The fortifications of île d'Aix

Ramparts of the island of Aix. Source: GNU Free Documentation License

Off the mouth of the Charante, in the Strait of Antioche, discover the richness of the natural and historical heritage of the île d'Aix...

Off the mouth of the Charante in the Strait of Antioche, every year the southernmost of the islands of Ponant welcomes more than 300 000 visitors, thanks to the richness of its natural and historical heritage. The island of Aix with its 132 hectares is full of deserted beaches, wild creeks, rocks ... and fortifications. Indeed, the military security of the Rochefort naval shipyard became essential following the completion of its construction in 1666 at the instigation of Colbert. Subsequently considered an excellent defensive position because of its strategic position, the île d'Aix offers visitors an insight into developments in military architecture over the ages, with a clear predominance of elements dating from the 19th century.

Although the appearance of Aix is strongly marked by the imposing presence of its fortifications, in addition to its superb natural setting, the island is also home to several other sites worthy of a trip: there are no less than twenty buildings and listed sites to visit. A dynamic policy is now in place to highlight this rich natural and historical heritage. So, a walk has been marked out to guide visitors to those spots considered to be of interest, the island being dotted with numerous boards providing historical information next to heritage sites. What's more, a programme of cultural events is scheduled each year offering visitors activities based on the history of the île d'Aix, even out of season. Lastly, every day in July and August and by appointment from April to June and in September, the tourist office organises four themed guided walks (the Pointe Sainte Catherine and the Fort de la Rade, the streets of the village, Napoleon the First, Fort Liédot etc.) and a "heritage rally" introducing the island's most important monuments, accompanied by an illustrated booklet.
Throughout the year the following can be visited: - The church and priory of Saint-Martin, founded in 1067 by the abbey of Cluny; - The Napoleonic museum, inside the Maison de l'Empereur which was built in 1809 (open every day except Tuesday); - An African museum, established in 1933 inside the former house of the Military Engineers and displaying the zoological and ethnological collections assembled by Baron Gourgaud (open every day except Wednesday). In the summer season, horse-drawn carriage tours are available from the place d'Austerlitz, to peacefully enjoy this island, where there is almost no road traffic.
Access by sea In the summer season Several shipping companies provide crossings from La Rochelle, Rochefort, Fouras, Boyardville (Oléron), Sablanceaux (Ré) and La Tranche (Vendée). Some of these companies also offer visitors commentated crossings. Out of season Twenty minutes by boat from la Pointe de La fumée at Fouras. The île d'Aix has a marina that is open all year round.
Mairie of l'île d'Aix Rue Gourgaud 17123 Ile d'Aix Tel. + 33 (0) 5 46 84 66 09 Fax + 33 (0) 5 46 84 65 79 E-mail: Heritage Events Department (open all year) Tel. + 33 (0) 5 46 83 01 82 & + 33 (0) 5 46 84 66 12 Fax + 33 (0) 5 46 84 65 79

  • Ile d'Aix. Source: GNU Free Documentation License

  • Ile d'Aix, author Remi Jouan. Source: GNU Free Documentation License

  • Ramparts of the island of Aix. Source: GNU Free Documentation License