Mémoire du Léman Association
The Mémoire du Léman Association was created in 1992 and came out of the utopian aim of rebuilding one of these lateen rigged sailboats that so much marked the 19th century history and which remains in collective memories a symbol of the Léman region culture.
This project was in line with the recovery of the national ship heritage encouraged by our Breton friends but with very little support and motivation from the state: What a strange idea to rebuild a ship in a mountainous region where skiing is the star!
And yet, the birth of the association did not go unnoticed: The picture showing the Meillerie sailboat with its load of cut stones and its huge lateen sails carried such a strong historical message that signs of sympathies came from the whole county and showed that this idea was favourably responded to. This project had to come true, but goodwill and support did not show up. It was first chosen to rebuild the identical copy of "LA SAVOIE", a ship that had been sailing from 1896 until the end of the thirties and that was destroyed in 1945. Some Swiss heritage-lover partners, glad to see that the French side of the lake was getting involved in the revival of its history, quickly gave its support in offering the first pieces of wood and motorisation.
Setting up the financial plans for this project, looking for partnerships, technical preparations and the inevitable hitches did not allow the launch of the construction works for the centenary of the original model. Nevertheless, in the spring 1997, in Thonon harbour, the first pieces of the ship's structure were finally installed. And during the following 3 years, in public and in front of thousands of spectators, "La Savoie" was being built at the pace of the carpenters' outstanding work. The works were supported by all the Association's volunteers who gave a lot of their time to comment, explain, and show around this extraordinary construction work.
The lateen rigged sailboat "La Savoie" was launched in the spring of year 2000, in front of 25 000 spectators and was the largest heritage ship rebuilt in France to this day. The ship received its entire sails in 2001, and ever since, she regularly sails on Lac Léman from May to October, and is always supported by the Association's volunteers who became organisers, historians, and boatmen.
In 3 seasons, all the harbours on the lake's French coast were visited as well as many places in Switzerland, where "La Savoie" is henceforth very well known like its elders "La Neptune" in Geneva and "La Vaudoise" in Lausanne.
"La Savoie" is based in Evian and is ready to raise anchor as soon as the good weather arrives. She is waiting for you to come onboard for a cruise and perhaps to participate to her management and maintenance.