Innovative partnerships for maintenance: Friends of fort Médoc
Building with earth to adapt to unstable terrain
A vital part of the defensive triptych designed by Vauban to enclose the Gironde (together with the Blaye citadel and fort Pâté), fort Médoc, comprising a grassed earth enclosure backing onto the estuary, is built upon marshy land bordering the estuary.
Of questionable utility throughout the centuries, this fort was abandoned by the army in 1916. Bought by the commune of Cussac in 1930, it now serves as a touristic site, strengthened by the estuary’s ‘Verrou’ label status as one of Aquitaine’s major sites in 2011 - 2013.
Surface area of fort Médoc: 25.3 ha, of which 11 ha of forest
Number of inhabitants: 2.053 (INSEE census, 2011)
Number of visitors in 2013: 27,039
Volunteers working at the Médoc fort
Created in 1966, the Friends of fort Médoc association (law of 1901) has been commissioned by the local authorities to “undertake and study possible projects on the site of fort Médoc”, made official by the signing of a convention. Local councillors are therefore made aware of the need to protect and develop this heritage site.
The fort was in a severely dilapidated state and the work of the Friends was initially dedicated to a large-scale clean-up operation, before work on the building itself started during the 1980’s. Until 2001, the association was entirely responsible for the site and staff working there; this role is now fulfilled by the commune. A new tacitly renewable memorandum of understanding was signed by both entities for three years.
The association, run by over 90 volunteers, including a few children, currently carries out conservation efforts and smaller works and also participates in the cultural development of the site.
The Friends of fort Médoc have become an essential part of the site’s regeneration, working intelligently with the local authorities:
- The partnership between the authorities and the association is essential in order to establish each party’s field of intervention;
- For each intervention, specifications are drawn up with the commune detailing the nature of works to be completed;
- The creation of a working committee within the town council held in the presence of the members of the association acts as a forum for their activities to be officially discussed.