Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Maurice Herzog and Paul-Émile Victor, the three visionaries of the adventure

Between them reigned the brotherhood of the great explorers. They did not have the same favorite terrain but had given themselves a common mission: to discover the most extreme environments on the planet. In 1956, Match met Paul-Émile Victor, hero of the poles, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the guardian of the seabed, and the champion of the Himalayas Maurice Herzog. Pioneers of ecology, voice of the beauty and fragility of the world.

1956. In all the recreations of France runs the same riddle: “What are the three poles of the Earth? “And the schoolboys laughed:” The North Pole, the South Pole and Paul-Émile Victor! “While he was predestined to take over the father’s business of pipes and pens,” PEV “, as his relatives call him, preferred to challenge the impossible: crossing Greenland from west to east on foot and by sleigh, slice of life in close collaboration with the Eskimos who adopted it, mapping of lands hitherto unknown … But, that summer, the explorer of the extreme skipped school, far from the bites of the cold. In the forest of Rambouillet, he himself felled the trees which enabled him to build, for 150,000 (old) francs, his palace, that is to say a modest chalet with berths, fireplace, skins of animals and friends first: Maurice Herzog and Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Click, click, Match immortalizes the rest of the heroes.

Return from land Adélie, Antarctica, April 7, 1953. © Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

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Once the poles have been reached, the time has not yet come for the conquest of space but for the summits of the roof of the world and the abyss. Maurice Herzog is then famous for having defeated Annapurna with Louis Lachenal. 8,091 meters of glory and hell – snowstorms, temperature 25 degrees below zero, frozen limbs that had to be amputated… Jacques-Yves Cousteau, for his part, has just won the Palme d’Or at the Festival de Cannes for its documentary “Le monde du silence”, an hour and twenty-six minutes of diving into the deep blue. Regarding his friendship with Paul-Émile Victor, the captain wrote: “We were convinced that nothing was impossible. He told me about sleds, igloos, Eskimos, ice. I told him our first dives, the dolphins, the groupers, the water. While I was planting an artificial island in the middle of the Mediterranean, he created the Dumont-d’Urville base in Adélie land. Pollution and destruction, due to ignorance and neglect, threatened life, both in Greenland and Antarctica and in the Mediterranean. We had to defend the emperor penguins like the elephant seals. ”

1956. The three explorers at Rambouillet.

1956. The three explorers at Rambouillet. © Maurice Jarnoux / Paris Match

Together, they create a group for the defense of the environment, overcome the indifference of most political authorities, without ever ceasing to sound the alarm. Then Paul-Émile Victor finally confided to Cousteau: “Here, I am absorbed, devoured by a thousand little concerns that prevent me from thinking, reading and especially writing. I decided to leave Paris and settle down, in order to work better, in the Pacific. PEV built another Robinson’s hut, Bora Bora color, on a tiny piece of land called motu Tane (Man’s islet). At first furious, his friends visit him in his paradise where farés on stilts have been built for them. They had thus created the most beautiful kingdom, that of discoverers and insatiable lovers of the planet.

The feat of June 3, 1950: the first 8,000 meters climbed by man. At the end of Maurice Herzog's ice ax, the French flag.

The feat of June 3, 1950: the first 8,000 meters climbed by man. At the end of Maurice Herzog’s ice ax, the French flag. © Paris Match

1951: for the first time, using special equipment, Cousteau photographs the colors of the depths.

1951: for the first time, using special equipment, Cousteau photographs the colors of the depths. © Paris Match

Match's tribute to the adventurer, who died on March 7, 1995, at the age of 87.

Match’s tribute to the adventurer, who died on March 7, 1995, at the age of 87. © Paris Match


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Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Maurice Herzog and Paul-Émile Victor, the three visionaries of the adventure