La Rade

History and description

The isle of Aix had its first modern defences installed in 1672. A battery involving multiple installations was constructed by the navy at the Sainte-Catherine’s point to the South of the isle. Nothing survives of this initial work, constructed during the war of Holland. Twelve years later, the engineer Francis Ferry proposed the construction of a more significant fort, equipped with a tower including an inner fortified structure. This project was amended by Vauban. Following the modifications imposed, it became a tower with inner fortified structure, protected from the rest of the isle by a front with a tenaille, comprising two arrow-headed bastions and an inner fortified structure including a gorge and preceded by a ravelin and moat. The artillery battery on the side facing the sea is still preserved. The military work was combined with a town-planning programme: the residents of the isle were grouped in a small radiating concentric town, sealed off by an urban wall with a moat outside. This construction remained incomplete in 1693. On this date, the fortifications of the Rade were in place but not for the small town, the further construction of which was abandoned. It would only be taken up again in 1756 by the engineer Ricard, head of the fortifications of Aunis and Saintonge, on the orders of Louis XV. The Seven Years’ war meant it was unfinished. In 1757, the Isle of Aix was taken by the English and the tower and inner fortified structure was demolished. Twenty-two years later, Montalembert put up a wooden construction, which resisted the siege of the English. In terms of the remainder of this work, only a ravelin and the entry drum of the gate remain. The rest was demolished under the Restoration.
It would not be until the end of the 19th century until the Rade of Aix had a proper defence. Napoléon I ordered that the defences of the isle be reinforced, a project which was clarified by the July Monarchy and completed by the Third Republic.

Current state

Nothing more remains of the fortifications of the Former Regime. All the visible portions today, namely the fort, ramparts and linked batteries, date from the 19th century, except for a ravelin from the fort de Montalembert. However, these works were based along the former traces and followed the broad outlines of the projects set out by Vauban and Ferry. The interest in this site comes from the fact that it showcases the posterity of Vauban by the efforts to follow in his footsteps.

La Rade

La Rade
46° 44.4226" N, -1° 10' 23.3789" E

battery and tower with inner fortified structure
Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban, François Ferry, Ricard
  • LE BLANC (F Y), FAUCHERRE (N.), La route des fortifications en Atlantique. Paris, 2007.
  • D’AUNAY (A.), Vauban, génie maritime, Paris, 2007.
  • DEQUESNES (R.), FAILLE (R.), FAUCHERRE (N.), PROST (P.), Les fortifications du littoral, la Charente maritime, Chauray, 1993.
Text in english
Text in english