Culture and Heritage

Primary tabs

Between tradition and modernity, with the goal of keeping the History of the Sea alive for present and future generations, many organisations dedicate their efforts to conserving and protecting this historic, economic and cultural heritage (which reminds us how closely we have been attached to the sea from ancient times to the present day). These organisations also endeavour to raise public awarenes of the maritime world by holding lectures and seminars, and by allowing regular contact and interaction with its professionals 


An association founded in 1975, recognised as a public interest body, with branches throughout the country, AMERAMI works to safeguard France's maritime and fluvial heritage. Among its activities are research and the preservation and restoration of old ships of all types. Once restored, a ship must sail again if it can and recreate the epoch of its service on the sea. 18 of them have already done so. 

All areas of maritime activities are covered: fishing, yachting, transport, defence, surveillance, rescue. From the Vaurien N°1 sailing dinghy to the Argonaute submarine, from history-making yachts to the Vigie, a steam launch operating in Paris, more than 80 units have been restored. 

Vétille, France’s oldest iron-hulled yacht (1893), listed as a historical monument. 

Association des Peintres Officiels de la Marine

​The Official Navy Painters Association (APOM) was formed in 1973 by the marine artist and Director of the National Navy Museum at the time, Luc Marie BAYLE. Membership of the APOM is made up of painters, sculptors, engravers and photographers with the title of official Navy Painters. It keeps members of the corps of marine artists in touch with one another and maintains their links with the Navy. It also arranges trips aboard ships for willing artists, holds numerous exhibitions and organises working stays and publications in a civil and military context. 

“Les matelots en escale.” 

Sylvie du Plessis , Official Navy Artist 

Centre Internationade la Mer La Corderie Royale

Established since 1985 at the Corderie Royale (Royal Ropeworks) of Rochefort (Charente Maritime), the International Centre of the Sea is an associative body whose mission is to disseminate maritime culture through all forms of media (exhibitions, publications, mediation services, symposiums, cultural engineering, etc.) and to develop tourism at the former naval dockyard of Colbert where it has a restaurant, several specialised points of sale, a significant involvement in the cultural activities at the reconstruction site of the 18th century frigate Hermione, and caters for 400,000 visitors per year. 

FestivaInternationadFilm Maritime dExploration et d'Environnement

For more than 60 years this festival has been exhibiting films on underwater exploration and also adventure in which new discoveries of peoples every year help to penetrate the secrets of the universe and uncover different ethnic groups around the world. This makes it a powerful tool for the Memory of the World and also a harbinger of the future. It also deals with topics such as the environment, sustainable development, fauna, flora and animal life which are presented in superb productions that fire the imagination, but also cause us to reflect. 


World SeFilm Festival

The Guilde Européenne du Raid in conjunction with Dunkirk Urban Community holds a World Sea Film Festival every year. This maritime film event held over three days stages competitive screenings of some twenty films on subjects as diverse as ecology and marine exploration, adventure at sea and water sports, and even occupations related with the sea. The aim is to raise awareness among the general public of the issues and challenges surrounding the oceans and seas in the modern world. 

Fondation du patrimoine maritime et fluvia 

The Maritime and Fluvial Heritage Foundation is the part of the Fondation du Patrimoine responsible for initiatives related with the unprotected maritime and fluvial heritage. It centralises the actions of the Regional Federations for Maritime Culture. In addition it is France's representative in the European Maritime Heritage organisation, a cultural body whose purpose is to record and showcase the maritime heritage of Europe, and to standardise the regulations on operating historic boats and vessels. Its main function is to identify and label Boats of Importance to the National Heritage. 

All labelled boats are described in detail in technical data files with photographs which anyone can consult on the Foundation's premises. 

Since 2011 the labelling process has been extended to cover waterways, and VNF gives a 90% reduction on navigation fees for boats that have obtained a label. 

Fondation Belem

The Belem Foundation, recognized as a public utility organization, was established to preserve the three-masted barque Belem – the last 19th century merchant sailing ship still afloat – in the landscape of French nautical heritage. In 2014, this civil training ship also a listed historical monument, received 29,000 visitors during 23 open days and provided places for 1,000 trainees during 124 days at sea. In 2015, the Belem sail principally in Atlantic Ocean, English Channel, Ireland Sea and North Sea. A sailing program punctuated with islands discoveries for exploring the Atlantic coast until Bayonne, Normandy and North area, Celtic Earth with Britain, Ireland, Cornwall and Walls before to join Amsterdam. The Belem is also a part of major events: The Solitaire du Figaro start in Bordeaux, the French National Day in Nantes and the Sail Amsterdam, one of the most spectacular tall ship meeting. Finally, the Belem is deeply open to all the visitors in 9 French and Europeans harbour. 


Musée Nationade la Marine

As a witness to the French maritime activity since the XVIII century, the Musée national de la Marine is the oldest French institution that showcases through its objects, models and paintings the importance of the French maritime heritage. Temporary exhibitions and interactive programmes enable more than 400,000 visitors every year to discover the historical, economic and sociological effects of maritime adventures from the distant past to the present day. The museum collaborates constantly with the French Maritime Cluster, thereby becoming established in the maritime world of today. 


Much more than a mere aquarium, NAUSICAA, the French National Sea Experience Centre in Boulogne-sur-Mer, is a unique place where visitors can discover the marine environment. At once entertaining, educational and scientific, the Centre derives its originality from its main focus on the relationship between Man and the Sea. 36,000 animals, giant aquariums, 5,000 m. of exhibitions, the very latest technologies and the magic of a breath-taking setting: there’s everything you need to fire your imagination. 

Since 2015, NAUSICAA launches a new exhibition entitled Ocean & Climate: getting hot in here! This exhibition is carried out in partnership with Météo- France and the National Museum of Natural History. 

In December 2015, France will be hosting the 21st climate conference, Paris Climat 2015. 

NAUSICAA and the partners of the Ocean and Climate Platform 2015 will be busy throughout the year to ensure that the Ocean is central to discussions at Cop 21. 

NAUSICAA is taking Ocean and Climate as its main theme to fulfil one of its essential roles, increasing awareness of the importance of the oceans in climate regulation. 


Océanopolis is located at the edge of Brest Bay. The park is mainly dedicated to oceans’ study and discovery. Altogether, it is fitted with 68 aquariums and 9,000 m. of visiting area. It is also a Centre for Science and Techniques which mainly focuses on sea environment to offer all age audiences a deep dive into maritime and sea ecosystems. 

Océanopolis opened its gates for the first time in 1990. Since then, close relations have been developed with scientists and oceanographers. West of Brittany hosts the main part of French oceanographic research and development with a wide range of national institutes, schools and leading companies in the field of marine science and technology. 

Océanopolis’ priorit y is the sharing of the knowledge, and it aims at developing the audience’s sensitivity towards a sustainable use of oceans, by mixing both science and sea discovery. So that, once they have been presented the most recent progress in the field of oceanographic research and development, everyone could become aware of their environment impact. 

Voiles et Traditions

Voiles & Traditions offers trips open to everyone on board traditional sailing boats to explore the maritime world: for companies (customer hospitality trips, team building, seminars...), for the works council and also for the general public. The boat trips are mainly to Bréhat Island, in Brittany but also range from Spain to Ireland. One of its heritage sailing boats is certified for all oceans. 

Total turnover in 2012 was E 207,743 - staff of 3