Getting 18 people and 1 boat onto an even keel

A Nantes-based association for social integration is helping eighteen socially excluded individuals by putting them to work on an ambitious project to refloat a horse-drawn barge.

Social and Employment

Nantes, France

Didier Gras-Bouteville

30,000 € to the Selection Committee at 2004/09/28

Project leader


« This project is all about a worthy cause: getting men and women aged 18 to 60 back into the workplace. It is a high profile, ambitious project to help others. »

Didier Gras-Bouteville

Launched in 1907, the Condorcet, was the last horse-drawn barge to leave the Nantes shipyards. It plied its trade for many years but has now become the proud if rusty representative of a bygone age and is classed as an historic monument.
In 2004, to spruce up the Condorcet,which measures 27 metres from bow to stern, 4.58 metres across and weighs 40 tonnes, extensive renovation work was required. ATAO, a Nantes-based association for social integration, has decided to get the vessel back afloat and run a social integration project at the same time. By restoring this magnificent example of the national maritime heritage, the association initiated a project involving over two years of intensive metalwork to complete, while providing work for a score of employees on job-creation contracts. These men and women, aged 18 to 60, were previously victims of social and professional exclusion.
Since then, the Condorcet has returned to service at the musée de la Batellier in Redon where it is used as a demonstration vessel for schoolchildren and tourists. The 30,000 euros provided by the Veolia foundation helped buy the equipment and materials needed for its renovation.