Days of Yore
‘Voiles de la Liberté’ draw 10 Dutch Tall Ships
ROUEN _ François Hollande was born here. Joan of Arc died here. Claude Monet painted here. But in 2013 nothing beats “l’Armada 2013” as a reason to visit Rouen. Its 10-day “Les Voiles de la Liberte” festival starts happening June 6 when 50 or so Tall Ships _ including 10 from the Netherlands _ sail up the wildly looping Seine through Normandy’s gorgeous landscapes to Rouen.
Held every 5 years, the event marks its 25th anniversary in 2013 and will see a parade of seagoing glory stretching 30 kms. Spectators have access to 7 km of Rouen quays for an up-close look at Tall Ships. The event, locally simply known as “l’Armada” draws millions of visitors. Over the years, the festivities have come to include modern and classical music concerts, fireworks and sundry entertainment.
An up-close look at one Dutch participant:
The Stad Amsterdam (photo) is a 3-masted clipper of 76m that was completed in 2000 at a cost of about €10 million. The ship was designed by Gerard Dijkstra Naval Architects and modeled after the mid-19th century frigate Amsterdam. She is not a replica because she has a steel hull. She combines the best qualities of historic clippers and has a classic “look and feel”. She is very fast ship, 15 knots being her normal speed. The building of the hull in 1997-98 was a Dutch job-creation project for jobless metalworking and welding workers). The Stad Amsterdam is today a training and charter ship for guests. She carries an international crew of about 20.
In September 2009, the Stad Amsterdam was refitted to accommodate a televised research expedition that traced the 2nd voyage of HMS Beagle (1831-36) and Charles Darwin’s observations that led to his theory of evolution.