SYA France at 50

Thank you to everyone who came to France to celebrate this amazing milestone with us and thank you to our wonderful SYA community for your continued support.

SYA France's 50th anniversary weekend celebration took place from March 24-March 27 in Rennes and continued in Paris on March 28.

Over 375 alumni, parents, current and former faculty, current students, host families, and local dignitaries gathered at Salons de L'hôtel de Ville de Rennes to formally kick-off the celebration. During the Mayoral Reception, SYA presented the City of Rennes with a plaque in recognition of the city's commitment and dedication to the betterment of the lives of SYA France students and faculty, as well as their families. Over the multi-day celebration, guests had opportunities to join students on an architectural walk through the city and a gastronomic-tour of le Marché des Lices; go back to school with master classes taught by current and former faculty; visit SYA’s first home in Rennes at l’Institut Franco-Américain; and enjoy optional excursions to Mont St. Michel and D-Day Beaches. The pinnacle event in Rennes was the Soirée de Gala held at l’Opéra de Rennes. This event featured performances and presentations by students and alumni and where members of the Class of SYA France 1968 were recognized for their pioneering spirit that led the way for more than 3,000 alumni who have followed in their footsteps in Rennes.

While in Paris guests visited alumnus-owend Maison de Verre and Musée national Picasso before ending the celebration at a cocktail reception at the Ambassador’s Residence.

Friday, March 24th

Saturday, March 25th

Tuesday, March 28th - Paris Celebrations

Highlights Of Events

Friday, March 24, 2017

Architectural Walking Tour of Old Rennes
3:00 p.m. | A faculty- and student-led architectural walking tour of Old Rennes to help reacquaint you with some old favorites and discover some new!
Family friendly

Mayoral Reception at Salons de l'Hôtel de Ville de Rennes, Place de la Mairie
6:30 p.m. | Join fellow alumni, faculty, parents, host families and local dignitaries as we celebrate the shared history of 50 years in Rennes, congratulate members of SYA France’s first class — the Class of SYA France 1968 — and honor the longstanding relationship with our French families.
For ages 16+

Leadership Recognition Dinner
8:30 p.m. | By special invitation
The Board of Trustees honors past and present leadership donors at a private dinner.

Saturday, March 25, 2017
Back to School: Classes with Faculty
8:00 a.m. | From French literature to history to language, go back to school for a lesson in today’s classroom as faculty expound on some of their favorite topics specially designed for you. Schedule to be provided. Class descriptions to follow.
Family friendly as space allows

Gastronomic-Guided Tour of le Marché des Lices
11:00 a.m. | Calling all food lovers, gourmets and culinary enthusiasts: the second largest open-air farmers market in France will get your taste buds tingling. From cheese to vegetables to oysters, we’ll explore a wide variety of foods from the best that Bretagne has to offer. Be sure to pick up a galette saucisse or kouign amann.
Family friendly

Open House at l’Institut Franco-Américain
TBD | The original home of SYA France, students attended classes here from 1967 until 1981 when SYA moved to its permanent home, Villa Alvarez. The longstanding partnership with the Institute continues today. For over 50 years, the Institute nurtured relationships between French citizens, Americans and lovers of American culture, to improve mutual cultural understanding.
Family friendly

Gallery Talk with J.P. Lemée at the Galerie DMA
4:00 p.m. | Attend a special, limited capacity gallery talk on the “Stoc An Vrac’h” exhibition, which brings together a summary of the past, present and future from Jean-Philippe Lemée. Following the talk, the group will walk to l’ Opéra for the Soirée de Gala.

Soirée de Gala at L'Opéra de Rennes
6:30 p.m. | The celebration culminates with the SYA France 50th Anniversary Reception at the grand Opera House. The festivities began with cocktail dînatoire and socializing before taking a seat in the performance hall for a formal program highlighting five decades of SYA France.
For ages 16+

Sunday, March 26, 2017 - Exploring Bretagne
In addition to the formal program, SYA is developing three optional per-person, fee-based excursions. To help us with planning, when you register please select the activity that interests you most from the list below. We will notify you when registration is opened for these activities.

Mont St. Michel
Travel to Mont St Michel by bus and be transported back to the Middle Ages to one of France’s most iconic images. From the slender spires, stout ramparts and rocky slopes of Mont St. Michel rising dramatically from the sea, enjoy an SYA guided tour and exploration of this fortified abbey steeped in art and history.

Omaha Beach and Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Travel by bus for an SYA guided tour of these historic landmarks of U.S. and France and history. Little evidence of D-Day remains as today Omaha Beach is a peaceful place with a beautiful stretch of golden sand.

A Day in Rennes
From Parc du Thabor to Musée des beaux-arts to Place Sainte-Anne, join a student-led tour through the centuries exploring the many charms of Rennes.

Monday, March 27, 2017
Café, Croissants and Conversation
8:30 a.m. | Over café et croissants, you will hear from students who will have just returned from a Global Issues Network Conference in Luxembourg and an opportunity to join the conversation about SYA's most recent undertakings and plans with President Tom Hassan and members of the Board of Trustees.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - Exploring Paris
Consider joining fellow SYAers in Paris after the weekend celebration. During the day you will be able to select from optional fee-based excursions. Enjoy the “City of Light” at night as we end the SYA France 50 celebration at the Ambassador’s Residence. We will notify you when registration is opened for these activities.

Daytime Excursions
Maison de Verre

9:00 a.m. | Join us for one of two one-and-a-half hour docent-led tour of the architecturally and historically significant glass home built in the 1920s and painstakingly restored by its owner, American architectural historian Robert Rubin FR’70. Each tour is limited capacity and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Musée National Picasso-Paris
10:30a.m. | Stay tuned for details on a docent-led tour at one of the museums. Art historian John Finlay FR’68 will be our guest commentator.

An Evening in Paris
6:30 p.m. | Save the date for a cocktail reception celebrating 50 years of SYA France at one of Paris’ historic buildings. An invitation will be emailed to include more information after January 20. Please note that space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Thank You Letter from Trustees and Co-Chairs

Dear friends,

Thank you for joining the 50th Anniversary Celebration of SYA France! Whichever your year or role, your journey to Rennes shows SYA left an indelible mark on your – or your child’s – life! We hope you enjoyed connecting with over 350 fellow alumni, parents, faculty, French families and others. It was the presence of many SYA supporters like you that made the event most special.

After a richly eventful weekend — from classes to performances to speakers to excursions — we left feeling proud of SYA’s history and excited about SYA’s future. The warm hospitality and support offered by the city of Rennes, host families and partner organizations are still the same; yet, SYA is evolving. Students still learn about éxplication de texte, but anciens élèves were astonished to discover current students’ greater choice of classes, familiarity with Rennes’ landmarks, and school-supported travels throughout the European Union.

In order to memorialize and share the excitement generated by this milestone celebration, SYA will soon send a digital commemorative to the entire SYA community. If your return to Rennes inspired strong impressions or fun photos, please consider sharing them by April 14 at the links below. Your comments will help us carry this weekend's energy forward, as we work together to make SYA even stronger.

THANK YOU for helping to make SYA France's 50th memorable. We hope to see you at another SYA gathering soon.

À la prochaine,

Alexandra Alger FR’79 CN’12P
Kristin Lund Vosmik FR’81 FR’16P ES’17P
Trustees and Co-Chairs of the SYA France 50th Anniversary Committee

Be Part of the Digital Commemorative

It will be fun for those who couldn’t join us to see and read the celebration through your eyes and words. Please participate by sharing your thoughts and sending your photos.

  • Share your thoughts and impressions by email
  • Send select photos with captions by email or upload to our album on