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Americas

Replica of La Fayette's Hermione sets sail from France to US

media The Hermione's sails are unfurled during the week before setting off for the US Sarah Elzas

French President François Hollande on Saturday saw off a replica of the ship that took the Marquis de La Fayette and his comrades to the aid of the American revolution 235 years ago. The Hermione set sail across the Atlantic from France's west coast, viewed by thousands of people and armed with a goodwill message from US President Barack Obama.

Hollande hailed the reconstructed Hermione as a "collective masterpiece" as the sun sank low over the Ile d'Aix in the mouth of the River Charente and its 80-strong crew set off on a 13,000-kilometre journey that should take them six weeks.

"I wish you fair winds and following seas," Obama told them in a written message. "Bon voyage!"

La Fayette sailed to join the American war of independence from Britain in 1780 at the age of 23 and the French goverment has seized the opportunity of the replica Hermione's voyage to remind Washington of the long history of Franco-American friendship.

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