The Fondation de Coubertin is a registered public charity dedicated to the preservation and advancement of traditional crafts by combining education and production. It has been in operation for more than 50 years.
The foundation adheres to the spirit and values of the Compagnonnage (traditional associations of craftsmen), and to the high moral and cultural tradition of the Coubertin family (ennobled in 1477 by King Louis XI of France). The Coubertin estate has remained in the uninterrupted possession of the family for over 400 years.
The origins of the Compagnonnage go back to the time of the construction of medieval cathedrals in France. Although organized as an alternative to the guilds, it was abolished along with all other workmen’s associations by the Le Chapelier law of 1791 and went through difficult times with diverse movements. Today the largest organization is the Association Ouvrière des Compagnons du Devoir.
The rebirth of the Compagnonnage, with all its human and cultural values, owes much to Jean Bernard, at whose behest the Association was created.
Yvonne de Coubertin, who died in 1973, devoted her life to students, by creating the first university residence houses for women in the 1920s, and to workers, by founding with Jean Bernard the Fondation de Coubertin in 1950.
The Fondation today
The Fondation de Coubertin draws revenues from the income generated by its workshops, which operate under the name of Ateliers Saint-Jacques, and the art foundry under the name of Fonderie de Coubertin.
By virtue of the exceptional projects carried out in its workshops under the supervision of highly qualified professionals, the Fondation offers a unique venue for professional training and the transmission of know-how.
Its flexible and general curriculum allows craftsmen to fill the gaps they may have in their basic education, to acquire the skills they need to practice their craft and meet the demands of the modern world, and finally to enjoy broad and diverse cultural opportunities.
Because of the unique setting of the Fondation the fellows have the best opportunities for professional and cultural enrichment. They are provided with room and board and all their activities are on the grounds. The proximity to Paris by public transportation makes it possible to incorporate individual or organized excursions into the program.
The Fondation spreads over an estate covering 160 acres in Saint Rémy Les Chevreuse, 20 miles southwest of Paris. Virtually hidden in the estate’s secluded woods behind the sculpture-studded gardens and 300-year-old chateau are massive workshops. They employ 120 people and circa 30 fellows.