Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fort Louvois

Last stop on our impromptu Atlantic coast trip: Fort Louvois. An hour by car from La Rochelle, two from Bordeaux, the fort is not far from the town of Marennes, the gateway to Île d’Oléron (another popular holiday resort island). The island is linked to the mainland by France’s longest bridge, almost 2 miles long. More than half the oysters eaten in France come from the Marennes-Oléron basin, and although they are grown to maturity in parcs à huîtres, it is only in the region’s claires that the adult mollusk is fattened.

We arrived an hour before lunchtime during high tide. The little harbor had some colorful boats, and the views of the fort, bridge and island were nice, however it was the lunch at the restaurant/hotel Le Terminus that we really enjoyed. I had the fresh catch of the day with fries, Roberts the salmon, and Lauris fries and ice cream. Yum!

We finished lunch and walked back to the edge of land to look out at the fort, and by this point the walkway had started to emerge from the water like a magic bridge that materializes only when you need it. We had read that the fort is accessible only on foot during low tide and so weren’t completely surprised, but as the tide receded even farther and the oyster baskets in the surrounding basin emerged, it seemed to be a completely different place! The boats in the harbor were now completely beached (as we had seen in St-Martin-de-Ré), the boat ramp ended with a 10 foot drop to the water and locals were out in the shallows fishing and searching for non-cultivated oysters.

Fort Louvois is the last maritime fortification commissioned by Louis XIV, designed to defend the southern harbor and arsenal of Rochefort and the channel between the island of Oléron (and the 17th century fortress Château-d’Oléron located there) and the mainland. Fort Boyard to the north completes the fortifications of the Charente estuary.

Classified a historical monument in 1929, it was severely bombed during World War II. In 1960 it was fully restored and since 1972 houses an oyster museum and a permanent exhibition on the history of the fort, including models made of all the coastal fortifications. WWII buffs will enjoy the extensive exhibit located in the troop barracks, and before crossing the walkway back to the mainland be sure to stop by the gift shop; it has some wonderful photographic prints from the area for very reasonable prices.

Oui In France


  1. That fort is the most amazing thing I've heard of. I'm so glad you were able to get pictures to show us the transformation. Amazing. I love the picture of your little man on the cannon. It looks like a great day.

  2. It looks like a wonderful place to visit. We hope to venture to that region next year(?). Thank you for the little armchair travel and sharing your lovely photos with Post Of The Month Club :) XoLaura

  3. Those boats look really pretty. I'd love to get to know this coast better.

  4. Beautiful pictures and an interesting slice of history -- thanks for sharing this!

  5. I'm always amazed how far out the tide goes, even along the Atlantic. Oysters are one of my favourite foods so that coast is a favourite spot with me. I'm not sure I've been to the fort though.

  6. What a fascinating place - I love oysters and hae heard that Ile Oleron is beautiful, so I'd love to visit.

  7. This is an area I don't know well enough at all, I'd love to visit some more. Thanks for sharing with #AllAboutFrance


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