• Fort Boyard

  • Fort Boyard
  • Fort Boyard

Planned since the construction of the Rochefort arsenal in the 17th century, Fort Boyard will only rise above the waves with great difficulty, after a construction site full of ups and downs - which will take a good part of the 19th century. This fort is situated in the open sea between the islands of Aix and Oléron, on a sandy shoal. The Dutch cartographers, who were the first to indicate this place, named it "Banjaert" ("sandbank" in Dutch). This word evolved into its current name: "Boyard". The construction of a defensive system at this location was envisaged as early as the 17th century to protect the mouth of the Charente - and above all the great arsenal of Rochefort - from the assaults of the English navy. Although there were forts on the islands of Aix and Oléron, the range of their cannons was not sufficient for their fire to cross and block this passage for enemy ships. Vauban, military architect under Louis XIV, was commissioned by the king. Soundings were taken on the boyar's lanyard. His answer was categorical as to the feasibility of this project: "Sire, it would be easier to seize the moon with your teeth than to attempt such a task in this place". The project for a fort was temporarily shelved. It was Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1801, who unearthed the project. It was estimated at the time at 830,000 francs. The same year, preparations for the construction site were launched. On the island of Oléron, a town adapted to the needs of the construction site was built. It was named "Boyardville" and would accommodate the workers during the construction of the future Fort Boyard. The construction of the fort finally cost the French state 8,600,000 francs and, ironically, once completed, Fort Boyard was completely useless! Its construction having been so long, technical progress in terms of armament now allows the cannons to crossfire. It was used as a prison. In 1913, the army decommissioned it and abandoned it. In 1961, the Ministry of the Army wanted to get rid of it and put it up for sale. It was bought by a Belgian dentist, Eric Aerts. In 1966, cameras were installed for the first time in Fort Boyard, which was then used as a set for the final scene of the film "Les Aventuriers" directed by Robert Enrico. In 1988, Jacques Antoine's production company bought the Fort Boyard from Eric Aerts and convinced the Conseil Général de Charente-Maritime to buy it back for a symbolic 1 franc. The Conseil Général accepted and became its new owner. In exchange, it will take care of the restoration, accessibility and maintenance of the Fort. As for the production company, it will only be a tenant and will only be responsible for the costs of the programme. As Fort Boyard is not accessible to the public, take advantage of a wide range of cruises departing from the island of Oléron (Port of Saint-Denis d'Oléron or Boyardville) to get as close as possible to this majestic stone vessel.



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