Fort Boyard!!!

Ok so have you ever saw a show on TV on a wonderful idylic place and wondered if you can go see it? Well, my family liked to watch this show on TV which was pretty popular in France. And alors, one day my oldest son got  a semester hotel/restaurant studies in La Rochelle, and from there we decided once visiting him to take a look at this place. What is it? well is Fort Boyard. 

la rochelle

Let me set up the scene on this fort in the middle of the Atlantic ocean!

Fort Boyard is a fortification located on a high bottom originally formed by a sandbank, called the longe de Boyard which is discovered at low tide and is located between the island of Aix , the island of Oléron, with the island Madame and the island of , belonging to the Charente archipelago. The Longe de Boyard is attached to the cadastre of the town of Île-d’Aix, in the department 17 of Charente-Maritime, in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.  Fort Boyard is an integral part of the Rochefort Maritime Arsenal which stretches along the Charente estuary. It is the property of the departmental council of Charente-Maritime since 1989.

la rochelle

At first, the designation on 17C Dutch maps of this sandbank under the name Banjaert Hollandis suggested a Dutch origin of this name. The oblong shape of the fort is located 2,900 meters from the island of Aix and 2,400 meters from the island of Oléron. It measures 68 meters long in the axis by 31 meters wide, for a surface area of 2,065 m2 and a total of 2,689 m2. The inner courtyard is 43 meters long in the axis, 12 meters wide and its surface is 565 m2. The surrounding walls culminate 20 meters from the foundations. The fort was built to protect the Rochefort arsenal. At the end of the construction of the arsenal in 1666, the need for protection was mentioned with Boyard’s lanyard as a basis for construction, but after the various surveys, Vauban presenting the project to king Louis XIV, ironically said “ Sire, it would be easier to grasp the Moon with your teeth than to attempt such work in this place”. This first project will therefore remain there.

In 1801, taking advantage of a short truce in the war which had pitted France against England for 9 years already, Bonaparte, 1st consul, approved a new project which aimed to build a fort measuring 80 by 40 meters. worked began in 1803, Napoleon, on site in August 1808, revised the project downward – the project was reduced to a dimension of 40 meters by 20 – and work resumed in 1809. The Battle of the Isle of Aix, called The Burns of the Isle of Aix: in early April 1809, a squadron of 11 French line vessels and 4 frigates was assembled in the harbor before the mouth of the Charente, under the orders of Vice-Admiral Zacharie Allemand, with a view to setting sail to bring reinforcements to the Antilles, despite the blockade maintained by the English. The French squadron lost 4 vessels and a frigate. Thus are ruined the hopes of reinforcements for the threatened colonies in the Antilles. And finally, in June 1809, the construction of Fort Boyard, to close the harbor, was permanently suspended.

la rochelle

We had to wait for the reign of Louis-Philippe and the renewed tension between the French and the British for the project to resume. In 1841, it was redefined downwards and new credits were released and in 1857 the construction of the fort is completed with the second floor and the first cannons are put in place in 1859. This marks the end of the construction of the fort as a whole; the minutes announcing the end of all the work was signed on February 6, 1866. Its military use is never what it should have been, and finally, in 1913, the army separated and the guns were sold to scrap dealers. In 1869, work was carried out on the north jetty of the barachois and, in 1873, the tide gauge was transferred from Fort Enet to Fort Boyard. On August 11 of the same year, the first observations of sea level were made. It will operate until 1919. During WWII, it served as a training target for the Nazis. Finally the fort was put on sale before definitively selling off in November 1988, The game production company of Jacques Antoine, who acquired it, then immediately sold it to the General Council of Charente-Maritime for a symbolic franc. In exchange, the department undertakes to carry out the rehabilitation works and ensure the exclusive operation of the site at JAC (Jacques Antoine et Cie, third French producer of television games at the time). From then on, the monument became the filming location for a television program bearing his name: Fort Boyard

la rochelle

Maritime access to the fort from Fouras is by chartered speedboat during the filming season for the game show; the Baron Gourgaud in 1988 and 1989 of the Inter-Islands cruises, then by speedboat, the Bacman between 1989 and 2003 then the Sea Surfer from 2004. In 1990, the building, freshly bought and rehabilitated, became the filming location from the program Les Clés de Fort Boyard, renamed Fort Boyard the following year. The show was set as a team of candidates, surrounded by more or less strange characters, must overcome a certain number of physical and intellectual tests (calling on agility, speed, endurance, strength, memory or logic) as well as overcome their fears, in order to be able to collect the keys giving access to the treasure room of the fortress and guess the code word of the day with clue cartridges to seize the gold coins called boyars, in a limited time , which fall into a round cage, and pour them into a cauldron which will then be weighed.

The Tourisme Charente Maritime dept 17 on Fort BoyardAtlantic Cognac tourist office on Fort Boyard

The Ïle d’Oléron tourist office on Fort Boyard in English: Oleron island tourist office on Fort Boyard

The Rochefort tourist office on Fort Boyard in English: Rochefort tourist office on Fort Boyard

And there you go a nice adventure trip by boat to a popular French spot on the ocean surrounded by beautiful island views; hope you enjoy the photos and maybe come to see the Fort Boyard. It is no longer on, but a new redesigned program call Boyard Land!! version amusement park ,not on the Fort, with many of the same participants and co hosts, but not the same unfortunately.  Hope you enjoy it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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2 Comments to “Fort Boyard!!!”

  1. I didn’t know the fort’s history. Thank you. Also thank you for putting the theme tune in my head!

    Liked by 1 person

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