Abstract : Virgo is a power recycled Michelson interferometer, with 3 km long Fabry–Perot cavities in the arms. The locking of the interferometer has been obtained with an original lock acquisition technique. The main idea is to lock the instrument away from its working point. Lock is obtained by misaligning the power recycling mirror and detuning the Michelson from the dark fringe. In this way, a good fraction of light escapes through the antisymmetric port and the power build-up inside the recycling cavity is extremely low. The benefit is that all the degrees of freedom are controlled when they are almost decoupled, and the linewidth of the recycling cavity is large. The interferometer is then adiabatically brought on to the dark fringe. This technique is referred to as variable finesse, since the recycling cavity is considered as a variable finesse Fabry–Perot. This technique has been widely tested and allows us to reach the dark fringe in few minutes, in an essentially deterministic way.