However, the Cotentin coast remained vulnerable because of its prominent position facing England. The need to protect it turned out to be crucial after the battle of the Hougue, in June 1692, when Louis XIV‘s ships were defeated by the Anglo-Dutch fleet. Therefore, in 1694, Vauban called for the urgent construction of two towers which would protect the anchorage of ships by means of cross fire.
Work started under the orders of the engineer de Combes. These tapered towers, 20 metres high, are distinguished by their many different functions: for observation, firing out to sea and communication by signals and are a fine example of Vauban’s military engineering. They were planned to be self-sufficient, with cisterns and magazines, to enable between 40 and 80 men to withstand a siege.
Up until the Second World War, these towers were integrated into different fortified ensembles on this coast. Today, the Isle of Tatihou is an environmental showcase, managed by the Manche General Council and houses a maritime museum. The Hougue tower has been open to the public since 2008; the signal station remains a national Marine property.