Fort Saint André. Source : http://www.salins-les-bains.com
While there are few traces of Marshal Vauban’s interventions at Fort Belin and the Bracon redoubt, Fort Saint André has preserved his indelible mark.
Comtois, rends-toi ! Nenni ma foi ! (Comtois surrender! Never, by my faith!) This motto is the pride of the people of Franche-Comté. People here never surrender to the enemy. For a long time, the enemy was the King of France.
Franche-Comté enjoyed a certain degree of freedom as part of the Holy Roman Empire to the east of the Kingdom of France. This was enough to whet the appetite of Louis XI, Henri IV, Louis XIII and, lastly, Louis XIV.
With the help of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the Sun King was able to bring it into his realm. Franche-Comté became French. The enemy did not disappear, he just changed nationalities. So Vauban got down to work, making the province an impregnable land.
In 1675, Louis XIV entrusted his brilliant military engineer, promoted to the rank of Marshal of France and Commissioner General of Fortifications, with the task of fortifying the principal strategic points in Franche-Comté. After Belfort, Besançon, Joux and Salins-les-Bains, he worked on three structures defending Salins, a Jura town nestled away in a steephead valley (geographical term designating a steep, narrow valley in a limestone plateau in the Jura) and economic heart of Franche-Comté due to the presence of salt mines, the precious “white gold”. While there are few if any remains of his interventions at Fort Belin and the Bracon redoubt, Fort Saint André has preserved his indelible mark.
All the constructions that Vauban had built starting in 1678 at the site of a small fortress from the first half of the 17th century are there:
the forward structure whose mission is to defend the entrance to the fort;
the monumental gate bearing the Sun King’s motto: “Nec pluribus impar” (not unequal to many);
the crenellated bastions with the wall-walk at the top;
two 65-metre long barracks where forty fully equipped holiday accommodations are now housed;
the powder magazine topped with an elegant ribbed vault and a lava tile roof, which is now a friendly pub;
the governor’s house, which is awaiting renovation;
the vast chapel topped with a roof lantern, which has long been abandoned;
the central courtyard with pleasant squares of lawn;
the holiday and conference environment that now fills the site.
From 1682 to the middle of the 19th century, this fortress served as a State prison. The men and women involved in the famous “Affair of the Poisons” that brought down Madame de Montespan were followed by prisoners locked up by the different regimes by “lettres de cachet” at the request of their families or for political, military or common law reasons, whether former nobles, defrocked priests, suspicious citizens, sans-culottes, Swiss or Spaniards.
Office de Tourisme
Tél. +33 (0)3 84 73 01 34
Village Vauban 39110 Salins-les-Bains
Tél. +330(3) 84 73 16 61