Fort Boyard

Île-d'Aix, France

Fort Boyard is located between the Île-d'Aix and the Île d'Oléron in the Pertuis d'Antioche straits, on the west coast of France and is the filming location for the eponymous TV game show since 1990.

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. Fort Boyard was to form a line of fortification with Fort Enet and Fort de la Rade on Île-d'Aix to protect the arsenal of Rochefort from Royal Navy incursions. With the limited range of artillery in the 17th century, there was an unprotected gap between the fields of fire of the fortifications on the islands of Aix and Oléron; a fort on Boyard bank, roughly midway between the two, would have filled that gap. In 1692 the French engineer Descombs began planning the programme of building the fort; however, once it became clear how expensive it would be the scheme was abandoned.

After a British raid on Île-d'Aix in 1757, plans for a fort on Boyard bank were once again considered. Though plans were drawn up, it was abandoned again due to the logistical problems. Efforts were renewed under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800, and the following year engineers Ferregeau and Armand Samuel de Marescot, and Vice-Admiral François Étienne de Rosily-Mesros designed a fort to be built on the bank.

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 this time the range of cannons had significantly increased, covering the hitherto unprotected gap and making the fort unnecessary.

After 1871, Fort Boyard was briefly used as a military prison, and abandoned in 1913, after which the unmaintained fort slowly deteriorated and crumbled into the sea. In 1950 it was made a listed building, and in 1961 was sold to Charente Maritime Regional Council.

In 1989, the reconstruction of fort began in preparation for hosting the game show. An access platform for the berth of ships was built 25 meters from it (the old fort pier was destroyed long ago). The fort was completely cleared of a huge layer of guano (50 cm thick). In 1996, artillery platforms were also restored. However, the fort was still exposed to harmful influences from the sea. Therefore, in 1998, additional restoration work was carried out. The outer walls were completely cleaned and the sealing of the terrace completed. The final stage was the restoration of a central courtyard which was completed in early 2004.



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Île-d'Aix, France
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Founded: 1800
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Guide (9 months ago)
Amazing place. You can reach it by booking a boat trip around it with a very reasonable cost.
Oksana Sukhenko (11 months ago)
Unique place. I've dreamt to see it since my early years. Unfortunately, we did only one circle around it, but it's really magically beautiful.
Chris G (4 years ago)
Just amazing to see this fort in the sea - also interesting to know the stories behind it. Really want to go inside and explore more..
DESTINY GNANTE (5 years ago)
Had a great tour from the boat. For those from England, this is where Crystal Maze is filmed from!
Fred US (5 years ago)
A stone building in the middle of the see, an interesting history for the building which was a fort, a prison and now the set for TV show around the world Fort Boyard!! Do not hesitate to take a tour from La Rochelle to cruise around Aix, Oleron islands and see the Re island bridge. Leaving La Rochelle is also something interesting and beautiful to see. Relax and enjoy!!!
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