The bank also offers “Fantastic holiday camps”…


BNCI's holiday camps at Saint-Pierre les Nemours (France) in 1954 : children gathered before the walk - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Holiday camps, which were first created in 19th century Switzerland, quickly developed in France. A complement to the traditional education system, they form part of the social measures carried out by banks. Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI), an ancestor of BNP Paribas, was particularly dedicated to the idea, with numerous holiday centres.


Open-air education

Holiday camps were initially set up for sanitary and educational purposes. Alarmed by the fragile health of underprivileged children in Zurich, Swiss pastor Hermann Walter Bion decided to take 68 children to stay with farmers in the canton of Appenzell in 1876. Accompanied by eight school teachers, the young people benefited from fresh country air, lessons and religious instruction. In France, the first school camps were launched in 1883 at the instigation of Edmond Cottinet, administrator of the educational fund for Paris’ 9th arrondissement. Youth club-type catholic camps were also offered in order to compensate for the secular education provided by schools. In the 1930s, the organisation of holiday camps was regulated. The teachers were trained and the State intervened in the way in which the camps were run: on 17 June 1938, a law was passed regarding the protection of children outside their parents’ home.


BNCI’s holiday camps

Holiday centres developed rapidly after the First World War, reaching their peak between 1930 and 1960. Banking establishments offered holidays to the children of their agents through their works councils, responsible for managing their logistics and budget. The Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et de l’Industrie (BNCI) boasted a particularly varied selection: in Soulac-sur-Mer, Saint-Pierre Quiberon, Les Rosaires, Dol de Bretagne, Pont-l’Abbé, Aurillac, Vercel, Murat and Saint-Saturnin, seaside, countryside and mountain camps were organised for children between the ages of 5 and 15. In 1950, a “Children’s Home”, a health centre for fragile children authorised by the social security system, opened in Divonne-les-Bains near Lake Geneva.

The little campers got their fill of nature and leisure activities. And already, the bank was increasing the variety of the entertainment on offer: beach huts, fêtes, bathing areas, encounters with farm animals, etc. Supported by new educational methods, the holiday camp also incorporated educational psychology. This education complemented that which was taught in schools.


Children laying down on the grass in order to draw the BNCI’s logo, holiday camps in Franconville (France), 1951 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives

A constant evolution

In 1955, over a million children went on a holiday camp in France. In 1958, 1738 children benefited from the BNCI’s holiday camps. The tradition continued as the decades went by but the programmes of activities expanded: winter sports, horse riding, kayaking, motocross and science activities were added to the traditional bike rides, hikes and swimming. Cinema, dance and circus lessons were also offered to suit modern interests.


FRAHBNPP_PER4_112_007- la Souterrainne atelier vannerie 1956

Basketery session during a BNCI’s holiday camps in La Souterraine (France), 1956 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives


FRAHBNPP_PER4_101_012 - St Pierre Quiberon 1955 ferme

Carnival parade at Saint-Pierre de Quiberon (France) during a BNCI’s Holiday camps, 1955 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives

From 1970, BNP‘s works council added language study holidays in the United Kingdom and Germany to its catalogue. By decree, the term “holiday camp” was replaced by “holiday centre” in 1973. The residences became considerably more comfortable and the destinations more varied.
Today BNP Paribas’ Central Works Council offers a choice of destinations, near and far. In 2015, 3814 children participated in an organised holiday in France and 2272 went abroad. The safety measures and staff training have considerably increased, and these stays provide wonderful memories and nurture the participants’ spirit of discovery. From 2013-14, 1.3 million children benefited from them in France.


SEE THE PHOTO GALLERY – Memories of summer camp at château de Landifer (France) …

Several administrative departments withdrew to château de Landifer during the Second World War, but many Paribas employees also sent their children there for summer camp! Paribas had made this pretty Loire valley estate a colonie de vacances from the 1940s until 1983.


Departure from Montparnasse (France) railway station for summer camp at Landifer in the 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Children on a train departing for Le Mans (France) in the 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Administrative building, Landifer estate, 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Walks in Landifer in the 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Games in the open-air pool in the 1950 - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Walks in Landifer in the 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Outdoor games and adventures in the 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Children playing in an orchestra at a fête in the 1950s – BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Show during a fête in the 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

At the canteen in the 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

The holidays end at Landifer, 1950s - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

School at Landifer during World War II – BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Pupils at school in Landifer during World War II - BNP Paribas Historical Archives


Contact us / Send us a document

    This website has a cultural and historical purpose; it is not intended to deal with trade and banking relationship issues which will not be processed. See moreless

    If you have a document, a photo, a story about BNP Paribas history and want to share it, please do not hesitate to share it there.

    In transmitting this document, you certify to own it and to hold the property rights needed for their use. You authorize BNP Paribas to use it on the website Source of History.

    Thank you for indicate the origin of the documents and give us any information you consider relevant to its understanding.

    The personal data collected on this form is processed by BNP Paribas SA for processing. It allows us to provide a personalised answer to your requests (access to archives, research, information requests. Please note that fields identified by an asterisk (*) are mandatory.

    For more information on the processing of your personal data, you can access our Data Protection Notice.


    Suscribe to Well of History's newsletter

    The personal data collected from the Site are subject to data processing by BNP Paribas to enable access to and use of the functionalities offered by the Site
    Pursuant to the French Data Protection Law No. 78-17 of 6 January 1978, you are entitled to access the data collected by BNP Paribas and to have it amended, updated or deleted, where such information is incorrect, incomplete or outdated. You can exercise this right by contacting: BNP Paribas – APAC TDC Val de Marne, TSA 30233- 94729 FONTENAY SOUS BOIS Cedex.


    Files download

    I undertake to make private use of the contents downloaded from the website


    You have added an item to your selection.

    You can find your saved contents in the “My space” section, which can be accessed at the top right of any page of the website.

    My space English A+ A-

    To find this content on your next visit, you need to create an account from this section, by clicking on:

    Fermer Welcome to

    Well of History

    Since 1822, history has made us a key player and a witness of transformations taking place in society and economy in Europe and around the world. We invite you to share in our story and explore our archives to learn more about our constantly changing world.
    Jean Lemierre Jean Lemierre,
    of BNP Paribas