Fort Médoc

Fort Médoc. Photo : ©hubert sion. Source : http://www.tourisme-gironde.fr/

Built at the request of Louis XIV in 1689, Fort Médoc has the classic appearance of a Vauban-style fortification, with its grassed ramparts, moats and large open spaces...

The decision to build Fort Médoc was made by Louis XIV in 1689. The construction work that had started in 1690 was far enough advanced in 1691 to allow a first garrison to move in, even before the fort was finished. Fort Médoc has the classic appearance of a Vauban-style fortification, with its grassed ramparts, moats and large open spaces leading up to the fort. Basically rectangular in shape, it is flanked on its four corners by bastions linked by curtain walls. The moats communicate with the Gironde by a system of locks that allow the water level to be maintained regardless of the tide.

After crossing the royal demi-lune in front of the buildings and the moats, visitors reach the heart of the fort by the Porte Royale, whose pediment is decorated with a sun, the emblem of Louis XIV. The vaulted corridor beneath the central building was sealed by a wooden lattice-work gate and by a portcullis, which has since disappeared. Lateral casemates with arrow loops provide security for the passage. The central building, the royal guard house, originally accommodated the garrison's commanding officer on the first floor and consisted of weapons storage rooms on the ground floor and fine vaulted rooms in the basement.
The enormous interior esplanade was bordered by two barracks on a single level, capable of accommodating up to three hundred men. These buildings never held more than around a hundred people and the only things that remain today are the floors, a few sections of wall and a fireplace. The guard house overlooking the bastions, the fresh water tank, the chapel and the powder store are, however, still there to be admired. From 1700 onwards, the defensive purpose of this fort, which was deemed to be barely operational, was questioned by military engineers and later by the bursar, Tourny: the earth supporting the bastions and curtain walls proved to be too weak to prop up the fort's defences, the marshland around the site led to several epidemics amongst the company, who had to be relieved too frequently and, most importantly, it was easier for ships to take the Blaye channel than the shallower Médoc channel.
Playing only a negligible role in the defence of the Gironde estuary, Fort Médoc was never to be tested under fire. A garrison was stationed there until 1916 and in 1930 it became the property of the Cussac-Fort-Médoc local authority. Today the town council manages the site in conjunction with the association of the friends of Fort Médoc. The fort is currently the subject of an ambitious renovation programme and has for many years hosted various cultural events in the summer season.
Tours The fort is open for tours every day in the summer season. More information from the mairie of Cussac-Fort-Médoc Access 40 km from Bordeaux via Blanquefort and Margaux, on the D 2. Mairie of Cussac-Fort-Médoc 34 Avenue du Haut-Médoc 33640 Cussac-Fort-Médoc tel. + 33 (0) 5 57 88 85 00 fax. + 33 (0) 5 57 88 85 15

  • The fort's Porte Royale. Source: Guillaume Roumeguère

  • Guard house of the Porte Royale. Source: Guillaume Roumeguère

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    Practical information

    Address

    Avenue du fort Médoc 33640
    Cussac-Fort-Médoc

    Weekly opening hours

    Ouvert à la visite tous les jours en saison