Fort Boyard - a great day out when staying in our
Family Friendly Gites in SW France
Fort Boyard is a fort located between the ile d'Aix and the ile d'Oleron in the Pertuis d'Antioche straits, on the west
coast of France. It is 61 metres long, 31 metres wide, and its walls are 20 metres high. The construction of the fort
was first considered during a build-up of the French armed forces undertaken by Louis XIV between 1661 and 1667,
but Vauban, his leading military engineer, famously advised against it, saying "Sire, it would be easier to catch the moon
with the teeth than take on such an endeavour in such a location". Construction of the fort did not begin in earnest until
1801, under Napoleon, in order to protect the coast (and especially the arsenal of Rochefort) from possible incursions
by foreign (and especially British) navies. At that time, cannons only had a limited range, and the distance between the
two islands of Aix and Oleron was too large to block the passage. Following difficulties in establishing a firm base
(stone blocks had to be installed on the sandy sea bed during low tide, where they could still sink under their own
weight) the project was suspended in 1809. Construction resumed in 1837, under Louis-Philippe, following renewed
tensions with the United Kingdom. The fortifications were completed in 1857, with sufficient room for a garrison of
250 men. However, by the time of its completion, the range of cannons had markedly increased,
making the fort unnecessary for national defence.

Under the Paris Commune of 1871, Fort Boyard was briefly used as a prison, before being abandoned a few years
later. Over time, the fort slowly crumbled and deteriorated into the sea as it was left unmaintained.
In 1988, restoration work commenced on Fort Boyard, in order to prepare it for a television game show, also named
Fort Boyard. The fort was electrified and a contraption similar to an oil rig has been installed on the side in order to
facilitate access to television crews. Restoration on the fort finished in 1989 and filming commenced in 1990. Fort
Boyard has been used as the set for the show to this present day. On the boat trip you don't actually get to visit inside,
or indeed stop at all, but a its a fun boat trip over the sea, particularly for children who know the game show.It lasts a
few hours and theres only really coffee served on the boat so be sure to take snacks and drinks and a coat even in the
summer as it gets blustery out on the open sea. You may prefer to take the longer day trip via the Ile de Aix where you
can get off and walk around.