The Opinel Hermione project.

From the first moment I heard the name of America, I loved it; from the instant I knew it struggled for freedom, I was consumed with the desire to shed my blood for her. I will count the days I got the chance to serve it, everywhere and anytime, among the happiest days of my life.

- Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette


The Hermione was the ship that La Fayette obtained from the French government, after his successful mission to persuade the French to help the struggling American revolutionaries. In today's port town of Rochefort, where the French Royal Navy once built its ships, there is once again a shipbuilding project. The Hermione-La Fayette Association is crafting a replica of the ship which will re-enact the voyage of Lafayette in 1780, this time crossing the Atlantic to Boston in 2014.

Building commenced on the sailing frigate Hermione at the Rochefort Arsenal in 1778, based on the drawings produced by the engineer Henri Chevillard. The 44 m light frigate, fast and easy to handle, carried 3000 m2 of sail and was armed with 32 cannons. It had a crew of 300. Hermione is linked to the adventures and courage of one man- Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.

As a young man in love with freedom, 19-year-old Lafayette set off to fight at the side of American rebels for the independence of the United States of America. On his return to France to seek official support for the rebel cause, he managed to convince Louis XVI to send reinforcements. On March 21st 1780, the Marquis de Lafayette boarded Hermione, reaching Boston after a crossing of 38 days. He advised General Washington on the imminent arrival of French reinforcements. On September 20th 1793, after fourteen year of service in the French Royal Navy, in particular in conflicts with the British, Hermione ran aground and was shipwrecked on the rocks off Le Croisic in France.

The Hermione-La Fayette Association has been reconstructing the frigate since 1997. The boatyard is open to visitors, at Rochefort.

More info about this incredible symbol of Franco-American Alliance can be found below.