Fort Boyard and Vauban
“Sire, it would be easier to seize the moon with the teeth than to attempt such a task in this place”, Vauban said to Louis 14th about the construction of Fort Boyard.
Despite this being said, the construction of the fort is decided because of the need to lock the passage between Aix Island and Oléron Island. It is even more necessary, when in the 19th century, an English fleet penetrates the pertuis of Antioch, threatening the Naval Dockyard of Rochefort, and then manages to sack the precious Aix Island !
The chosen place to build the fort is on the sandbank "Longe de Boyard" then named "Ban Iaert", but for the shooting range to be ideal, it had to be moved more than a kilometer away ! As you can expect, this solution is very expensive and, above all, the difficulties are too great, so the project of building the Fort Boyard is finally abandoned.
The project was taken up again in 1801 by Napoleon and the construction of the building began in 1804. Once again, the construction was suddenly halted for nearly 30 years because of the Battle of Aix Roads, where the English navy destroyed the French fleet at the Estuary of the Charente river !
The destiny of the “useless fort” offshore Aix Island
The construction of Fort Boyard resumed in 1842. Few modifications were made to the original plan but when the fort was finally completed in 1857, the progress of the artillery made it completely useless!
After several years of abandonment, it was necessary to find a use to this fort which cost nearly 8 million francs (about 36 million €), an astronomical sum at the time! It finally became a military prison in 1870, then the Navy definitively abandoned it in 1913.
The TV game : The Fort Boyard
In the 90s, the filming of the game/show Fort Boyard is launched !
We all know the faithful characters of Fort Boyard: The Professor, Passe-Partout, La Boule...
Success is at the rendez-vous and the Fort Boyard, strong of its foreign versions, has become the most famous fort in the world !
So, not so useless after all !