Want to get up close to the fort made famous throughout the world in the TV game show? Before you set sail for Fort Boyard, here’s a bit of history about the most famous fortress in France.
Constructed to guard the mouth of the Charente and protect the arsenal at Rochefort, this enormous stone vessel intended to house a garrison of 260 men and 74 canons across three floors became obsolete before being finished in 1859 due to the progress in artilleries, leaving it practically useless. After several years of abandonment, a use for this fortress needed to be found given that it had cost nearly 8 million francs to build, a huge sum at the time! It became a military prison in 1870 before being indefinitely abandoned by the French Navy in 1913. Classed as a historic monument in 1950 and purchased by a Belgian dentist, Fort Boyard appears in several French films, including “Love on a Pillow” with Brigitte Bardot and “The Last Adventure” with Alain Delon and Lino Ventura. These appearances marked the beginning of the glory years for Fort Boyard, not just in France but throughout the world. In the 1990s, the TV game show “Fort Boyard” introduced this wonder between the Île d’Aix and the Île d’Oléron to a new audience. The show was a great success, and on the back of international versions, Fort Boyard became the most famous fort in the world!
There are numerous inter-isle ferries to help you discover this legendary stone giant, most notably departing from La Rochelle’s Vieux Port. Enjoy a sea boat tour of Fort Boyard with commentary, a trip to the Île d’Aix which circles around the fort, and above all an evening cruise that will allow you to admire the sunset over Fort Boyard. They make for unforgettable moments worth immortalising in photos.