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French sailors in Iceland

In the museum, the interesting history and legacy of the French sailors in Iceland is shown by means of the latest multimedia technology.

The French sailors maintained a station at Fáskrúðsfjörður from the mid-19thcentury till the First World War, with the number of French sailing ships off Iceland peaking at between 200 and 300. However, the history of French cod fishing off Iceland goes back even further, all the way to the 17th century.

During this long history, many ships never made it back to their home country. It is estimated that up to 400 of them were lost around Iceland, along with 4,000-5,000 seamen. Down by the French graveyard, a monument has been erected in honour of these heroes of the sea who were subjected to hard work, dampness and cold, not to mention accidents.

Their fishing operations were highly important for villages on the northern French coast; for example, in Dunkerque in the 1860s, approximately 6,000 people were employed in relation to fishing off Iceland. These operations were also significant for other villages, such as Paimpol and Gravelines.

The renovation of the French heritage buildings, one of the largest historical restoration outside the capitol area, was finished in the summer of 2014. The five French buildings play a substantial role in local culture and society in Fáskrúðsfjörður. The French Hospital, for example, now serves as a hotel with the restaurant l'Abri on the ground floor. The Chapel is the only building that still maintains its original role and is open for guests of the museum.

The museum is open daily from 10:00 to 18:00 (from May to end of August, or by agreement).

French sailors in Iceland

Hafnargötu 12

GPS Points N64° 55' 40.900" W14° 0' 19.133"
Telephone

+354 475-1170

Opening period 01/06 - 31/08

Travel directory for French sailors in Iceland

The official travel index of Iceland

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Nature
12.26 km
Sandfell

Sandfell is a distinctive 743m. high rhyolite mountain between Stöðvarfjörður and Fáskrúðsfjörður. The best approach is from the south side of Fáskrúðsfjörður. The trail leaves the coastal road between Víkurgerði and Vík farms and proceeds along the Víkurgerðisá River before cutting west for the peak. The scenery is excellent en route, with views of Fáskrúðsfjörður, Andey and Skrúður islands. The ascent + descent takes approx. 5 hours.

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History and Culture
1.40 km
The French Graveyard - le cimetiere francais

Just outside the village Búðir in Fáskrúðsfjörður, you will find the French graveyard. The graveyard is from the times of the French sailors who came to Fáskrúðsfjörður for many years. There are 49 known graves in the yard.

Nature
10.39 km
Kolfreyjustaður

The vicarage Kolfreyjustaður in Fáskrúðsfjörður dates back to the year 1878 many old and beautiful artifacts are there to be seen. The place swarms with stories and legends. The troll Kolfreyja lends her name to the site and her fellow troll lived in the island of Skrúður.

Nature
15.82 km
Skrúður

Skrúður is an island haven in the mouth of fjord Fáskrúðsfjörður. It is surrounded by high cliffs accessible only to the bold and brave. On the island, there is a sizable cave which was occasionally used as a shelter for sailors making their way southwards. Legends say there were three giant brothers living in the East, one of whom made his home in Skrúður, the other in Streitishvarf and the third on the island of Papey. The Skrúður dweller abducted his wife from the on-shore vicarage of Kolfreyjustaður; the local priest´s young daughter. Legends relating to their insular existence lived among the sailors who visited the island.

History and Culture
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The French hospital, l´hopital francais

For 70 years, the French Hospital was located in the former agglomeration of Hafnarnes in Fáskrúðsfjörður, having been moved by sea from the village of Búðir in 1939. Originally it was built in 1903 as a hospital for the French sailors who frequented the banks off the shore during that period. The declining building was moved back to Fáskrúðsfjörður in the autumn of 2010 for restoration purposes.

Nature
7.86 km
Einbúi

Jafnadalur is a valley in Stöðvarfjördur facing northward. At the core of the vale, there is Einbúinn - "The Hermit"- , a voluminous and solitary rock in otherwise flat surroundings. The Jafnadalur also boasts a 6 m. stonearch, located to the east of Mt. Álftafell. A walking trail connects Jafnadalur and fjord Fáskrúðsfjörður. These are agreeable surroundings and well-suited for short or extensive hikes.

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East Iceland

Towns & Villages

Each town in East Iceland has its own characteristics. In some of the coastal villages the influence of North European neighbours is obvious to everyone. 

The French made a strong impact in Fáskrúðsfjörður where the road signs are made out in French as well as in Icelandic. Norwegian influence is easily detected in the Eskifjörður and Seydisfjörður architecture. No such roots are to be seen in Egilsstadir which is latest addition to East Iceland agglomeration, founded in the late forties of the 20th century.  

Map Vopnafjörður Borgarfjörður Eystri Egilsstaðir Seyðisfjörður Mjóifjörður Neskaupstaður Breiðdalsvík Eskifjörður Reyðarfjörður Fáskrúðsfjörður Stöðvarfjörður Djúpivogur