Perched off the Atlantic coast of France between the islands of Aix and Oléron, construction began on the austere Fort Bayard under orders from Napoleon in 1801 but stalled eight years later. The fort was finally completed in 1857 and was utilized to guard both the mouth of the River Charente and the arsenal at Rochefort from English attack.
Supported by an artificial island made of tons of rubble, it stands 66 feet (20 meters) high and 223 feet (68 meters) long, with immensely thick stone walls built in an oval shape that once housed a garrison of 250 soldiers, with stores, living quarters and an exercise yard on the ground floor and gun emplacements above. After 187, the range covered by canons fired from dry land increased significantly and the fort became redundant; it was turned into a military prison but soon after fell into disrepair. Finally listed as a building of maritime historical interest in 1950, it has since been maintained by the local council in the Charente-Maritime.
Fort Bayard has been the venue for French TV game Fort Bayard since 1990; the game involves contestants in taking on physical challenges to win money prizes and the rights have been sold across the world.
Fouras, Rochefort. Not open to the public but accessible by organized boat tour between April and September.