History of the Fort
In the 17th century, when the arsenal of Rochefort had to be protected as well as possible from enemy attacks, the artillery range did not yet allow to cross fire between the fortifications located on the island of Oleron and the island of Aix. The ambitious construction of a fort on a sandbank in the open sea, halfway between the two islands, is then decided. However, the pharaonic project would not see the light of day until the 19th century: Napoleon Bonaparte decided to launch the works in 1803. Between storms and English attacks, the construction site was interrupted several times and finally abandoned for several decades from 1809.
The construction work of the fort will resume under Louis-Philippe, in 1848. It will then take 10 years to finish the base and then build the fort. In 1857, the watchtower overlooking the building was erected. But in the second half of the 19th century, the fort's primary vocation was no longer relevant: the artillery had made great progress and fire could now be crossed between the two islands. The imposing fort will be used very little, serving a few years as a military prison before being left completely abandoned.
In the 1960s, a private individual could even buy Fort Boyard for a modest sum at auction. At the end of the 80s, the building finally became the property of the General Council of Charente-Maritime with exclusive exploitation by the production company of Jacques Antoine, creator of the successful televised game still filmed today in the fort and presented by Olivier Mine.
Cruises to Fort Boyard
Several companies offer cruises around Fort Boyard: the opportunity to approach the famous monument whose decor makes you dream on television, to admire its proportions and to imagine the technical prowess required for its construction. Cruises to the Fort can be made from the old port of La Rochelle, the port of Rochefort, Fouras, La Tremblade, Port-des-Barques, as well as the islands of Ré and Oléron. To embark from the Ile d'Oléron, go to Saint-Denis or Boyardville, with the following companies:
- Inter-Îles and its 8 boats from the two ports La Marcelle for a tour of the fort on an old rigging from Boyardville.
- Island or Wing for an aperitif in front of the fort on a catamaran
- Oléron Croisières departing from Saint-Denis during the day or at sunset
- Boyard Voile for a cruise to Fort Boyard on a catamaran from Boyardville
- Discovery Voile on a 12-person sailboat in Boyardville harbor with aperitif at the end of the day.
Can we visit the fort?
Although it is not on the island, Fort Boyard is one of the must-see visits of Oleron Island. While many options allow you to discover the Fort during a sea cruise, the interior of the building is not accessible to the public. It is reserved for the film crew of the shows, the emblematic characters of the game, such as Father Fouras, and for guests and candidates who lend themselves to the game of enigmas and tests of all kinds. Unless you win a contest or be invited as a journalist or blogger, you will only see the decor of the old prison behind your small screen. The boat cruise is therefore the best way to see as much of it as possible on the fort during your stay at the camping on the Ile d'Oléron : you will notably see its entrance and access platform which do not appear on the screen. You will be able to admire the impressive dimensions of the building, and also to see perfectly the watchtower that stands in front of the building facing the sea.