Visit of the Citadel of Blaye

Blaye
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The Gironde is full of treasures to discover over the course of a weekend or a day. Today I will take you to discover an architectural gem dating from the 17th century, based in the north of the Gironde ... An impressive fortress, emblematic of the region and known throughout France and beyond borders: the Citadel of Blaye .


The Citadel of Blaye, a treasure of history

The Citadel of Blaye

Stroll through the village before the guided tour

When you get there, you can only marvel at the robustness of this impressive military ensemble : you feel very small and vulnerable! Built between 1685 and 1689 by the engineer and military architect Vauban , La Citadelle de Blaye had to meet a military as well as a commercial objective : mastering navigation on the Gironde estuary , which it overlooks 35 meters. Indeed, Louis XIV wanted to protect the city of Bordeaux and avoid enemy invasions. The estuary being very wide, the citadel is part of a military complex called " the Lock of the estuary " , supplemented by Fort Pâté (which can be seen from afar) and Fort Médoc (which can be seen visit by boat), a nice trio to control on all sides, the entry of boats ... Finally, few risked it, except for a few English boats in 1814! Is the monument alone a deterrent ? It's up to you to go and visit it!

The Citadel consists of a small village where it is very pleasant to walk . Walk the small alleys up to Place d'Armes , in season and on sunny days there are pretty artisan shops . Continue in the fort and don't forget the impressive underground . The Citadel is marked by time, yet it was not damaged by the attacks (which never really took place), it is therefore a place weathered and embellished by nature , which has regained its rights over the original military vocation.


The whole is a real modern and innovative architectural feat , listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. From 1925, the Citadel of Blaye is listed in the inventory of Historic Monuments , but its integrity is at stake, because the erosion threatens the Pointe de Grave and the solution to dam the estuary requires the exploitation of a quarry, which would have forced the destruction of part of the Citadel. Illustrious figures, political figures and journalists protest, make the affair public and obtain UNESCO registration to permanently protect Vauban's work. Phew!

Gironde estuary

A magnificent view of the Gironde Estuary from the Citadel of Blaye

Why choose the guided tour to visit the Citadel of Blaye?

The visit to the Citadel is free . However, to discover the underground and to better understand the history of this place mythiqu e, I advise you to opt for the guided tour, which reserves to the tourist office. You can make tours every day, all seasons! The very pleasant 1.5 hour walk starts at 2.30pm and will make you look at the buildings from a different angle thanks to unsuspected anecdotes !


The Citadel of Blaye

The group of the day, attentive to the fascinating explanations of our guide

Eva our guide, tells us with passion, the techniques that were put in place to trap the intrepid who would dare to attempt an attack: secret or studded doors , slopes with studied angle of view, demolitions of stairs during attacks… It is a time travel not to be missed. Do not hesitate to reserve your place especially during the long holidays and count € 7 for adults and € 5 for children from 5 to 12 years old.


The Citadel of Blaye

A unique access to visit the underground

The exceptional view from the La Citadelle hotel - Photo credit la Citadelle

Blaye, on the way to Santiago de Compostela

 

Blaye is a famous stopover on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela , the Way of Tours . The estuary has always been a natural stopover that pilgrims had to cross to reach the nearby city of Bordeaux. It is here that we still borrow the bac . At the place where the Citadel is erected, was the Saint-Roman Basilica and the tomb of Roland le Preux , place of pilgrims' collection. Note that inside the Citadel is the Convent of the Minims , which once housed religious of this order.


Blaye Citadel Vine
The Vines are never far away in Gironde!

There are a thousand and one reasons to go to the Citadel of Blaye . For the more seasoned, know that it is also possible to fly over the place by microlight or by plane and thus see the majestic Citadel from another angle!

Good visit


The Citadel of Blaye

In the alleys of the Citadel


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Article prepared by Mélanie Oliva for the Bordeaux Gironde Guide


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