Fort Boyard – a landmark known from the TV show

Fort Boyard (Fort Boyard).

Fort Boyard

There are no guided tours of the fort. The fort can be seen during a tourist boat trip.

Fort Boyard is a French fortress built by order of Napoleon in the XIX century. It became world famous in the early 1990s thanks to the TV show of the same name. This structure today is one of the historical monuments of architecture of France.

Although on the territory of this landmark and are shooting a popular TV show, but tourists are not allowed to enter there. All you can do is see the ancient fortress during a tourist excursion off the coast of the nearby islands.

Fort Boyard inside on Google maps panoramas

Where is Fort Boyard

The fortress is located in the Antioch Strait of the Bay of Biscay, off the west coast of France. The closest islands to the fort are the Ile de l’Est and the Oléron. The fortress itself is in the department of the Charente Seaside. This is one of the departments of the region of New Aquitaine.

Coordinates for GPS navigator: 45°59′59″N, 1°12′50″W

History of Fort Boyard.

The idea of a defensive fortress between the two islands was first proposed in the 17th century, after shipyards for warships were built in the town of Rochefort. In order to protect these shipyards, it was necessary to block the very long strait between the islands of Ile-de-Ex and Oleron. A fort with firepower, together with the coastal batteries already built, would have been able to fulfill this function. Initially Louis XIV proposed this idea to engineer S. De Vauban, but he declined.

Fort Boyard

The idea was revived in 1801. Construction of the fortress was begun on the orders of Napoleon I. The construction of the fort began on the existing sandbank, which was just in the center of the strait. Soon the fortress was named after this sandbar.

During the construction it was decided to fortify the sand island with stone blocks, but they began to sag the seabed under their weight. Because of that the construction work was suspended for almost 30 years.

The next phase of construction of the fort was begun in 1837 at the initiative of Louis-Philippe I. The construction of the fort took 20 years. By the time construction was completed, the fort was no longer needed. It was subsequently used as a prison.

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The length of the base of Fort Boyard – 68 meters, width – 31 meters, the height of the walls – 20 meters.

Fort Boyard

During World War II, the fort suffered significant damage. After the war, in 1950, the fort was included in the list of historic monuments of France. Since then, the structure had stood in disrepair for almost 20 years. Wind, seawater, and looters gradually destroyed the fort.

In the early ’60s, it was auctioned off and purchased by Ert. Ert. Soon, due to lack of funds to maintain the structure, Ert. Hert sold the fort to J. Antoine. It was from this moment began a new stage of “life” of the fortress as a platform for filming the TV game with the same name. From 1989 to 2004 was a reconstruction of the fort.

Excursions to Fort Boyard

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, access to Fort Boyard is closed. There are no tours of the structure itself. It can be seen only during the sea tourist walks at a distance of 500 meters. Tickets are sold at the ticket office at the piers. During the tourist season, wishing to see the famous fort becomes quite a lot.

Fort Boyard

Structure of the fortress

The fortress consists of 3 tiers, with corridors, balconies, and rooms. Above the last level is an observation tower. The fort had about 70 small rooms with minimal furnishings. These rooms once housed the garrison and stored weapons. After the restoration of the fortress in these rooms installed equipment and machinery used in the filming of the game “Fort Boyard.

The fortress in the movie

The famous fort was first chosen as a location for filming in 1967. In the movie Adventurers, the climactic battle took place on the grounds of the fort, which was filmed for about 3 weeks.

In 1980, the place was spotted by F. De De Deleuvelle, who at the time hosted the popular program “Treasure Hunt”. In one of the episodes of the show the hero was looking for an artifact copied on the territory of the fortress.

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The peak of popularity of this structure came in the early 90s, when the shooting of the TV game “Fort Boyard” was organized here. The game quickly gained popularity and soon began to be broadcasted almost all over the world. The famous TV show has been on for several decades.

Fort Boyard

How to get there

Since the fort is located in the middle of the bay and almost equidistant from the nearest islands, it can only be reached by boat or boat. Pleasure boats to the fort depart from all the port towns near the fort, which are: La Rochelle, Tranche-sur-Mer, Tremblade, Île d’Oléron and Ile-de-Ex.

Fort Boyard Island: Where the most famous quest originated

Fort Boyard Island: where the most famous quest originated.

The TV game Fort Boyard gathered thousands of people in front of TV screens, and still this program holds high ratings among the similar ones. The treasure hunt has become a really fascinating: a fortress surrounded by the sea, trapped in it participants and difficult tests. Let’s examine how this show has managed to hold its ratings for thirty years.

View of the bastion from the sea. Photo: wikipedia.org

View of the bastion from the sea. Photo: wikipedia.org

Where is the island

The fortress is located between two islands in France: the Oleron and Ile d’Aix. The Strait of Antioch runs between them. It is in this strait that stands the famous fort called Boyard, which has become the ideal place to search for treasure.

View of Boyard from the island of Oleron. Photo: wikipedia.org

The view of Boillard from Oléron Island. Photo: wikipedia.org

It would seem that there are many similar fortifications around the world, but it was Fort Boyard that interested television: first French, and then television of other countries. Here, famous actors and athletes were competing, and in 2004, France invited children to Fort Boyard, who fought for the treasure as well as adults.

Characters and host of the French version. Photo: @fortboyardfr/instagram.com

Characters and host of the French version. Photo: @fortboyardfr/instagram.com

And the building itself before its golden hour experienced not the best of times: it was the real long construction, which eventually served no purpose, came into disrepair and began to crumble. Until they decided to hold the Fort Boyard show here.

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History of the Fort

The strait where the fort is today has always been vulnerable. In the middle of it there was a small shoal, hidden by water. Even Louis XIV proposed to build a fortress on it, but even the best architects refused: it was an impossible task for the 17th century. And the need for fortification was still there: on the French islands there were shipyards for repair and construction of ships. At the same time, the strait was very wide, and in case of an enemy attack, Antioch would be very difficult to defend. At the time, the French had strained relations with the British, from whom an attack was expected.

Project 1801. Photo: fan-fortboyard.fr

Design 1801. Photo: fan-fortboyard.fr

The idea of protecting the strait was returned to in the Napoleonic era: the emperor’s foreign policy again put the country in danger. However, at the beginning of the XIX century construction was at a much better level, so the fortress in the sea still had to appear.

Alas, it happened not at once, but only half a century later. The thing is that there were some difficulties during the construction: the stone that was used to build the fort was so heavy that it went into the ground under its own weight. As a result, after eight years all work was halted, and it was not until 1837 that they returned to it.

Reinforcement from high ground in 1980. Photo: sudouest.fr

Fortification from the height in 1980. Photo: sudouest.fr

After another twenty years, this long construction in the middle of Antioch was finally completed, but in the middle of the nineteenth century it was not relevant: artillery in half a century has advanced and the range of weapons has become much better. This meant that the strait could also be defended from the islands.

As a result, Fort Boyer, built for military purposes and with a direct protective function, was never used for its intended purpose. A prison was opened in it in the late 19th century, and then it stood derelict for several decades.

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Boillard's abandoned courtyard in 1987. Photo: sudouest.fr

The abandoned courtyard of Bojar in 1987. Photo: sudouest.fr

During World War II, German soldiers trained within the walls of the citadel, and training firing ranges caused serious damage to the 19th-century structure. The castle fell into considerable disrepair at the end of the war, destroyed by the sea, time and a lack of attention from the authorities. That was until the fort caught the attention of a local producer in the 1980s.

How the fort inspired a TV show

In the early 1980s, adventure TV shows were just appearing, and one of the first on French television was Treasure Hunt. In fact, one of the shows was the inspiration for Fort Boyard. In one of the episodes of the “Hunt” co-host had to swim to Boyard on a boat, but he almost drowned. The contestant of the show still managed to get to his goal: he spent several hours waiting for rescuers at the half-destroyed walls. This story was the basis for a new show by the producer Jacques Antoine, who became interested in the fortress.

A still from the film “Adventurers” with Alain Delon, 1967: the dilapidated Boillard was the location for the shooting. Photo: kinrium.com

A few years later he bought Boyard in the hope that it would make a great location for filming. Antoine dreamed of running a live-action show that would somewhat resemble the Dungeons & Dragons board game that was popular at the time. The board game is set in a mysterious tower inhabited by unusual creatures, and the goal of the main players is to find treasure. Antoine definitely succeeded in bringing his idea to life, as the Fort Boyard show has become a pioneer among other adventure scare shows, as well as the best-selling French show on world television.

The countries that filmed their versions of the show “Fort Boyard”. Photo: wikipedia.org

First, the original French series were translated into different languages, and then crews from different countries got into the walls of the fort, which filmed and still filming their adventures here. More than thirty countries have filmed scare shows in Boyar, with the next highest number of episodes:

As for Russia, the first episode of the TV show came out in 1998, and since then 75 episodes have been filmed. Recently, there was an announcement of the filming of the new season, which began this summer.

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The structure of the citadel

The citadel itself is shaped like a stadium, with walls rising about 20 meters above the sea. The oval-shaped building is about 70 meters long and just over 30 meters wide. Like many fortresses, Bojar’s structure is very standard: there is a courtyard in the middle, and warehouses and barracks for soldiers on the first floor. The second and third tiers were designed for the installation of various kinds of weapons that were to protect the strait from the enemy.

The courtyard in 2007. Photo: wikipedia.org

The courtyard in 2007. Photo: wikipedia.org

But television, of course, has made its adjustments: now most of the rooms are equipped not with combat weapons, but with mechanisms necessary for TV shows. The observation tower, where the sentinel once sat, has become the “home” of the eccentric elder Fura, who is the keeper of the keys to the fort and riddles the participants of the show with difficult riddles.

Excursions, or How to get into the fort

Unfortunately, it is impossible to get into the fort (unless, of course, you are a TV star or a media personality). The fort is actually one of the iconic TV studios where TV companies from more than 30 countries shoot programs, so ordinary visitors are not allowed inside.

Boyard from the boat. @papillonetdemoiselles/instagram.com

Boyer from the boat launch. @papillonetdemoiselles/instagram.com

However, the legendary citadel can still be seen: you can reach Boyard by boat from La Rochelle, as well as from the islands of Oléron and Ile d’Aix. The cost of the trip on average is about 30 euros, but it all depends on how far is the pier from the fort. The excursion boat approaches the fort at about half a kilometer, and then sails around the structure to the famous music from “Fort Boyard”.

Check out the spectacular shots of Fort Kronstadt, built in the 19th century and now abandoned.

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