Like a stone vessel anchored between the Ile d’Aix and the Ile d’Oléron, in the middle of the Pertuis d’Antioche straits, Boyard Fort was designed to guard the mouth of the Charente and the port of Rochefort, as the range of the cannons on the islands was not long enough to cover this zone. Its imposing dimensions – 68m long, 31m wide and 20m high – make it a veritable symbol of the maritime heritage of Charentes, confirmed by its media success.
An incontestable technical prowess… but useless
The idea of its construction came about as early as the end of the 17th century, but was postponed for technical reasons. It was Napoléon Bonaparte who finally launched work from 1801, interrupted in 1809. Work recommenced in 1841 with new techniques to create the artificial island supporting the fort, completed in 1859. Only, at this time the range of the cannons on the defences around had increased, and so Boyard Fort was rendered obsolete.
The fort eventually served as a prison at the end of the 19th century, before being abandoned by the army around 1910. After being delivered to a period of pillage, the Département bought it in 1979, then restored it, before the cinema and the famous television game (similar to the Crystal Maze) gave Boyard Fort, a listed Historical Monument, the recognition and the splendour that it deserves. The fort is not open to the public, but a number of sea excursions are organised offering an admirable view from the sea.
Boat trips start at the beginning of April and finish at the end of September. They continue at weekends in October and start up again during the All Saints November holiday period, as well as during the February school holidays and weekends in March (subject to favourable weather conditions).