and the archipelago, as well as the proximity to the islanders and in particular the fishermen, which bring the maritime dimension into the organization of the days, proving to represent a major vector of escape and of personal reconstruction.

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At that time, the practice of sailing remained reserved for a wealthy elite. To be able to make boating more accessible and popular, Philippe Vianney had the brilliant idea of ​​designing with the famous architect and navigator Jean-Jacques Herbulot, a fun dinghy whose purchase price should not exceed that of 2 bikes: Le Vaurien , which from the summer of 1952 sailed in the school’s fleet. The Glénans school is built and developed on these bases. With success.

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Today, the Glénans school is the largest sailing school in Europe, with several nautical bases in Brittany, the Mediterranean and the West Indies. It welcomes more than 15,000 trainees and instructors per year, coming to learn or improve their skills in various light sailing and cruising media.

“Sea school, sailing school, school of life”

When you land on one of the islands of the school of the archipelago (Drénec, Penfret, Bananec or Fort Cigogne), you are struck by a captivating landscape, with crystal clear waters and white sand (due to the presence of maërl, accumulation of coralline algae rich in limestone, long exploited to enrich the soil and today protected), gorged with a sky of changing lights specific to Brittany.

But you should not expect a comfortable stay in a 5-star hotel: here we sleep in tents, we prepare meals together, we are entitled to 10 liters of water a day for washing (and not the It’s hard to try to accumulate 3 days without washing to hope to recover 3 seals at once, it cannot be combined!), and above all, for the conveniences, you will have at your disposal…”Les Cunégondes”, an institution! It is moreover one of the first things of daily life that you are presented with when you arrive: dry toilets resting on holes, regularly moved with, ultimate luxury, an unobstructed view of the ocean!

These islands represent a preserved space that absolutely must be protected. This is why everything is done to ensure that the impact of visitors is reduced to a minimum: the energy is of solar and wind origin and reserved for essential needs (no need to hope to recharge your telephone daily!), all waste is sorted and returned to the mainland, water comes from different sources and is used very sparingly. Everyone is invited to question themselves on how it works and its impact, and to find practices that respect the environment, which, if they were universally applied, would allow our planet a sigh of breathing space…

“Sea school, sailing school, school of life” is the original slogan, which for 75 years has perfectly defined the school of Glénans. It has seen the biggest names in the sailing world: Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, Franck Cammas, Vincent Riou, Maud Fontenoy, Isabelle Joschke, Louis Burton and many other great sailors.

Each year, thousands of trainees, instructors and volunteers rub shoulders there, the time of learning and privileged exchanges, then each one resumes his journey, on land, at sea, with in his luggage the indelible mark of a unforgettable experience.

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