The Atlantic Coast of Poitou-Charentes has been strategically important since the Middle Ages and today, forts, citadels and ramparts still dot the mainland shore, as well as the islands of Ré and’Oléron. 

So if you want to discover the rich maritime heritage of Poitou-Charentes, drop in at some of the fortifications that open to the public. They’re also a great for firing up young imaginations and bringing those classroom history lessons vividly to life.

Many of the key structures date back to the 17th century, when Louis XIV instructed his military engineer Vauban to enlarge existing defences and build new ones such as Fort Vauban at Fouras to protect his dockyard at Rochefort

Saint-Martin-de-Ré is one of 12 key Vauban sites awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO for its star-shaped ramparts, military harbour and imposing citadel. 

Also impressive is the citadel in Le Château d’Oléron which guards the strait between Oleron and the mainland. Visit the museums inside the castle walls and walk the ramparts for views of Fort Boyard.  Or take a cruise boat for a different perspective of this 19th century fortress that rises from the waves like a stone ship - the atmospheric location for the international television game show. 

[+] How to get to the French atlantic coast

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