Fort Pate

An essential part of the Vauban Bolt, Fort Pâté proudly stands on an eponymous island in the middle of the estuary. Its origins date back to the Fronde, when Claude de Saint-Simon, Governor of Blaye, suggested blocking naval traffic on the Gironde in a line even with the city. Vauban officially proposed his project in 1685 after just one visit. This was accepted, and François Ferry executed Vauban’s plans. "The Island of Blaye", just forming at the time, was first mentioned circa 1650 by Clerville. However, every strong tide covered it, which forced Ferry to surround it with a dyke in 1690. The oval-shaped fort provided a 360° vantage point. Defence of the estuary was ensured by two artillery batteries, one on the island's highest point and the second deployed around the fort and protected by a narrow glacis. The building is unusual in that it has a foundation consisting of a vast pinewood "grid" set on piles.

This ingenious system provided balance and support for the huge weight and prevented the building from sinking into the unstable ground.  Work on the small fort's foundation began in 1691. Masonry work started in 1693 and was completed that same year. Circa 1705, the building subsided two metres, but this did not cause any serious damage. However, it did make the 32 gun slits meant to protect the immediate vicinity of the fort inoperative. Seeing as the island had lost nearly half of its surface area, it was reconsolidated between 1726 and 1730. Fort Pâté is presently a private property. 


It is no longer possible to drop anchor at the Île Pâté, or to visit the fort there. However, you can see it up close in a launch, barge, or pleasure craft.