Friday, April 25, 2014

V - Vauban

Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban, known as “Vauban,” and born in 1633 was, quote from “a Marshal of France and the foremost military engineer of his age, famed for his skill in both designing fortifications and breaking through them. He also advised Louis XIV on how to consolidate France's borders, to make them more defensible.”
Why is this interesting? On a visit once, to Bordeaux, having the day to myself, I did a “touristy” thing and looked at a few different tours of the vineyards of the Médoc, the Bordeaux wine country peninsula that protects Bordeaux and the mouth of the Gironde River. When I first met my husband, I started to fall for him among the fort ruins called Citadelle de Blaye, set on the banks of the Gironde River (It features in my novel Evangeline’s Miracle, yes, tacky plug I know but oh well!), located in the southern part of the Medoc. Obviously I have a soft spot for the place where my husband wooed me and this “new” tour would encompass three forts built or restored by Vauban (and three vineyards), one (the most famous) of which was Blaye, where we would have lunch. Blaye determined which tour I settled on.
The tour visited three or four vineyards, each with tastings and “Lectures,” but I was more interested in the three forts built by Vauban, Blaye, Fort Paté, and Cussac-Fort-Médoc. We couldn’t actually visit Fort Paté because it is privately owned, but we took the ferry across the Gironde from Fort Médoc to Blaye and in passing the Isle Paté, we were able to see it from afar. The day was full of adventure, history and good wine and food, and better than I anticipated. I would certainly do it again. If you care to do a tour of the wine regions near Bordeaux, the tourist office in Bordeaux is a great place to begin because they show you all the different tours available. (If I could remember the name of the tour/tour company I took I would link it here, but I don’t remember! All I know is that it was a new tour in 2009.)

Fort Paté entrance

Fort Paté inside from the river looking landward

Where the garrison marched and kept watch on the river

The entrance to the munitions building, with the great door hook still in place

The munitions building

Inside the main building

Once on the river, these small (tiny!) fishing huts on stilts lined the banks of the Gironde.

A colorful boat going by us with Fort Medoc in the back.

The island of Pate. This is all you can see as the ferry goes by...

Our van on the ferry

The walls of the Citadelle de Blaye.

The entrance bridge over the moat surrounding the citadelle.

A tunnel leading to the living areas within the walls.

I could love to live here...
The view from our restaurant. A small vineyard within the walls of the citadelle looking over the modern city of Blaye.

A former gate between the citadelle and the city.

A view of the walls of the citadelle
Giving you some information about Blaye.

These are the oldest of the ruins within the citadelle and called La basilique Saint-Romain. This is where I first began to fall for my future mate. I'm glad they haven't closed these off because they are some of the more picturesque parts of the fort. These date back to the 4th century...

The photo I took of my future husband on the ruins in 1982... You can't walk on them now!


  1. Oh those are amazing. Love that last pic of the future hubby. That's so special!

    Happy A to Z-ing!
    herding cats & burning soup.

  2. Who wouldn't fall in love here?
    Wendy at Jollett Etc.

  3. That would be a really cool tour to take.
    I remember climbing on some ruins in Wales when I lived there years ago. I'm sure it's not allowed now.

  4. Hi Lisa,

    The place that your husband wooed you. That does make it an even more precious place. Fort Paté looks a sturdy place considering it's made of paté :)

    Ah and a nice photo of the ruins and of course, your future husband.

    May you and your loved ones have a most peaceful weekend, Lisa.

    Gary :)

  5. bravo pour ces ballades si bien illustrées!


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