Situated half way between Aix and Oléron Island, Fort Boyard was initially built to protect the harbours of Aix Island and Rochefort.
This construction project dates back to the 17th century. Colbert completed the Rochefort Arsenal in 1666. There was a great need for military protection. The 7 Years' War had just ended. Defence of the coasts was a priority at that time. But obvious technical difficulties made it impossible for construction to start.
Construction began at the start of the 19th century. The Engineers and Marine officers handed Napoleon-Bonaparte a report advocating the construction of a " stone ship " built on a sand and rocks reef.
The works began in 1804 with immense difficulties. Rocks bogged down, heavy storms and the British attacks put the works on hold. There was another attempt in 1809 but the process was interrupted again.
Thirty years later, in the reign of Louis Philippe, with tensions between the French and British reaching a peak, construction works started again. In 1848 the pedestal was erected. Construction of the Fort itself lasted for 10 years.
At the end of the Second French Empire, it was a military prison. Abandoned at the start of the 20th century, it fell prey to looters.
In 1950 it became a listed building (Inventaire Supplémentaire). It was bought by a private individual. And finally it became the Charente Maritime Regional Council's property. It has been restored to its original splendour and is nowadays the setting of a famous TV show.